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Introducing Elbrus Area

Mt Elbrus rises imperiously on a northern spur of the Caucasus ridge at the end of the Baksan Valley. Surrounding it and flanking the valley are mountains that are lesser in height but equally awe-inspiring.

The tourist facilities that are littered along the valley floor make this potential Switzerland less attractive. Terskol is a disgrace, with its decrepit buildings, half-built or demolished constructions and a scrap yard of rusting steel work. But visitors come for the majestic mountains where there's energetic skiing, exciting hikes and climbing.

The area - known in Russian as Prielbruse - pulls in a more adventurous crowd than Dombay, but day-trippers can use chairlifts or cable cars to reach the slopes of Mt Elbrus, or they can view its peaks from across the valley. Given the visa registration and border permit complexities, most foreign tourists come on a prearranged tour group.