Prielbrusye National Park

Kabardino-Balkaria, Russia Europe icon Europe

Prielbrusye National Park is located in the southeastern part of Russia near the border of Georgia.  Mount Elbrus is the focal point of the park which sits in the middle of the Caucasus Mountains.  The national park encompasses an area of 3,900 square miles (10,100 sq km).

Mount Elbrus serves as the catalyst for the park’s formation.  Mount Elbrus is the tallest mountain in Europe and one of the official Seven Summits.  It reaches a height of 18,510.5 feet (5,642 m).  Mont Blanc is the tallest mountain in mainland Europe at 15,777 feet (4,808.7 m), which means that Mount Elbrus surpasses it by 2,733 feet (834 m).

Mount Elbrus and Prielbrusye National Park are in the central part of the Caucasus Mountains and together are one of the 22 national parks spread across the Caucasus Mountains and multiple countries.  The mountain ranges are filled with steep gorges, rugged mountains, and deep mountainous terrain.

The landscape of the national park features these steep and massive mountains along with glaciers, lava flows, and lake basins.  The glaciers of Elbrus feed the headwaters of the Malka River.

Glaciers or continually snow-covered mountains account for over 15% of the national park area.  The alpine nature of the park is the largest contributing factor to the vegetation of the park.  Pine trees dominate the vegetation when you get below tree-line elevations.  Other vegetation includes barberry, juniper, and wild rose.

Wildlife found within Prielbrusye National Park and the surrounding Mount Elbrus area includes the Syrian brown bear, steppe wolves, jackals, foxes, lynx, chamois, and wild boar.

Prielbrusye Highlights

Where some argue that Mount Elbrus is located within Asia, most recognize it as part of Europe and part of the dividing lines establishing the border between Asia and Europe.  As the largest country in the world, it is apropos that Russia is home to the largest mountain in Europe.

Mount Prielbrusye

Mount Elbrus is the tallest mountain in Europe and one of the official “Seven Summits” making it the highlight of Prielbrusye National Park.  It is a coveted climber’s destination, particularly for those who are in pursuit of summiting the “Seven Summits.”  It is a pinnacle attraction.

The summit of Mount Elbrus occurs at 18,510.5 feet (5,642 m).  In addition to being the tallest mountain in Europe, it is the highest stratovolcano in Eurasia and the tenth-most prominent summit in the world.  The mountain features two dormant volcanic domes with the western dome serves as the highest point.

Mount Elbrus has a permanent icecap which feeds 22 separate glaciers.  The runoff from these glaciers spawn the Baksan, Kuban, and Malka Rivers.

Prielbrusye National Park is a worldwide destination for mountaineering. Climbers are drawn to Mount Elbrus for the stunning view, the majestic climb, and checking off one of the Seven Summits.  The mountain does represent all of these achievements but it is also glorious in its picturesque nature.  The mountain offers many different photographic scenes serving as both the backdrop and the focal point.

Trails of Prielbrusye National Park

Climbing Mount Elbrus:  Let’s be candid and note that this is a challenging climb and climbers should be in good health and in good shape.  The climb takes several days with around three acclimating treks to help with altitude adjustment.  Almost everyone experiences some type of altitude sickness.  The final ascent/summit day takes between 12 to 15 hours to complete.

The primary road meanders 12.4 miles (20 km) across the park through the Adyl-Su Valley which is a worthy endeavor on its own.  The road provides access to several hiking paths that include trails that are easy and accessible to all and those that are more challenging and even multi-day treks.

Mzi Lake Trail: This is rated moderate.  It is a 7.5-mile ( 12.07 km) trail with an elevation gain of 1,650 feet (502.9 m).  It provides stellar views of the landscape around Mount Elbrus as well as the Mzi Lake.

Mezmay Upper Trail: This is a 7.8-mile (12.55 km) trail out and back.  It is rated moderate.  Hikers travel out to the Eagle Regiment and then higher up with panoramic views of the regiment as well as surrounding landscape.  Birdwatching is popular on this trail.  It has an elevation gain of 1,233 feet (375.8 m).

 

Prielbrusye Highlights

  • Mount Elbrus
  • Europe's tallest mountain
  • Caucasus Mountains

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