I'm considering an ascent of mount elbrus in early to mid april and wanted to get a gauge of the probable conditions up there at that time of year. From the research i have done so far it seems that an April ascent is definitely plausible, despite it being towards the earlier end of the season.
Has anyone else climbed Elbrus in april previously? if so what were the conditions like. Would an ascent on foot still be plausible or would ski's/ snow shoes be a more reasonable option?
Furthermore, does anyone have any experience of managing to obtain bookings at huts this time of year? I've advised by some local guiding agencies that it may be possible to open huts on request, but that they tend to open later around May to the general public. However, the procedure to do such a thing is rather opaque.
Any advice would be appreciated
I was there out of season in October and received similar advice from agencies, but found it very difficult to arrange once in Terskol. A lot of back and forth and potential leads on Whatsapp but couldn't actually get confirmation on whether a hut would be open. There are loads of huts up there, with different guardians at each. In the end, we went up anyway and found a hut available right by the lifts, owned/managed by one of the guiding companies. I'm sure if you booked something through an agency they would arrange it, I arranged all the paperwork and the climb independently though. I can't say about conditions in April, I would guess it's ski touring season though.
Thanks for the advice @JStearn !
sounds a bit like a high-risk strategy rocking up. but as far as i can see the agency's don't take bookings for the huts out of season. How did you go about organising a visa etc? it's my understanding that you first need an invitation from a registered agency or hotel before you can apply for the visa. so far no company seems to provide this service out of season. Would be keen to hear how you approach this
also, were the ski lifts open that time of year?
I arranged the visa through Real Russia, it's all pretty straight forward but you have to go in person to a Russian Visa Centre (in Manchester, London or Edinburgh) and it costs £150 + processing fees. In theory, you are going to an area that requires longer processing times than if you were going to Moscow for example. I didn't put North Ossetia or Kabardino-Balkaria down on my application but had no problems when there, although there were a lot of questions at the border (I came from Georgia). I was a bit concerned about the paperwork but in reality it all went smoothly. If you fly direct to Mineralnye Vody from Moscow it should be straightforward. The lifts were still running, tons of tourists go up there and I would guess they run in April for skiers but can't confirm that.
If you want to climb in the Caucasus but don't want the hassle/cost of visas I would go to Kazbek instead of Elbrus, you can get to Georgia cheaply these days and it's a more interesting climb IMHO (Elbrus is a long slog). Some photos from both here: