Elbrus is one of those symmetrical volcano’s with climbing that is much the same, one step after the next, until you get to the pass between the north and south peaks. Then you go left and trundle on up to the top.
Going out of the way, to the other side, to a different route, probably doesn’t have a lot of value, though I’m sure there must be some good adventures out there somewhere. Or you can opt for the ski descent – highly recommended.
So to get the most from Elbrus, you either step across the valley into the Caucusus, the incredible line of peaks you spend the whole day looking at when you descend from Elbrus. Or you properly visit Russia.
Elbrus is really just up the road from the Crimea and Yalta, where the black sea laps sweetly up against the shores and rock cliffs tower overhead. You can spend the morning doing 5:10 faces and swinging across even harder roofs, have lunch in the seaside cafes, and then in the heat of the afternoon, have a swim in the sea. Assuming there is still energy, fish restaurants line the back streets and the occasional club, and even a casino, is tucked down the back alleys. Why go home early from your climb with all that to explore?
And as much as it is in the opposite direction, what Moscow lacks in sophistication and charm, St. Petersburg more than makes up for. The Summer Palace alone is adorned with so much art half of its treasures live down dimly lit hallways littered with left over impressionistic works to discover. And with the cathedrals, tree lined avenues, coffee shops and relaxed bars, it is well worth going in the other direction from Elbrus to explore.
Because after all, the 7 summits are as much about the summits, as the continents and the culture you can discover below them.