Did you know that the highest mountain in Europe is located in Russia?
In this post, we’ll take a closer look at some of the most interesting facts about Mount Elbrus.
1. It’s located in the Caucasus Mountains
Mount Elbrus is the tallest peak in the Caucasus Mountains, a mountain range located in southern Russia. It’s situated in the western part of this mountain range in the Russian republic of Kabardino-Balkaria.
It stands just 20 kilometers (12 miles) to the north of the Greater Caucasus, the major mountain range of the Caucasus mountains. The closest town in the area is the Russian town of Kislovodsk, 65 kilometers (40 miles) to the south-southwest.
2. Mount Elbrus is a dormant volcano
The mountain is actually a dormant volcano and is located in a moving tectonic area. There’s a huge supply of magma below the dormant volcano and about 260 square kilometers (100 square miles) of volcanic debris as well!
The last eruption took place nearly 2000 years ago in the year 50 A.D. Right now, the mountain has a permanent icecap that feeds about 22 huge glaciers who in turn feed three major rivers, the Baksan, Kuban, and Malka Rivers.
3. It’s one of the most prominent mountains in the world
One of the most interesting Mount Elbrus facts is that it’s the tenth-most prominent peak in the world. The prominence of a peak is determined by the distance of the closest route from the nearest highest peak.
This term is also referred to as the “topographic prominence.”
4. Mount Elbrus has two summit of about the same height
Another one of those fascinating Mount Elbrus facts is that it actually consists of two peaks that are located just next to each other. They also barely differ in height.
The western summit is the tallest and stands 5,642 meters (18,510 feet) above sea level and the eastern summit stands 5,621 meters (18,442 feet) above sea level.
5. It gets the title of highest mountain in Europe
While the famous Mont Blanc, which is located on the border of Italy and France and rises 4,808 meters (15,774 feet) above sea level is the tallest mountain in the European Union, Mount Elbrus is considered to be the tallest mountain in Europe.
The Caucasus mountain range, of which Mount Elbrus is the tallest peak, forms the natural boundary between Europe and Asia.
6. The mountain is more than 2.5 million years old
The western summit of the mountain has a massive crater with a diameter of about 250 meters (820 feet). The mountain itself is about 2.5 million old which means that in terms of its age, the volcano only became dormant recently.
7. It has had multiple names throughout history
Turkic people living near Mount Elbrus call it “Mingi-Tau,” which literally translates to “resembling a thousand mountains.” This name was given because of the huge size of the mountain.
Before that, the Latin name of the mountain was Sobilus which means “Pine Cone.” This name clearly refers to the shape of the mountain.
It also has a reference to Greek Mythology as the legend tells that the Titan Prometheus was once chained to the mountain by Zeus as a punishment for stealing fire from the gods and giving it to mankind.
8. The summits were ascended for the first time in the 19th century
Another one of the fun Mount Elbrus facts is that the first ascent happened twice, because, well, there are two summits!
The first ascent was done by a guide from the Imperial Russian Army named Khillar Khachirov. He reached the eastern summit on July 22, 1829.
The western summit, which is the highest, was reached by an English expedition led by F. Crauford Grove and including Frederick Gardner, Horace Walker, and the Swiss guide Peter Knubel in 1874.
Climbing Mount Elbrus has been very popular ever since these first ascents!
9. A cable car can bring visitors up the mountain
Back in the early days, climbers had to start all the way at the foot of the mountain to reach the summit. Right now, reaching the top is a lot easier because, between 1959 and 1976, cable cars have been built.
This can bring visitors in various stages from the lowest point to a height of about 3,800 meters (12,500 feet), which is well over half the mountain.
Climbing the mountain from this point to the south side only takes between 6 and 9 hours. Coming down takes between 3 to 6 hours so climbers can reach the summit and come back in just 1 day.
Because of the harsh conditions during winter, it’s virtually impossible to reach the summit then. In the summer, up to 100 people climb Mount Elbrus every day!
10. Two guys once reached the summit on a Quad
Russian climbers Artyom Kuimov and Sergey Baranov managed to get a spot in the famous Guinness Book of World Records when they climbed Mount Elbrus using a Quad.
This clearly shows that climbing the mountain isn’t just reserved for the most experienced climbers as there are hardly any technical passages, even though it requires a high level of fitness.
11. It’s home to the world’s nastiest toilet
Who would have thought that the world’s nastiest toilet was located on a mountain in Russia, right? Well, according to “Outside Magazine“, the toilet on Mount Elbrus is definitely the nastiest in the world!
This is mainly because climbers aren’t allowed to simply do their thing on the mountain itself and are forced to use the only available toilet, which in return is completely covered in ice.
You can just imagine the rest…
Luckily, there are still stations for climbers which have great sanitary installations as well, like the one below.
12. It’s the host of an annual race
Just as the race on Ben Nevis in Scotland, Mount Elbrus is the host of an annual race. It was first organized in the year 2008 and used to be part of the Skyrunner World Series.
On a good day, the winner can complete the race in less than 3 hours, which is a pretty astounding achievement!