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Climbing Elbrus (5,642m), Russia – Last Few Days

Rest Day at Terskol

Following the summit day, we were to spend the rest of the day in Cheget. So, we got up and after a quick breakfast, headed off to Cheget market and lazed around.We went for some shopping to bug some souveniers and also buy the Elbrus T-shirts that we had promised ourselves earlier on.

There was a very good cosy shop run by Ms. Zulfiya, who spoke very good english and had a wide collection of items. The good thing about this shop was that, she accepted Euros and returned change in Roubles or Euro. This came in very helpful when we ran out of Roubles that we had converted. We got some T-shirts, souveniers and stickers from her. We also managed to buy an English book on Elbrus.

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We visited the pub that we had celebrated the night before and took a photo of it. A nice little place run by a mafia-looking but very nice boss.


Following that, we took a stroll across the other side to Terskol and got ourselves some Elbrus T-shirts.


The rest of the day was spent lazing around the town or in the hotel. Towards the evening, we started packing for our trip back to Moscow the next day. I did not have much energy to pack anything neatly, so i just split the clean clothes and the dirty ones and stuffed everything into the duffel bag and i was done in 10 minutes flat. I went to the lobby and was soon joined by our group to surf the internet. We took a group photo with all of us wearing the same T-shirt.


By that time, Dash had come to the hotel without official certificates and presented it to each of us among much applause from the others in the hotel lounge.

After the certificate ceremony, we went out for a short drink and called it a day. We went back to our hotels and slept for the long trip back to Moscow.

Trip Back to Moscow

The next day, we got up early and again, after breakfast the van was outside with Dasha. We packed our bags into the van and boarded it after having said good bye to hotel owners. Dasha was to accompany us to the airport, where she would drop us off and pick up another group of clients from Korea. She was to go to Elbrus again in another two days.

After a 3 hours drive to Mineralyne Vody, we boarded the plane back to Moscow.The view from the plane was nothing but flat plains as far as the eye could see. Not a single mountain or even a bump in view. A contrast from where we just came.


We reached Moscow by 4pm. The trip from the Airport to the Hotel was pretty bad considering that we caught the evening after office hours traffic. The traffic was slow moving and by 6pm we had reached our Hotel – Hotel Wega.



It was plush hotel with a lot of tourists and soon we were taken up to our rooms. It was a 5 star experience compared to the Hotel in Cheget or Barrel’s Hut. But somehow we missed those places.

We decided to meet downstairs in an hour and head to Kremlin. We took the metro to Kremlin. The metro is in pretty good condition and getting around should be ok. However, not many of the metro staff speak english. We used the map and looked up the similarity of words to get in and out of the train.


At Kremlin, we roamed around a bit, had dinner in one of the food markets in a shopping mall and took photos.



By 9pm, we headed back to our hotels. I and Uantchern were to fly back to Singapore the next day while the rest make their way to St. Petersburg.

Flight Back to Singapore

The next day, we woke up early to make our way to the airport. Unfortunately, we again were in the middle of the morning office commuting traffic and movement was slow. Luckily we had planned for this and had started early.

After some shopping at the airport to dispose of our Roubles, we left for Singapore. Leaving a wonderful experience and country.

Climbing Elbrus (5,642m), Russia – Mount Cheget

Acclimatization Trek to Cheget Mountain


Cheget is another mountain near the village of Cheget where we were staying. Also standing at 3,100m, it is steeper than Terskol Observatory trek. It is a good second trek for acclimatization. There was a ski-lft that can take you all the way to the top, but since we were trekking, the plan was to go up the mountain and then use the ski-lift to come down.

As usual, we woke up early at 6.30am and congregated at the lobby for some internet surfing before heading for breakfast. Breakfast was the usual. Once breakfast was done, we started our trek at around 9am.

The initial climb up to Cheget was quite steep and it got us panting in no time. However, from yesterday’s warm up climb, we did not have much of a problem climbing this one.




The view of the surrounding scenery was much better than the trek to Cheget Observatory as it was very close to the Caucasus Range and the border between Russia and Georgia. There was a large expanse of gravel space between our path and the Caucasus Range. This is a no-man’s land which separates the two countries. At one point, there was a notice put up indicating border demarcation.


The signboard triggered a flood of creative juices amongst the team members. They had a lot of fun taking funny poses with the sign board. At 3,000m we reached the first stop which is where the first ski-lift drops you off before you take the second ski-lift to the top. We rested at a very nice cafe overlooking the valleys. I had some coke while the others ate a special Russian dish called Peerushki. Its something like a pancake and its specially well made in that area.


After resting for about 30 minutes, we continued our journey to the top of the mountain. This was another hour’s walk. Along the way, we could see Elbrus in all her glory. This time, the skies were relatively clear and we could see the two peaks of Elbrus. We could even see the Barrel’s Hut at the bottom of the snowline. The previous day, we had checked up on the weather and found that today would be mostly clear in the mornings with snow or shower in the noon and evening.

Mount Cheget is about 3,700m high, but no one is allowed beyond 3,100m due to security reasons. We suspect that there is a army outpost at the top overlooking the Georgian border. At the top of Cheget, we unwinded and relaxed in the sun, gazing at Elbrus. Tomorrow, we head off to Barrel’s Hut. Although we have seen a lot of video footage of Barrel’s Hut and Elbrus, we did not know exactly what to expect or how it would be like.



There were a lot of people at Mount Cheget who had used the ski-lift to come up and enjoy the views. Again, we rested for an hour basking in the sun and enjoying the splendid views.



After an hour, we decided to go down, this time using the ski-lift. It was quite inexpensive at around 200 roubles for each ski-lift. We had to take two of them. One to the cafe where we rested at around 3,000m and then next to the Cheget town. The first one was a single seater chair while the second one was a double seater chair. The views from the ski-lift were amazing with lush green valley below while surrounded by mountains.


When you sit on the ski-lift chair, you are to fasten yourself using a chain that fits onto the other side of the chair, preventing you from falling off. I had a little problem undoing the chain when i got down at the ski-lift as i tried to unhook it a bit too late. The chain wouldn’t come off easily. The operator started shouting at me to unfasten it soon. But since i was struggling with it, he had to temporarily stop the lift so that i could get off. After that embarrasing moment, i got some serious glare from the operator as he switched the system back on. The next chair down, was no different, but this time i managed to unhock the chain earlier and got off easily.




The total trek up to the top was about 3 hours and we were down in about 30 minutes. Once at Cheget, we went for our lunch at Cafe 7 again and had a hearty meal. As usual, mine was vegetarian with beetroot, bread, soup and vegetables.

After the lunch, we went back to the hotel to leave our bags and then head to the rental shop to get our gears for the climb.

The shop, The 7 Summits Club, is located down the road from Terskol village and a nice walk from Cheget along the main road. It was well stocked with all the necessary items that is needed for the climb. In fact, you can get almost everything from the shop.


I got my ski-goggles and thermos flask from there while the others got their gears. The rental was reasonable based on the daily usage. So, for us it was to be rented out from 5th August to 8th August. Any additional day of usage will have to be paid extra while returning the items. You can either pay in roubles or euros.

After the purchase, we went back to the hotel and separated the goods that were to be worn in the town and packed them separately. These will be left in the hotel and collected when we return from Elbrus. The rest of the items to be carried to Barrel’s Hut is the essential climbing gear with the necessary clothing.

The rest of the evening went in lobby doing some internet surfing and chatting before dinner was served. Dasha held a short briefing on the activities for the next day. Since there is no WiFi at Barrel’s Hut and since the SIM card bought in Moscow did not work, we told her to stop on the way to get ourselves a new SIM card for our phones. After the brief chat, we headed off to bed. I could not sleep much due to the excitement of things to come the next day. I tossed in bed till about 2am before falling asleep.

Tomorrow, we will be heading off to Barrel’s Hut.

Climbing Elbrus (5,642m), Russia – Terskol Observatory

Acclimatization to Terskol Observatory

Terskol observatory is on top of a mountain near Terskol town. Standing at 3,100 m it is a good mountain to get started on the acclimatization process. We got up early at around 6.30am. Since we could not see anything the previous night, we ventured out to check out the surrounding area near the hotel. It was a wonderful place surrounded by forest with a graveled path that leads to Cheget market in one direction and the main Terskol town the other way. The weather was quite chilly but once the sun shone through the tall trees, it became warmer.



Unfortunately, there was WiFi only at the reception, so, we gathered together there to do some browsing as well as call our respective families. Internet was relatively fast so long as a few people were connected. Soon, once others from the hotel logged in, the connection became intermittent and slow.


Dasha, our guide, had come to the hotel to have breakfast with us. We had our breakfast at around 8am which comprised of oats, bread with butter and cheese, omelet and coffee. After breakfast, we got ready and started for our first acclimatization trek at 9am.

The Trek

The trek started off by walking through the forest to the main Terskol town and then going up the trail to the Observatory. The walk takes  you through an army barracks, so photo taking is discouraged, especially, of army officers.


There was a river crossing on the way, whose source was from the melting glaciers from Elbrus. The river was quite rapid and its current was strong. The roar of the water was quite loud.


Once through the barracks, you come to the main road which has several hotels, cafes and shops along the way. We spotted some really good “Elbrus” T-Shirts, and promised ourselves to buy once we summit and come back. After a short walk along the road, we veered off to a side track that lead to the climb to the observatory.


The climb was gradual with a well laid out path. There were a lot of trekkers along the way, some preparing to climb Elbrus while the others were there for the daily morning exercise regime. We also spotted several soldiers who use the trail for the exercise. The weather was hot and so we took several steeper shortcuts that we took us faster to the destination.




The trek was not that bad since it was not that high. It was more of a warm up for things to come. So, we enjoyed all the way as we stopped and took plenty of photos. The view was amazing as we walked along the pathway. We chatted with other people who came from different countries like Germany, Lebanon and USA. All were in high spirits and were climbing around the same day as ours. So, we knew we will be bumping into each other in Barrel’s Hut.


The town borders on the Georgian border, so, the Caucasus mountains form a geographical separation between the two countries. Apparently, to climb the other peaks you, you will need special permission from the Georgian authorities.

As we reached closer to the destination, the clear skies gave way to dark clouds. Soon there was a drizzle. We changed into our outer shell jackets. Luckily enough, the drizzle gave way to a hail storm of sorts. Something that we all experienced for the first time in our lives. The small pellets of ice hit on our exposed skin like needles. However, it was only for about 20 minutes before the hail stopped and the weather was clear again.





Soon enough, we were at the top of the climb at the observatory. It was a beautiful sight to behold. We could see the glacier from Elbrus. We could even see Elbrus from the top but it was covered in clouds. At the far distance, we could see the ski lift that was to take us from Terskol to Barrel’s Hut. The entire Caucasus range was visible with several high peaks. We spent about an hour there taking photos and resting before coming back down to the Hotel.


It took us about 4 hours to climb up and 2 hours to get back to the Terskol. The long trek was helpful in warming up our muscles. It was also important for getting into a rhythm of trekking for long hours. Overall most of us did pretty well without any altitude sickness.

On the way, we stopped at a shop to try and get us some new SIM cards, but the shop was closed. So, we reminded Dasha to come back again before going to Barrel’s Hut.  We continued our walk towards Cheget town where we were to have our lunch.

Lunch was at Cafe 7, a nice little restaurant that served some delicious food. Lunch was brosch, bread, vegetables and coffee. The others had beef as well.



After lunch we went back to our hotel, had a shower and slept for some time. Thankfully, the hotel had hot water for us to bathe in the cold weather. Later we came down again to the reception for some internet use and hung around till dinner.

Dasha wanted to come down and have dinner with us and also do a gear check so that anything that we fall short off, we could get at the rental shop. So, we spread out all the gears from the climb and had Dasha check it. I was lacking in ski-goggles and thermos. So, i made a note to rent them out when we go to the shop.

After all the inspection was done, we retired to bed for a good sleep. Tomorrow, we were to do our second acclimatization trek the next day to another nearby mountain – Cheget.

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