Mount El’brus is located in southwest Russia and is part of the Caucasus Mountains. It is the highest point in Russia as well as the highest point in all of Europe. It makes up part of the Prielbrusye National Park. El’brus is one of the Seven Summits of the world, which are the tallest mountains on each of the seven continents.

El’brus is an extinct volcano that is around 2.5 million years old. Its last known eruption was in 50 C.E. Ancient peoples called the mountain Strobilus, which in Latin means “pine cone,” due to the mountain’s twisted shape.

It has two peaks, each of which rises over 5,590 meters (18,000 feet). The climate of El’brus is generally cold. Even during summer, nighttime temperatures are around -8°C (18°F). It is even colder above the snow line. Much of El’brus is covered by ice, and 22 glaciers can be found on the mountain. Water from glacier melt feeds surrounding rivers. The east summit of the mountain was first reached by the Russian army on a scientific expedition in 1829. In 1874, climbers reached the west summit, the highest point of the mountain.

Today, El’brus is a major tourism center. People mainly travel to the mountain for skiing and hiking. Reaching the summit of El’brus is highly challenging and should only be attempted at certain times of year. However, out of the Seven Summits, El’brus is considered one of the easiest to climb thanks to a cable car system that carries climbers up to an elevation of 3,658 meters (12,500 feet). Most climbers reach the peak in less than a week, but El’brus still has a high amount of deaths—around 30 annually—relative to the number of climbers who attempt to summit each year.

 

El'brus

Hikers traversing the plains below Russia's Mount El'brus. Part of the Caucasus Mountains, it is the highest above-ground peak in Europe.

Caucasus
Noun

region near the Caucasus Mountains, between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea.

Noun

all weather conditions for a given location over a period of time.

eruption
Noun

release of material from an opening in the Earth's crust.

expedition
Noun

journey with a specific purpose, such as exploration.

extinct volcano
Noun

volcano that will no longer erupt.

Noun

mass of ice that moves slowly over land.

mountain
Noun

landmass that forms as tectonic plates interact with each other.

peak
Noun

the very top.

summit
Noun

highest point of a mountain.

Noun

an opening in the Earth's crust, through which lava, ash, and gases erupt, and also the cone built by eruptions.