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The Mount Elbrus ski area is located on Europe's highest mountain and was traditionally the preferred ski retreat of the Soviet elite. It was also a high altitude training area for Russian athletes and astronauts, but is now a popular domestic destination for the Russian nouveau riche and international skiers, climbers and snowboarders looking for new areas to explore. It is particularly suited to snowboarders and ski-mountaineers. The region is not so well accessible as the Alps and offers many off-piste skiing opportunities.
This area is one of the largest holiday destinations in southern Russia and a popular resort for families in search of spectacular mountain scenery and excellent year-round skiing in the winter. The ski lifts are mostly situated in the region around the Baksan Valley, at the head of which is Mount Elbrus. Low cost heliskiing has made this area a natural drawn for off-piste enthusiasts and snowboarders.
Vertical Drop: 2,000m/6,560' (lift served)
Top Elevation: 3,800m/12,500' (lift served)
Marked Runs: 35 km (22 miles)
Snowcat Skiing: Yes, offering 4,000m + vertical drop
On Mount Elbrus the lifts are cheap ($2 per lift) and a ski cat tow to 4700 metres in winter and 5100 metres in summer is offered as an alternative when fixed lifts are not operational. This opens up impressive off-piste options for the skier and snowboarder. They are generally less populated than in the more common Alpine resorts, with an average of 500 skiers on the slopes daily.
The fixed lifts in the region serve some 35 km (22 miles) of marked and groomed trails, with the majority being on Mount Elbrus and on Mount Cheget. The Elbrus cable car is a full 2500m in length and ascends from the "Azau" village to "Stary Krugozor" over an initial 650m. and then to the "Mir" station (another 500m rise). The final section of chair lifts rise to the top "Gara Bashi" station, a further 250 m altitude rise. The length of the ski run from Gara Bashi is 2km back down to Azau.
The Cheget cable car base station is located in the village of Cheget and rises steeply for 1500m to two separate stations. Slopes here offer steeper vertical drops and impressive off-piste skiing with widely spaced birch forests at the base. The length of the ski run back down to Cheget is 1.5 km. Many people find the queues shorter on Cheget with more terrain and shorter lines to ski.
There are many hotels in the villages of Terskol and Cheget which serve the tourist market, as well as two mountain huts on Mt Elbrus. There's also a small market of local Caucasian traders in the villages. The three star Hotel Cheget has a medical and massage service, lifts, restaurants, bars, cafes and a cinema, as well as a skating rink in the winter, sport areas, a sauna, TV lounge, a pool table a ski-store and a rental shop on site. The hotel has an underground car park and rooms have a shower, toilet, radio and fridge. There is also an internet café.
A number of the smaller chalets offer more cosy accommodation with double rooms ranging in price and quality, with restaurant downstairs. Rooms have showers, toilets, fridges and are well appointed, more in the style of an Alpine chalet. The food is generally always excellent and very reasonably priced. A breakfast can cost around 200 roubles and a full dinner around 450 roubles.
COMMENTS ON SKIING IN THE AREA
"I was amazed by the view and snow conditions. We have boarded the slopes for 2 weeks starting June 23 and the snow was perfect!…The lifts didn't stop even once, and towing to 5100m was available for extra 2$. Everything is very cheap. So is the service. But all together it was a wonderful experience".
"Elbrus is the wildest place to ski and the best place in the mountains to drink!!!"
"That's the most magnificent mountain I've ever skied. The best in the world"
Qualified English-speaking ski guide Nadia and Russian mountain guide Sasha for full tour.
All accommodation, food, cable cars & additional activities, transfers, organisation in Russia, registrations, translator, full back-up and assistance, preparation of visa vouchers
International flights to Moscow or Mineralnye Vody, and insurance
Internal flight from Moscow to Mineralnye Vody – estimate $140 - $170 rtn
Ski hire with boots - $20 per day, Snowboard hire - $15 per day
Snow cat hire – price varies
Heliskiing - $300 per person per day for a full helicopter, max 12 people
Moscow hotel - $45 per day bed and breakfast (Delta)
Russian Consulate fees for visa – varies according to nationality, $50 for UK
Airport transfer for Moscow travellers only - $50 each way
Moscow city tours – contact us for details or check our website under ‘Moscow Tours’
Personal expenses, massages, saunas, taxis in village
Arrive Moscow. Hotel Delta
Moscow Sheremetevo to Mineralnye Vody
OR fly direct into Mineralnye Vody (14 January)
Coach to Terskol - 4 hours. Hotel - double rooms shared, ensuite
Ski School for beginners and getting acclimatised on Elbrus
Sauna and massage
Overnight in mountain hotel (2670m), high altitude fun!
Visit thermal springs and bathe in hot lake (Ausherger) evening
National dancing and celebration dinner
Flight to Moscow OR international flight out
Hotel Delta in Moscow
Optional Moscow tours eg Red Square in winter, Kremlin
War memorial, Christe St Savoire
Bolshoi ballet, Moscow State Circus