Mount Elbrus is a dormant volcano located in the western Caucasus mountain range, in Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachay–Cherkessia, Russia, near the border of Georgia. Mt. Elbrus's peak is the highest in the Caucasus, in Russia. While there are differing authorities on how the Caucasus are distributed between Europe and Asia, many sources agree that Elbrus is also the highest mountain in all of Europe.
Elevation: 18,510 feet (5,642 meters)
Prominence: 15,554 feet (4,741 meters)
Location: Caucasus Range, Russia. On the border of Asia and Europe.
Coordinates: 43°21′18″ N / 42°26′21″ E
First Ascent: 1874 by Florence Crauford Grove, Frederick Gardner, Horace Walker, Peter Knubel, and Ahiya Sottaiev (guide).
Elbrus has two summits with the West Summit at 18,510 feet (5,642 meters) slightly higher than the East Summit at 18,442 feet (5,621 meters).
A cable car and chairlift, built between 1959 and 1976, ferries climbers up Mount Elbrus to 12,500 feet. From there, most ascend the Standard Route up the south flank to the summit. The route is mostly free of crevasses, making it relatively safe. The Standard Route, however, is not easy with lots of snow, high winds, and a high elevation defeating many attempts. Many climbers attempting the mountain are inexperienced and ill-equipped. Most climbers take the cable car, operating from 9 a.m to 3 p.m., and stay overnight at the Diesel Hut. An alpine start at 2 in the morning allows enough for climbers to reach the summit and descend to the cable car/chairlift in time for the last ride down.
Climbers regularly die on Mount Elbrus, as many as 30 a year. In 2004 alone, 48 climbers and skiers died on the mountain. Elbrus is considered one of the world’s most deadly peaks with a high ratio of climber deaths to climbers.
In 1991, Outside Magazine called the outhouse at the now-burned Pruitt Hut at 13,800 feet on Elbrus the world’s nastiest outhouse. The privy gets lots of use by Elbrus summiteers, who drink lots of water and take Diamox, a prescription drug for altitude sickness but also an effective diuretic. The outhouse perches above a rocky outcrop, with a hole in the wooden floor that opens to the snowy world below. Surprisingly, however, it doesn’t smell—everything is frozen solid!