Bagging both kings of the Caucasus in one expedition
Climbing two magnificent peaks in one go is a brilliant way of reaching the top of Europe!
A twin expedition offering everything a mountaineer could wish for.
Ascent of Europe’s highest mountain, which is one of the Seven Summits.
The short approach route guarantees a lot of time in the mountains.
Long-standing partnerships with local agencies compliment our extensive experience in Russia.
The Caucasus is the geographic boundary between Europe and Asia. This mountain range is home to 100 summits higher than 5,000m.
Even though the peaks in the Caucasus do not reach the height of the mighty Himalaya, expeditions to this mountain range do not shun any comparison. Especially not when you do two peaks like on this trip!
Day 1: Flight to Tiflis
Day 2: Arrival in Tiflis and transfer to Gergeti
Our local guide will pick us up from the airport and take us to Gergeti. On this 150km-long and very versatile drive through untouched nature, we cross the 2,380m-high Jvari pass from where we can see our first goal, the 5,033m-high Kazbek mountain. In Gergeti, we move into our hotel near the famous Trinity Church for the next two nights.
Day 3: Acclimatisation and Preparation
Today we embark on an acclimatisation trip to Juta, a small village at the end of the Achkoti Valley. It lies in the middle of the Kazbegi National Park which offers countless hikes and trekking routes. We opt for a trek across beautiful alpine meadows to reach an altitude of 3,000m. Back at the hotel, we have dinner and prepare our gear for our upcoming climb of Kazbek.
Day 4: Ascent to the Betlemi Hut (3,675m)
After a hearty breakfast, we leave our hotel and start the long climb to the Betlemi hut. After about three quarters of the way, we will most certainly stop at the newly constructed Altihut for some refreshments. The hut was built with the support of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) to promote local tourism in the region. We continue at a leisurely pace and reach the Betlemi hut at 3,675m in about seven hours. The former meteorological station is the common starting point for the summit attempt. Even though the Betlemi hut has been modernised over the past few years, it still does not always meet everyone’s expectations.
Day 5 to 7: Kazbek (5,033m)
We have three days to climb the 5,033m-high Kazbek mountain. As the key to summit success is for all members to be well acclimatised, we first ascend the 4,390m-high Ortsveri. From here, we have a magnificent view of Kazbek, our next goal.
On our summit day, we start at the crack of dawn! We quickly reach the Gergeti Glacier where we rope up to be safe for glacier travel. After we have crossed this first crevassed section, we climb across snow and ice slopes to reach the final incline which hovers between 40° and 45°. Depending on the conditions, this section is often fixed with ropes to facilitate the ascent. Once we reach the summit, our efforts will surely be compensated with a wonderful panorama.
We descend the same route which requires our full concentration one more time. In the evening of the seventh day, we will be back in the valley and before we return to our hotel, we will visit the famous Gergeti Trinity Church. The cross-cupola church with its bell tower from the 14th century is one of the most historic buildings in Georgia. We have scheduled enough time for the ascent and have even included a spare day in our itinerary.
Day 8: Drive to Terskol
Today we go on an interesting drive along the Georgian Military Road and cross over to the north side of the mountain range.
This 280km-long trip takes us through the impressive 11km-long Darial Gorge. The natural gorge in the Caucasus is very historical and used to have strategic significance. It is east of Kasbek and was carved by the river Terek. The steep granite walls of the gorge can be as high as 600m and as narrow as 8m in some places. Once through the gorge, we reach the expanse of the southern Russian steppe and drive on a good road along the northern foothills of the Caucasus to reach Baksan, a significant and historical town. We drive through the Baksan Valley and after one hour, we reach Terskol, the starting point for our Elbrus ascent. We check into a small but charming hotel.
9.–11. Tag: Elbrus
We have scheduled three days for climbing the “King of the Caucasus”. At first, we take the cable car to the Mir station at 3,469m from where we walk to a comfortable refuge at 3,900m, which is an ideal base for the upcoming climb. We spend the rest of the day relaxing and preserving our strength for the summit bid.
As we are well acclimatised, we can start immediately. The summit day is long and requires a good deal of willpower even though we are already accustomed to the altitude. We leave the refuge in the dark, usually around 2am and 3am, to reach the Pastuchov Rocks at sunrise. We continue to the saddle at 5,300m from where we start the remaining 300 metres to reach the top of Europe in hopefully glorious weather. If the skies are clear, we can see as far as the Caspian and the Black Sea. After a well-deserved summit rest, we gather our remaining energy and concentration and descend back to the refuge.
Back at the refuge, we celebrate our summit success and maybe even relax a bit. The following day can be taken quite leisurely as we only have to descend to the Mir station from where we take the cable car back to Terskol and go straight to the hotel. In the afternoon, we go for a stroll and maybe even have a delicious freshly made meat skewer from one of the shashlik stands. If needed, this day can also be used for the summit attempt.
Day 12: Terskol–Pyatigorsk/Spare Day
Elbrus should only be climbed in fine weather. However, as it is impossible to plan the weather it is important to include a spare day in the itinerary. If we reach the summit as planned, we will visit Pyatigorsk, a typical Russian town. This additional trip, which will only happen if we do not need the spare day for climbing Elbrus, will give us a good insight into what everyday life is like in Russia.
Day 13: Pyatigorsk–Zurich
After breakfast, we head to the airport and board our planes that take us back to our home countries.
The Profilecheck is a fixed part of the detailed programme. Please read it thoroughly and assess your skill and physical condition. Due to the score required for this expedition, your score will indicate whether or not your skills, fitness and mountaineering experience are sufficient to join this expedition. Your registration is a testimony of your physical and technical abilities to participate in this expedition.
Please take note of the following points concerning procedure of this expedition:
This expedition is demanding and exhausting. The high altitude alone entails several risks.
The members do not have to be ‘super alpinistis’, however, they should have a solid amount of high altitude mountaineering experience.
-You have to be able to move securely and independently through very rough terrain (snow, ice, rock, etc) and be able to independently rope up with a group. Active participation on the mountain, camaraderie and tolerance are an essential part of this expedition and we count on you to be able to provide this.
You have to be able to recognise your own limits on the mountain and be prepared to, if necessary, abandon the attempt and turn back. You join this expedition at your own responsibility.
The leader of the expedition is responsible for the management of the entire group, and personal support is not one of his/her responsibilities. Nevertheless, every member has to prepared to follow the decisions made by the leader. The decisions are always made in the group’s interest.
Depending on the circumstances and conditions on the mountain, improvisations and changes to the itinerary might be necessary.
Kobler & Partner do not take any liability for accidents, damages or loss of equipment.
Organisation of the entire expedition
Pre-expedition briefing at Bächli Bergsport in Bern, including a 10 voucher for gear purchases
Climbing and National Park fees
Fee for Kazbek climbing permit
Fee for Elbrus climbing permit
All transfers in bus and jeep according to itinerary
Visa Support (see travel documents)
Transfers according to itinerary
Full board during the entire expedition
Accommodation in a good guesthouse in Gergeti
Accommodation in a good hotel in Terskol (basic double room)
Accommodation in a good hotel in Pyatigorsk (basic double room)
Accommodation in simple huts on Kazbek and Elbrus
Fixed ropes, climbing ropes, snow stakes, ice screws
Mule support on ascent to Betlemi hut
Large medical kit with pulse oxymetre
Satellite phone, exclusive call charges
Ropes, safety equipment, etc.
Well-stocked medical kit
Local, English-speaking guide
Certified and experienced mountain guide
The first part of the climb up to the Pastuchova Rocks can be done in a Ratrac or snowcat, which is highly recommended. As the rates for this service change on a daily basis, it is not included in the expedition price. Your mountain guide will negotiate a suitable fee for the Kobler & Partner team and collect the amount cash in Swiss francs or Euros.
In Pyatigorsk and Terskol we stay in a hotel (basic double room); in Kazbegi we stay in a guesthouse. The other nights, we stay in simple lodges.
The expedition price includes international flights. Scheduled flights from Switzerland usually depart in the evenings, however, airlines’ flight times are subject to change. We are also happy to check other points of departure for you.
If your point of departure results in additional charge we will inform you in due time. For train times to Swiss airports, please check the timetable of the Swiss Railways.
Equipment List Expedition Kazbek & Elbrus
Underwear / T-Shirts
Head-, Face- and Eye-Protection
Medical kits for base camp and the high camps, radios, GPS, travel literature and maps are provided by the K&P mountain guide.
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