When you think of Europe, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Cobblestoned streets and tree-lined boulevards? Delicious food and German beer? How about snow-capped mountains? No, not the Alps. There are lots of other impressively high peaks across Europe, especially among the mountains in Eastern Europe.
So, for the adventure traveller who isn’t of a bit snow, here’s a list of some of the highest mountains in Eastern Europe for you to add to your bucket list this year. Whether you’re a professional mountaineer or an enthusiastic amateur, these mountains are definitely worth a visit. Just be sure to stay safe and follow all the mountain climbing safety tips.
Let’s take a look at the 5 highest mountains in Eastern Europe. Ready to go?
1. Mount Elbrus, Russia
Topping our list is the marvellous Mount Elbrus. A part of the Caucasus range in Russia it is actually the highest peak in all of Europe, as well as one of the world’s “seven summits” – the highest point on every continent. The mountain itself sits near the border with Georgia.
Elbrus has two summits, both of which form a double-coned volcano. Don’t worry though, the last known eruption was in the year 50 AD. It clocks in as the tenth tallest in the world, at a height of 5,642 m (18,510 ft), which is 832m higher than Western Europe’s highest mountain, Mont Blanc. Despite this, Europe’s highest peak is said to be quite easy to ascend, though not without its challenges.
First ascent: Khillar Khachirov, in 1829 (east summit) and a British expedition led by F. Crauford Grove, in 1874 (west summit)
2. Dykh-Tau, Russia
If this article doesn’t demonstrate that the Russian Caucasus Mountains are just as majestic (if not more) than the Alps, nothing will. Dykh-Tau, whose name literally means “jagged mount,” is the second highest peak in the Caucasus Mountains. Located near the border with Georgia, this mountain is 5,205 m (17,077 feet) at its highest point.
Dykh-Tau is best accessed from the Russian village of Bezingi which has a special Alpine Camp at 2180m. Climbs take at least 13 days and can be quite challenging. The area is also known for frequent avalanches.
First ascent: Mummery and Zarfluh, in 1888
3. Shkhara, Georgia
At 5,201 m (17,060 ft), Shkhara is the third-highest peak in the Caucasus Mountains. It is located in Georgia, close to the city of Kutaisi, and is the highest point in the country. The peak is also the high point of the Bezingi Wall, a 12-kilometre-long ridge along the Georgian-Russian border.
Shkhara is notoriously hazardous and is called one of Europe’s most tough climbs. There are high levels of snow all year round, and the terrain is treacherous, rocky, and steep. Though there are great risks, there are also great reards, as there are also truly breathtaking views. However, for those dissuaded by this peak, be sure to check out the charming nearby Georgian village of Ushguli at the base.
First ascent: U. Almer, J. Cockin and C. Roth, in 1888
4. Koshtan-Tau, Russia
Moving back across the border to the Russian segment of the Caucasus, we find Koshtan-Tau. It is the highest peak of the Koshtan massif, and with an elevation of 5,144 m (16,877 feet) is the fourth highest mountain in Europe.
Situates close to the Georgian border, its steep altitude means that it is covered with snow throughout the year, making for some particularly scenic vistas.
First ascent: Herman Woolley and party, in 1889
5. Mount Ararat, Turkey
Though it may not technically be in Europe (rather being in Eurasia), Mount Ararat is one of the highest mountains in the region. Located on the borders between Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Iran, it actually consists of two major volcanic cones: Greater Ararat, at 5,137 m (16,854 ft) and Little Ararat, at 3,896 m (12,782 ft).
According to local legend, Mount Ararat is said to be the resting place of Noah’s Ark, and is also considered sacred by Armenians. Mount Ararat is a fairly active volcano (with the latest eruption occurring in 1840) so be sure to take the necessary precautions.
First ascent: Friedrich Parrot and Khachatur Abovian, and party, in 1829
Have you climbed any of these mountains in Eastern Europe? If so do share your stories in the comments below.