The two peaks of Mt Elbrus – the western at 5642m and eastern at 5621m – bulge nearly 1000m above anything else in the vicinity. This volcanic cone has upper slopes reputedly coated in ice up to 200m thick; numerous glaciers grind down its flanks and several rivers start here. Although many come to climb or ski the mountain, cable cars carrying passengers as high as 3847m make it easy going for those who just wish to admire the view.
The name ‘Elbrus’, meaning ‘Two Heads’, comes from Persian. In Balkar it’s ‘Mingi-Tau’ (meaning ‘thousands’, ie very big mountain).