Mount Elbrus located in the Caucasus Mountains is the highest point in Europe with its 5.642m. (The official definition of the boundary between Europe and Asia is the Ural Mountain range some hundred kilometers to the East.)
Climbing Mt Elbrus is technically straightforward. The South side is merely a walk up, with a short traverse with a drop down of 35-45 degrees. However, its upper reaches are still well within what is physiologically defined as extreme altitude and you are walking on a permanent ice cap.
The weather, as always, plays a leading and slightly unpredictable role in the climb. Factors such as wind, visibility, precipitation and even ambient air pressure all conspire to work against the unlucky or un-prepared mountaineer. It is here that using an experienced and knowledgeable guide and in preparing yourself physically, mentally and in equipment terms is essential. This includes preparing yourself psychologically for the chance that you may have to turn around in order to safely return as a result of factors outside your control.
One or many of the factors above, can sometimes lead to climbers facing an emergency situation high on the mountain. It is in acknowledgement of this that between 2007 and 2010 an emergency shelter was built in the saddle between the twin peaks of Elbrus at around 5.375m. The idea was to provide a refuge and rallying point for those in distress that would provide temporary emergency shelter.
The first shelter was blown away and in 2010 was a new one placed, a tiny small polymer box. The inside is Spartan, beyond the double-doored airlock is a single rectangular space with a couple of platforms as beds. There are beds for 3 people, and 1 can sleep on the floor, sleep might be too much to call it, lets call it rest.
There’s a warning sign telling that the inside temperature can drop to below minus 50 degrees Celsius as there isn’t any insulation at all.
But nevertheless can the emergency hut come in handy for those in distress.
Location: in the saddle between the twin peaks
Accommodate: 3-4 persons (if lying down) 8 if sitting