Elbrus – King of the Caucasus Part III

by | September 21, 2021


The ascent of Elbrus

The first ascent of Elbrus took place on July 10, 1829 by order of the commander-in-chief of the Russian troops in the Caucasus, General EMANUEL, hero of the Patriotic War of 1812. The general had a camp built in the upper Malka valley. There the expedition group of Cossacks and soldiers was assembled and equipped. Only the local guide, the 60-year-old Kabardian KILLAR CHASCHIROW, reached the summit (west summit, 5642 m) after 11 hours and erected a stone pyramid there. The general had followed the ascent with the telescope and fired a salute. CHASCHIROW received 100 gold rubles in recognition.

The second ascent was carried out by the English in 1868. They asked the ataman in the Baksan Valley for assistance. He sent them some experienced old people who were reluctantly taken away. ACHIJA SOTTAJEW, an 80-year-old Balkar, brought her to the east summit (5621 m). Six years later, in 1874, the western summit (5642 m) was “conquered” by the English. The ascent was organized by the Geographical Club in London under A. GROWE. Sottayev was the leader again. Unconfirmed sources report that he is said to have been on the Elbrus fifteen times, most recently in 1902 at the age of 114.

The military topographer AW PASTUCHOW climbed the western summit in 1890 and the eastern summit in 1896. He was responsible for the first map of Elbrus, into which the results of his physical and meteorological observations were incorporated.

GUSEW and W. KORSUN carried out the first winter ascent to the east summit in 1934. A year later, in January under N. GUSAK, German alpinists stood on the western summit.

The ascent with the largest number of participants took place in 1967 on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the October Revolution; 2288 Soviet citizens have climbed to the east summit.

In 1969 the Georgian ALEXEJ BERBERASCHWILI drove a specially prepared motorcycle to the summit, which he reached on the 7th attempt.

The oldest climber of Elbrus was the Cabardian mountain guide TSCHOKKA SALICHANOW. He has been to the summit 209 times, most recently at the age of 110. He passed away a year later.

The youngest person to stand on the summit was DAVID GASCHWIANI at the age of 7.

The most famous mountain guide in the Elbrus area was the Svaneti MICHAEL CHERGIANI. He worked in the Schchelda mountaineering camp from 1957 and had a fatal mountaineering accident in Italy in 1969. The English Queen honored him with the title “Tiger of the Rocks”. CHERGIANI was the only one who managed the Traverse Dongusorun – Nakra Tau in one tour.

Only a few alpinists have conquered the much easier traverse from the east summit to the west summit in one tour. In this case, traverse means: After the strenuous ascent to 5621 m (east summit), descent of approx. 300 m into the saddle and then again ascent to 5642 m (west summit) before you can descend to the Baksan valley.

The traditional ascent route to the summit began in Terskol (2150 m), led over the Novyj Krugosor (new panoramic view; non-public hut), Piket 105 (3400 m; hut), ice storage (3700 m; meterological and volcanological station) to Prijut 11 (4200 m). From there it went up the slope to Prijut Pastuchow (4800 m) and through the saddle (5325 m) to the west summit (Fig. 10).

In 1990 this route had already been forgotten and the structures on it had been abandoned. The ice camp and Piket 105 were found as a desert. The name “Prijut 11” (“place of refuge” for the 11) goes back to 11 St. Petersburg students who were sick in the mountains and who spent one night here in 1905. A. W. PASTUCHOW is a famous Russian military topographer who worked in the Elbrus area from 1887 to 1889.

In the 1970’s, work began on building a cable car to Prijut 11 above Asau. In 1974, with the completion of the Mir (Peace) station, construction was no longer continued. In 1983 a lift extension to the Botschkis (barrel base; barrels Russian Botschki) went into operation.

From then on, this railway was the starting point for the Elbrus ascent. It begins in Asau (2366 m), leads in a westerly direction up to Staryj Krugosor (old panoramic view; 2980 m; change) and then to the northwest reaches the Mir (3700 m; Fig. 11). The climbers take the lift to the barrel base (3900 m; overnight accommodation; Fig. 12) and climb to Prijut 11, the height of which is given today as 4050 m. The Prijut is usually the starting point for climbing the peaks. The departure is at midnight. From here on, the old route is used again.

Elbrus - King of the Caucasus 3