Mount Elbrus (Russian: Эльбру́с, tr. El'brus, Karachay-Balkar: Минги тау, Miñi taw) 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, or the highest in western Asia, narrowly exceeding (by 32 meters/106 feet) another volcano, Mount Damavand in the Alborz range in Iran.
Mt. Elbrus (west summit) stands at 5,642 metres (18,510 ft); the east summit is slightly lower at 5,621 metres (18,442 ft). The lower of the two summits was first ascended on 10 July 1829 (Julian calendar) by Khillar Khachirov, a Karachay guide for an Imperial Russian army scientific expedition led by General Emmanuel, and the higher (by about 40 m-130 ft) in 1874 by an English expedition led by F. Crauford Grove and including Frederick Gardner, Horace Walker, and Swiss climber Peter Knubel.
The Normal Route is the easiest, safest and fastest on account of the cable car and chairlift system which operates from about 9am till 3pm. Starting for the summit at about 2am from the Diesel Hut should allow just enough time to get back down to the chairlift if movement is efficient. A longer ascent Kiukurtliu Route starts from below the cable-way Mir station and heads west over glacier slopes towards the Khotiutau pass.
Climbing Elbrus from other directions is a tougher proposition because of lack of permanent high facilities. Douglas Freshfield always maintained that a route from the east up the Iryk valley, Irykchat glacier and over the Irykchat pass (3667m) on to snowfields below long rock ribs of the east spur would become the shortest and most used approach. Three permits are required for climbing. Foreigners need a Border Zone Permit to be in any area south of Baksan. Prielbrusie National Park Permit is required for access to the park. Foreigners also must be registered in OVIR (Visa and Registration department) in Tyrnyauz.