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Elbrus Skiing

The ski area itself is so high that skiing continues year round (as with Timberline in Oregon) with the upper slopes reached by snowcat. Low cost heli-skiing is also available and is another draw for international clients. The fixed lifts serve 35 km (22 miles) of marked and groomed trails.

Winter Skiing The ski season is from mid-December to mid-April. Rates for the ski lifts and cable car (2001-2002): $1,0 per section, a skipass is $6 per day. Lifts operate from 9.00 to 16.00. Two sections of the cable car from Azau to Mir station and one section of the chairlift work all year round. Summer working hours are from 11.00 to 15.00.

Summer skiing is only possible on the slopes of Elbrus using the cable car to Mir station then to chairlift (if in working order) to Garabashi at 3800m. From here it is possible to ski down to Mir station till the end of June (depending on snow conditions). Above Garabashi skiing is possible throughout summer; snow cats will take skiers up to 4600m and the price depends on the numbers involved. Note that from Pastukhova Rocks up to 5000m slopes are wind blown and icy from winter till mid-spring making them dangerous for skiing.

Ski-touring It is possible to ski-tour all winter but the weather is really cold and stormy. The best season is from mid-February to mid-April. Spring touring is more pleasant (worm, good snow condition) but tends to be limited to north-facing slopes where snow lasts longer.

Heli skiing is possible from January to the beginning of April. The best time is March. Helicopters are hired at Nalchik airport. Because of a lack of hut systems more remote ski-routes are best tackled with the assistance of a helicopter.

Facilities. Ski-shops do not exist and ski-hire is extremely limited. Only very basic repairs can be carried out in the valley bases. It is important to be self-sufficient and the area is not suitable for beginners.

The ski lifts are situated above the Bacsan valley, where Prielbrusye is one of the largest holiday centres in southern Russia. From here this is a spectacular mountain view from within the national wildlife park with its protected flora and fauna. You can ski Mount Elbrus or the nearby ski area of Cheget from this holiday resort.

The "Elbrus" cable car ascends in stages. The first from the "Azau" station to the station "Stary Krugozor" rises 650 m over its 2500 m length. The 2nd section from the station "Stary Krugozor" to the station "Mir" rises a further 500 m and is another 2000 m in length. The third and final section rises from the "Mir" station to the top "Gara Bashi" station, a further 250 m altitude rise. The length of the ski run back down is 2 km.

Pre-Elbrus is one of the three biggest alpine skiing resorts of Russia. It offers unique possibilities for alpine skiers. In the deepness of the Baksan Valley you may visit the national park Pre-Elbrus - the heart of the Caucasus. It is famous for skiing with lifting on ratraka, snowboard, ski-extreme, heli-ski. There are 12 km of ski lifting and 21 km alpine routes, 2 main slopes. Cheget and Elbrus towns (the heights is 5642) in Pre-Elbrus. Mountain skiing is available all year round in some parts of the slopes. The highest available top is shelter Gara-Bashi, the height is 3900 m above sea level and you can reach it by a ski lift. Some parts of alpine routes are also suitable for beginners. Sometimes ratrak can deliver tourists even on the heights of 4800 m above sea level. The length of the longest route of Azay resort is 2.5 km with a charge of levels of 650 m.

Cheget town - is one of the most difficult routes in the world alpine skiing resorts. There are 15 routes in the world alpine skiing resorts. There are 15 routes with changeable heights from 2100 to 3050 m in Pre-Elbrus. The height is 3700 m. There is a mineral source small narzan Achi-Su near the Terskol village. For alpine skiers there are such hotels as Cheget, Volfram, Terskol, Itkol, Hijina Azau. Private hotels on Chegetskaya Polyana are also available in the resort.

Distance: Terskol - Minvody - 190 km, Terskol - Nalchik - 130 km.
Number of ski lifts: on Cheget - 5, on Elbrus - 6.
Skiing zone: Cheget 2100-3550 m, Elbrus 2280-3800 m.
Length of the slopes: Cheget - 10 km, Elbrus - 11 km.

Cable and chair lifts in the area

There are only two places in Elbrus region, equipped with ski-lift. 

Elbrus line:
Two cable lifts and one chair lift parts going one by one.
Cable car bottom station in the Baksan valley - 2200 m (7218 ft)
Top chair lift station ("Barrels" huts) - 3900 m (12795 ft)

Elbrus mountain with 2 lift line till 3000 m and 3700 m with normally steep slopes and snow conditions, depanding upon the people quantity making skiing and snow fall history, then chair lift comes till 3900 m - with not steep slope, where there is "Bochki" Refuge. From this point usually possible to get to 4200 m level, using standard snow-track. The slope between 3900 - 4200 m is also not steep, but with the splendid view over all Western and Central Caucasus.

In order to get more adventure and fresh deep snow, using "snow-cat" drive (10 persons inside) it's possible to get to 4200 - 4500 m level in Elbrus peak and use special circle line among absolutely wild region of Elbrus till the altitude of 2200 m - you come directly to the first lift station in Elbrus. Basically it takes one day or a half of day for one ski descent like this one. 

It's possible to go walking up the Elbrus slope higher 4200 m till 4800 m level - normal snow line border for March - April time. There is opened ice upper this altitude. It's rather easy walk - the only problem is the altitude itself and strong wind - some-times.

Cheget line:
Two parts of chairlifts going one by one.
Bottom station is at Cheget site (hotel 'Cheget') 
Middle station, cafe 'Ai'
Upper station, meteorological station.

Cheget Mountain with two not long chair lifts line and good view over the Elbrus in the distance and the huge North face of Donguz-Orun Mt. (4400 m) just in front of gigantic "figure of seven" ice fall 1000 m in high.

Mt. Cheget has three possibility to make a ski as follows:
* Normal way - so called "Mogul" with a lot of hillocks;
* South slopes - with flat rather steep snow slope
* North slope - with steep slopes and deep snow - some times with avalanche danger. 

If to speak about service on the ski-lifts - it can not be compared with west Europe at all. So basically, the people, that comes to Elbrus region for ski - are coming for ski-safari in Elbrus, described above, ski-tour programs and heli-skiing possibility.

Some Points on the slopes of Elbrus

The Barrels (Botchki) huts, upper lift station - 3900 m
'Diesel' hut (former Priut-11 spot) - 4100 m
Pastuckhov Rocks - from 4650 to 4800 m (15256 - 15748 ft)
Saddle - 5416 m (17769 ft)

Approximate direct way distances:

Bottom cable car station - Top chair lift station - 5000 m (16404 ft)
Top chair lift station - Pastuckhov Rocks - 2800 m (9186 ft)
Pastuckhov Rocks - Saddle - 2500 m (8202 ft)
Saddle - Summit - 750 m  (2461 ft)

Approximate real foot way distances:

Top chair lift station - Pastuckhov Rocks - 3300 m (10827 ft)
Pastuckhov Rocks - Saddle - 4000 m (13123 ft)
Saddle - Summit - 1200 m (3937 ft)

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