Preparation to Mount Elbrus climb

Why do you need to prepare?

If you only read one page on our site, this should be it. Climbing Mt. Elbrus is probably one of the most dangerous things you will ever do.

Mountain climbing is not as straightforward as a lot of other fun and challenging activities available. A mountain climbing trip requires a lot of preparations and you really have to make sure that you are both physically and mentally ready for this kind of adventure.

If you start to prepare yourself to Elbrus climb several months in advance, this will enhance your chances for successful climb and will prepare your body and mind to those challenges. Will you suffer or will you enjoy - this mostly depends on your physical conditions and mindset.

Climb preparation

Training

Cardiovascular training is most important. This can be jogging or dancing Zumba at your favourite fitness club. You mostly have to train your endurance. Training your joints and specific muscles is also essential. Though hillwalking with a backpack is the best, step machine at a gym will also work out.

Sleeping and excercising at moderate to high altitudes is the best. But if you live at the sea level and there are no mountains nearby, there are some ways to train your altitude adaptive capacity.

The muscles of respiration, from the diaphragm and the intercostals to the assisting musculature, need to be trained like any other muscles to increase resistance to fatigue and maximize performance. Training masks allow users to actively work on their respiratory muscle fitness. Originally they were designed to simulate training at altitude.

Training in hypoxic (low oxygen) environments increases red blood cell mass and improves oxygen transport. The use of training masks, however, has no measurable effect on haemoglobin, hematocrit levels and oxygen transport in athletes, as they do not alter the oxygen concentration of the air taken in. However, they appear to add resistance to the respiratory muscles by limiting air supply, thus triggering an adaptive physiological response.

Hypoventilation training is a physical training method in which periods of exercise with reduced breathing frequency are interspersed with periods with normal breathing. The hypoventilation technique consists of short breath holdings and can be performed in different types of exercise: running, cycling,swimming, rowing, skating, etc.

Generally, there are two ways to carry out hypoventilation: at high lung volume or at low lung volume. At high lung volume, breath holdings are performed with the lungs full of air (inhalation then breath hold). Conversely, during hypoventilation at low lung volume, breath holdings are performed with the lung half full of air. To do so, one has to first exhale normally, without forcing, then hold one’s breath. This is called the exhale-hold technique.

The scientific studies have shown that only hypoventilation at low lung volume could lead to both a significant decrease in oxygen (O2) concentrations in the body and an increase incarbon dioxide concentrations (CO2).

After several weeks of hypoventilation training, physiological adaptations occur that delay the onset of acidosis during a maximal exertion test. The studies have shown that at a given workload, pH and blood bicarbonate concentrations were higher, whereas lactate concentrations had a tendency to decrease. The reduction in acidosis would be due to an improvement in buffer capacity at the muscle level.

This is an innovative method to get pre-acclimatized before going to high mountains. Search for this kind of trainings, probably they are available in your city. Sleep at altitude tents is also available by providers of altitude training systems. These tents create conditions similar to sleep at high altitude.

Documents

Most foreign tourists have to obtain the Russian visa for visiting the country. It is necessary to apply for visa at the Russian consulate in your country while providing filled in application form, invitation letter issued by a Russian tourist agency or hotel, and some other documents.

Normally, it takes around 2 weeks to get your visa ready, but it differs from country to country. It is always better to visit visa centre in advance.

After getting your deposit of 20%, we will provide you with an invitation letter and tourist voucher and you can initiate visa procedures.

Important! Please make sure that you have stated right entry dates in your visa application! Even if your flight lands at 23.30 on the day before your visa comes in force, you will not be allowed for boarding.

We always recommend to undergo medical check before booking your trip to Elbrus, especially when this is your first time to high mountains. It can happen that you have any medical conditions that are essential for your wellbeing at high altitude.

If you have any pre-existing conditions, you should ask your doctor about how high altitude may effect you, how to take your medications, whether it will be necessary to change your normal dosage, and other related questions.

Strong contraindications against climbing Mt. Elbrus are:

  • epilepsy;
  • diabetes;
  • cardiovascular diseases;
  • mental disorders;
  • lung diseases (including asthma);
  • pregnancy.

You have to inform us about any other chronical medical conditions and medicines that you are taking, for our guides to consider all this during the trip. This can be:

  • any severe traumas in past, especially head traumas;
  • allergy;
  • problems with joints;
  • gastrointestinal diseases;
  • spine problems;
  • any others.

For people older than 60 years medical check is obligatory before booking their trip.

Mountaineering is a potentially risky type of activity. Danger can come from sun radiation, rock instability or fall, snow, ice, extreme hot or cold temperatures, dehydration, acute mountain sickness, winds, mountain equipment failures, human error, aggravation of chronic diseases. One who decides to participate in a climbing expedition has to accept the listed above inherent risks that may cause equipment loss or damage or accidental injuries, sicknesses or, in extreme cases, permanent trauma or death.

That’s why we ask our clients to provide us with a copy of their insurance letter in order to have it ready in case when helicopter evacuation or medical treatment is necessary. You can buy your insurance self or order it by us - we have contracts with several Russian insurance companies.

Most likely you will be flying via Moscow or Saint-Petersburg. There are several airlines and many flights which you can choose from. If you've booked one of our scheduled departures and want to catch the group airport transfer which is included into the tour cost, you have to arrive with any flight which is landing in Mineralnye Vody before 2 p.m. Otherwise you will need a private transfer which costs €80 one way for the south route and €25 for the north route.

There are direct flights from Dubai and Istanbul to Mineralnye Vody. They arrive late at night. Here you have to options: to stay at hotel near the airport and come back next day for the group transfer. Or to order a private airport transfer and to go to hotel in Terskol straight upon arrival.

Important: In all cases please make sure that your flight is landing in Russia not before the Russian visa comes in force, even if you are not going to leave transit area and will take a connection flight to Mineralnye Vody. Otherwise you will not be allowed for boarding.

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