One of the unique aspects of this climb is the different style of accommodation on Elbrus. While the tent remains the primary means of shelter on most mountains, Elbrus presents a much more comfortable and spacious way to sleep - the barrels.
The barrels ("bochki" in Russian) are steel cylinders in which 6-8 climbers can spend their nights. They often have electricity (at least until the generator is turned off or is broken), and provide much more shelter and warmth than a tent. They also provide significantly more room than a small tent (Adam and I won't have to play twister and sleep with each others parts near our respective faces) . The other advantage is that there is no tent to carry, set up and dismantle.
The barrels are rather old and not exactly what you would call 5 star lodging - I wouldn't take my wife here for our annual holiday - but they are a welcome sight after a hard days climb.
But wait - what if there was a new award winning accommodation at 13,000 feet that used state of the art technology for heating and cooling, had wifi, a dining hall, and even an indoor bathroom? While some traditionalist climbers might find these types of amenities heresy, this sounds like heaven on earth for a lazy trekker like me.
Well, my prayers have been answered - enter the LeapRus shelter, which opened at the end of last season. At 3912 metres, it looks like it ticks all of the boxes, and is still shiny and new! You can read an article on the entire LeapRus complex HERE. The shelter even has its own entry with reviews on Tripadvisor!!!
We plan on making use of this shelter on our way up the mountain - while it may not have the romanticism of sleeping in the wild with just a piece of canvas (or synthetic material) separating you from the elements, it does have an indoor toilet!
Where would you rather lay your head?