Joe O'Leary is a guide for Ireland, Africa, Russia and in the Himalayas. Trainer & Expedition Co-ordinator. He is a secondary school teacher at Bishopstown Community School in Co. Cork. He has been a long serving member of the school's board of management and has served as principal and assistant principal. Joe's passion remains in hands-on education and over the years he has led numerous groups of pupils on teambuilding and adventure activities both in Ireland and abroad.
Joe has worked with Transition Year Students winning many awards over the years, Joe is a skilled mountain leader and an avid skier. He has guided on many of international treks and expeditions to Africa, Russia and the Himalayas.
In 1995 he accompanied Pat in scaling the first summit of his seven summits' challenge, Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. He has been a coordinator of Pat Falvey's challenges in both logistics and equipment design.
Through his long association with outdoor adventure, Joe has developed an active enthusiasm for environmental issues. He is particularly outspoken on the dangers of global warming and believes that it is only through education that we can hope to protect the future of our planet for future generations.
George Kotov is one of Russia's leading climbers and has climbed extensively around the world, on all of the great ranges. He lives in St Petersburg.
His hobbies include paragliding, microlighting and is a avid fan of off road rally, having personally driven from Russia to Tibet. He was formally one of Russia top speed climbers. He was the first to make winter ascents of two 7000m peaks in the Pamirs. He has also climbed Mt. Everest.
Kilimanjaro news: We are now one of the world's leading adventure company's working on Kilimanjaro with over 1250 people having reached the summit over the last 12 years. Below is another one of this year's group who had a 100% summit success.
July 2014: We laughed our way to the summit. As usual we had all of the trauma of climbing a high altitude mountain but the team weathered them all. Summit night was cold and with the wind chill was -17 degrees. Luckily, all had equipment to weather the conditions. All the team are down safely.
Also see another one of our teams success by going to 100% summit August 17th 2014.
Expedition Leaders Pat Falvey and Freddy Tarimo.
There are five different climatical zones as we make our way to the Roof of Africa.
Zone 1: The coffee and banana plantation. This area is full of life and where the locals that work on the mountain mainly live.
Zone 2: The rain forest. Popular question is - does it rain?! It is humid, beautiful with amazing plantation but has very little wildlife.
Zone 3: The moorland/alpine region. The plantation is more alpine with beautiful flowers and from our entry to this region we will be living above the clouds. Usually warm during the day and cold at night.
Zone 4: The lunar desert. This is an amazing rocky desert with little or no growth or life. The rock is brownish red and feels as if you are walking through a moon-type landscape. Warm during the day but gets cold if the wind picks up. By night the temperature really drops and at time goes below 0 degrees.
Zone 5: The depleting Arctic region. The days can be warm and we go through a vast difference in temperatures in this region. It can go from +25 degrees and down to -25 degrees depending on the season.
All the team are ready to take on this amazing challenge.
Picture: Our team at our hotel briefing. Checking out their home for the next 7 days.
Elbrus Days 6 and 7: What a few days. We did not post pre summit as we had no internet. Now updated on the above dates for those following the adventure.
Day 6: We rose at 07:30 to blue skies and high winds. Breakfast at 08:00 and then a big day's climbing. Unsure of how everyone would preform we had three milestones in place for the day; the higher we go the more acclimatized the team were. First, the bottom of Pastaov rocks at 4600 meters, second, the top of Pastov Rocks at 4800 meters and third would be 5100 meters just before the long traverse under the east summit of Elbrus.
The team were very strong and we ascended 1000 meters to 5100 meters which took six hours of hard slogging at high altitude in high winds, which added to the hardship. A number of the team were suffering from slight headache but we did ascend 1000 meters and all the team were delighted and all acclimatized well.
The team were exhausted but all were ecstatic at their achievement of having climbed over 1000 meters. This was the first time that I felt all the team were confident in their summit ambitions.
Day 7: A day of technical training on gear, crampon use and ice axe arrest, as well as decision day on the summit attempt. Weather was our major problem; the forecast was for iffy weather for a summit attempt. We had marginal weather conditions, but we had done everything right and the team were ready for a hard summit attempt, acclimatized and prepared for whatever Elbrus put up to them.
Climbing, trek and go on expedition with Ireland's leading adventure company www.patfalvey.com for your next adventure. Expedition leader Pat Falvey Irish & Worldwide Adventures with Artem Rostovtsev
Day 4: We went to the glacier today for final preparation and acclimatization before we move up from Cheget Base Camp at 2000 meters tomorrow to make final assault on Elbrus to higher camps above 4000 meters. The team are now ready. This is our fourth day acclimatizing. Today on Elbrus we tested our gear to ensure all is fitting well, especially those with hired boots. This was our last chance to return to Cheget Base Camp and make final adjustments and changes before moving onto the mountain proper. The team were excited as this was their first time to ascend above the snow line and also above 4000 meters. We met the Russian Golden Circle Girls Club en route and in typical Irish style, we sang and danced with them on the glacier. Everyone was in good voice. See Joe Byrne's recording on facebook pre this article. Pat Falvey led the session with 'We're singing in the rain'.
Some of the team displayed some signs of the effects of altitude but nothing they won't get over in the next few days as we rise higher and get the bodies ready for a final summit attempt. The team now have now a pace and system in place to ensure we work as a unified moving train. All the team are focused on not alone themselves but their team members. I know how upsetting it would be for any member to run into problems in reaching the summit at this stage. The team are all confident in our ability as a unit to pull it off, but they also realize this is a BIG mountain and that many things can go wrong up here, such as altitude problems, sickness, exhaustion, injury, the weather and anyone in the team could just simply have a bad day. All of those problems have to be overcome and hopefully they will, with a positive mind, proper acclimatization, good weather and attitude, and being careful. Weather was good today with temperatures of 25 degrees. Tomorrow we move up and I might not be able to post for a few days. We have 5 days to summit if we need but we are hoping to summit Friday/Saturday. We are back in the comfort of Cheget Base Camp this evening and enjoying the comforts of our hotel as we pack for the mountain tomorrow. Keep posted and share if you know people interested.
#Elbrus Day 3: The team are acclimatizing great and working well together and are like the Musketeers - 'all for one and one for all' . Today we did a further acclimatizing trek and choose one of the most beautiful valleys in the area. I usually add a few extra days to ensure proper acclimatization for all the team. We descended down valley today from our Cheget Base Camp to Elbrus village at 1800 meters. It gave us a chance also to experience the signs of transformation of old farmsteads which are being abandoned and the development of modern farms and houses. After a brief look around we headed up a steep and spectacular gorge with a torrential river running from the Irikchat Valley which brought us up steep mixed ground which had signs of massive erosion and which we had to tread carefully. We made our way through the pine forest and out onto the high meadowlands which are used during the summer season to feed cattle and horses. We met a few sheperds on route by horse into the valley. The gorge is 20km long and brought us into the base of the east slopes of Mt Elbrus. We trekked for 4 hours uphill in good weather, stopped for lunch and relaxed for an hour to acclimatize and then we descended in 2 hours in a thunderstorm. Tonight we do a check on all gear that we require for the snow and ice on Elbrus. All gear that the team is short we will hire. My concern is that we have 5 of our team with size 12 boot size -'big lads with big feet'. Tomorrow we move up on to the ice from Cheget to acclimatize before we return to base in the afternoon with all gear tested and ready to pack. The following day we move up and will spend a further 5 days high on the mountain and then hopefully summit. Keep posted and share if you know others interested in following. Internet will be limited once on the mountain. www.patfalvey.com
Team exp leaders Pat Falvey and Artrem Rostovtsev.
Other team members: Phyll Blake Byrne, Neol Garrahan, Paddy Lonergan.
— with Mick Knockanora and 8 others. (11 photos)
#Elbrus Day 2: Today we climbed to the Terskol Observatory from Terskol Village. We moved our strategy from yesterday when we got high fast by chair lift to 3000 meters and then trekked to 3400 meters and returned to base camp at the village of Cheget at 2000 meters. Today was cardio aerobic session trek, to get the heart, lungs and blood pumping to the muscles at altitude. We trekked through the village of Terskol, then up through the pine forest and alpine region with its beautiful display of wild flowers. It was a beautiful sight to see hundreds of different wild alpine flowers. Ascent including rest and stopoff at waterfall then on to the Observatory at 3100 meters. It took 5 hours and the descent took 2 hours. Weather was stable in the morning and on returning back to Terskol we experienced a thunder storm just breaking out. Today we acclimatise by walking from base camp at 2000 meters and walk to the Observatory at 3100 meters, a total ascent of 1100 meters to one of the country's main astronomical observation telescopes and operated by the International Center for Astronomical, Medical, and Ecological Studies, Kiev, Ukraine. This is a hugely interesting place to go and see and had been equipped for research between 1970 - 1990. Our journey took us through the lower farm region to the more rugged volcanic area before the Observatory.All the team acclimatizing great. Eating and resting well and getting oxygen saturation up over the next two days before going higher for final days of assault on Elbrus.
Keep following our progress.Tomorrow we continue our acclimatization marking sure our bodies are right before moving up on Elbrus. — with Brian Gallogly and 6 others.
Tony Nation, Trekking Guide & Trainer
Tony's love for adventure has taken him to many regions of our planet, he enjoys leading groups in Africa, Russia, Nepal and South America. Like many of our adventure guides and trainers his passion is that of communication and instilling the culture of the places we visit to those that join in our adventures and courses. He is also one of our leading Irish guides with special knowledge in the Cork and Kerry hills and mountains.
He is a father of four; Sean, Damien, Sara and Timothy. From a very early age, to instill adventure to his children, he became involved, with his wife Mary, as a leading light in Scouting Ireland. He has volunteererd for over twenty years to promote the adventurous spirit in children.
He is a County Commissioner for Cork south and heavily involved in training new leaders and delivering Mountain Skills Training to all leaders and scouts. Tony is a good story teller, has a passion for the outdoors, enjoys good food and after a hard day on the hills a few pints in a good atmosphere. Tony is also a manager/trainer in our Health, Safety and team-building Corporate division
Let us introduce you to Tony in a short video
Trip: Mt. Elbrus, Caucasus range, Russia, Highest Mountain in Europe
Altitude: 5642m a continental High Point and 7 summit challenge
Route: Adylsu Valley - Priut Hut - Summit - Terskol
Dates: June & August
Duration: 13/14 Days total
Grade:Trekking – Strenuous,
Prices: €2,250 Land Only
Flight: From €880- Ireland-Moscow-Mineral Ni Vody Central Caucasus & return.
A superb climb, and suitable for a beginner moving on from trekking the likes of Kilimanjaro into climbing and moving on snow and ice. It brings you to a volitile region of Russia, just miles from the border with Georgia, in the central Caucasus and to the peaceful region of Kabardino-Balkaria were we climb Europe’s highest mountain.
The Caucasus Mountains stretch for 550 miles (880Kms), from the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea. They form the physical barrier dividing Europe and Asia, and the whole range lies entirely within the former Soviet Union. This region is home to 50 different Ethnic groups who all seek independence and recognition for their customs, beliefs and their freedom from repressive regimes.
This area is one of the most interesting places on earth and this expedition gives us a chance to explore the wonders of this otherwise war-torn region by visiting the peaceful region of Kabardino-Balkaria, which is situated in the Central Caucasus and is our destination for our attempt on Mt. Elbrus.
The highest and most glaciated part of the Caucasus is the central region, where Mount Elbrus stands, the highest mountain in Europe. Elbrus is a popular mountain, being a straightforward glacier climb. The main hazards are the high altitude (which we prepare for as fully as possible, with training climbs and walks in the Baksan valley), and poor weather, for which we have built in a few spare days to give more flexibility.
Climbers will need to be familiar with the use of crampons and ice axes, although ski poles will generally used. We have scheduled in to our itinerary specific acclimatisation days to allow our bodies to adjust accordingly for our summit attempt. We have designed a course, Snow and Ice Skills, specifically for those travelling to a region and landscape like that found on Mount Elbrus. We recommend you complete this prior to travelling with us.
Our expedition begins in Moscow. We only have a very brief stop off here before catching our flight to Mineral Nye Vody and then on to our base, Terskol which is situated in the Balksen valley. Before our attempt on Elbrus, we spend a few days in the spectacular valleys surrounding Elbrus, acclimatising, training, resting and looking for a break in the weather. Mount Elbrus is notorius for storms!
Undoubtedly, the best known and most alluring mountain in Russia, and the largest in Europe, Mount Elbrus is a dormant volcano, one of the 'Seven Summits'. The fact that it is the highest in Europe suffices for many to go and climb it.
Elbrus belongs to a handful of mountains with a very special and irresistible kind of beauty which lies in their shape and setting. It stands 11km north from the main range and exceeds its neighbours in height by 1200-2000m. The views from both summits are breathtaking: to the north is a rolling carpet of pastures and all other sides there is a sea of snowy peaks.
The Elbrus Region/ Prielbrusie- Located in the Central Caucasus, the highest part of the entire mountain range is an area where many valleys converge into the Baksan Valley. It's glaciers give rise to the Baksan, Kuban and Malkan Rivers. In this region we will see many famous peaks such as Mt.Shkhelda (4,320m), Mt. Chatin (4,369m), Mt. Ushba (4,710) and Mt. Elbrus itself (5,642m).
Mount Elbrus dominates the Central Caucasus and has two seperate volcano vents: the western peak, Zapadnaya 5,642m, is the higher peak and the eastern peak, Vostochnaya, at 5,621m. The eastern peak has a crater 250m in diameter. The mountain is covered in a huge sheet of ice which covers some 145 square km's and is up to 400m thick. Often horrific weather surrounds the mountain and it is notorius for storms. From the col that divides the two peaks the snow slopes descend to the many tongues of ice and crevasses lying in the valleys.
The ancients knew the mountain as Strobilus , Latin for ' pine cone', a direct loan from the ancient Greek Strobilos, meaning ' a twisted object' - a long established botanical term that describes the shape of the volcano's summit. A myth that is held here claims Zues had chained Prometheus, the Titan who had stolen fire from the Gods and given it to ancient man- likely a reference to historic volcanic activity.
By the normal route it is a long climb over a medium incline that requires good acclimatisation, but has no real technical difficulty. The simplicity of this climb is not to be under estimated, it is a dangerous route. Apart from the altitude, the highly variable weather and frequent violent storms combined with low temperatures, as low as -25 degrees, means that this ascent is a real high altitude adventure!
The average time to summit is approx. 9 hours and approx. 4 hours for descent. Crampons and ski poles are necessary for this climb and ice axes are useful for extra safety. Like all big mountains, the peaks of the Caucasus generate and attract their own weather, making conditions unpredictable and ferocious at times. To be prepared for a wide range of temperatures it is imporatant to bring everything on the recommended equipment list.
This trek is suitable to those moving on from high altitude peaks like Kilimanjaro and wishing to start progressing to mountains which require additional skills such as moving on snow and ice. A good level of fitness is required prior to departure. A good level of fitness is required for this climb and if you have not been training prior to this climb you will lower your chances of a successful summit. It is a demanding trek and includes an average of 6 hrs walking per day, with exception to summit night which is between 12 and 15hrs.This is a technical climb and is very steep in places. For many people it will be a very hard physical challenge. We strongly recommend that you seek advice on fitness from a professional instructor.
Prices & Inclusions:
Land Only €2250
All inclusive €3,130
Fully escorted with experienced guides and on site training
Accommodation while trekking
Meals on route
Tips, bar bills, laundry, room service etc.
Extra baggage costs
Personal gear - Medication
Optional Extras Moscow City Guided Tour - 1 Day - Extra night B&B - Please contact us for more details on Moscow City Tour
Day 1: Dublin- Moscow-overnight flight
Day 2: Moscow - Mineralnye Vody - Tereskol, night hotel or similiar
Day 3: Hike to Cheget, 3,600m- Night at hotel
Day 4: Hike to Observatory- Night at hotel
Day 5: Hike to Adysul Valley
Day 6: Cable car to Mir station, Hike to Barrel, Night at the Barrels.
Day 7: Hike to Priut hut or higher- Night at the Barrels
Day 8: Technical Training/weather/acclimatisation day
Day 9: Technical Training/weather/acclimatisation day
Day 10: Summit Attempt- last potential summit night -Night at Priut Hut
Day 11: Descend to Terskol Night at hotel
Day 12: Tereskol - MRV- Moscow Night at Hotel
Day 13: Moscow- Dublin-Arrive home/ unless you have opted for the Moscow City Tour Extension
Day 14: Moscow free day, B&B
Day 15: Moscow - Ireland
Day 16: Arrive Ireland
Full refund applies if cancellation is received and acknowledged more than 20 weeks prior to event.
Desposits will not be refunded for cancellations received within 20 weeks.
For bookings made where flights have to be paid for in advance, the flight cost is non- refundable once paid.
Climbing Mount Elbrus is, among other things, a big personal and team achievement. Therefore, it needs to be enjoyed as much as possible, and to do it, it is necessary to bear in mind some recommendations when starting to prepare for your ascent. Your experience will depend on your training. The chances of summiting successfully are greater when you train specifically for the challenge ahead. We have designed a number of courses and walks to help you achieve your goal.
Recommended Training Program
Your daily routine must include some exercising that will contribute to achieve fitness. As nowadays most of us have many obligations, sometimes it is hard to find the time to train everyday. When you have a goal such as to summit Elbrus, the challenge is worth it and all the effort may become a pleasure, which is another goal in itself.
Although hillwalking is best and specific to the challenge, please remember any type of cardiovascular training will help you prepare for this expedition. Focus your training on building endurance by completing long, slow and low - mid intensity training session along with a few fast and short sessions to build up your anaerobic capacity. Build the distance and duration of your training sessions slowly as over training often leads to injury. Contact us for more information regarding our training courses to help you be in the best shape possible.
Meet & Greet
Our Pre-expedition meetings are designed as part of the preparation process. All team members are invited to partake; it is a good idea to have these meetings once you have made up your mind to take on an expedition. The meetings include a thorough briefing on all aspects of the trip and provide an ideal opportunity to clear up any final questions you may have. We may include this in our skills course. *A date will be confirmed for meet with your Tour Leader once you have signed up.
For your application you will need a full valid passport - please ensure your passport is valid for 6 months after we return home.
For your Visa application:
4 passport photos-signed on reverse side.
Tourist Voucher - available from us upon request.
Travel Insurance Certificate.
Applications are made by post to your nearest Russian Embassy
For more info please contact us
Light weight long underwear - Tops & Bottoms
Expedition weight long underwear - Tops & Bottoms
Briefs - For everyday wear while trekking
Short Sleeved T-Shirts/Shirts - 2 x trekking
Long Sleeved T-Shirts/Shirt - 2 x trekking
Softshell/Fleece x 2
Trekking Pants x 2/3 - one insulated pants is recommended
Parka Jacket - Down or synthetic with hood- Expedition Type and needs to fit over all insulation layers (it can get as cold as -25 degrees celsius)
Jacket - Waterproof & breatheable- storm proof mountaineering jacket
Over Trousers - Waterproof & breatheable- storm proof mountaineering pants
Foot and Hand wear:
Shoes for travel and easy walking
Lightweight Hiking Boots
Climbing Boots - Plastic double boot-available for hire
Gaitors - short simple gaitors are best
Booties - optional luxury, down/synthetic
Lightweight socks - 2/3 pairs
Warm trekking socks - 2/3 pairs
Head & Hand Wear
Windstopper fleece gloves
Sunglasses x 2 - Specific to High Altitude Mountaineering, UV & IR protection
Ice Axe - Available for hire
Crampons - Available for hire
Ski Poles - 1 pair collapsible spring bound ski poles
Harness - lightweight web waist with all leg loops opening
Carabiners- 2 x screw gates, 2 x snapgates
Backpack - at least 75 litre with ice axe haul loops and crampon attachment point
Daypack - 25 - 35 litre
Waterproof pack cover
Sleeping Bag - Expedition quality to at least -25, down preferred and must pack small
Sleeping Mat - Thermorest preferred for extra warmth
Pocket-Knife - leatherman or similar
Water Bottles - 1/ 2
Pee Bottle/Funnel for women
Large Duffel Bag
Travel clothes for days in we are in transit
Padlocks for bags while in transport
Travel Insurance Certificate
Passport, Visa and copies of all travel and insurance documents
Money in US Dollars/Euros
Sun Block - important
Towel and wash kit
Spare batteries for all electronic equipment
Medical & Personal Needs
Personal First Aid Kit
Personal Medication - seek advice from your doctor
Water Purification Tablets
Our team are in Terskol awaiting their flight to Moscow later today. Pat was talking to Katy and all is fine with no sign of any military or trouble to worry about. Our Russian guides are informing us not to worry as its quite a distance away. The team are in great form and enjoying their down time at the moment. Katy was having a swim the last time we talked before today, Monday.
The following is a condensed translation of the story on the Russian site.
The author is one of the survivors Sergei Bogomolov. I've chosen to omit some of his meaningless sentences. Natasha Ter Gazaryan, our Moscow representative.
Extracts translated from interview with surviving Russian climber on Russian web site.
“We had put ourselves a deadline the 13th of August. We had run out of food by this time. The 13th of August morning was the first fine morning for the last two weeks and we thought that a benign beginning for the summit day, the K2's special gift for our perseverance.
The icefall or the avalanche happened as soon as we where out of the Bottleneck, no more than two hours away from the summit. That seemed to be a huge bulk of ice and frozen snow 120 by 80m in size. It was falling down at breathtaking speed and swept four climbers that were in the middle of our group to their death. We heard no noise so characteristic of an avalanche. That happened in silence. Nobody
heard or seen where that bulk of ice had come from. We tried to find out what happened to our friends, but all in vain.
All of us were hit to some extent with the falling ice. Two Russian climbers in front and me, the polish guy and Banjo who were keeping the rear were not hit much” Sergei Bogomolov Russian Climber K2
We’d like to thank Natasha for her translation and posting it to us.
Telephone information from Serguey Bogomolov to Russian climb web site.
August 12th reported all team at Camp 4 had decided to call it a day and descend to Base Camp. There was no visibility and the snow conditions where deep. As the day progressed the weather cleared and the summit seemed close so everyone changed their minds to go-for-it. So the summit attempt began on August 13th.
“The first party was Kulbachenko - Gaponov. The second who ascended, were Foigt, Kuznetsov, Uteshev and Kuvakin. The last party was Bogomolov - Bannon - Teler.
The avalanche caught the first and the second parties. Kulbachenko and Gaponov had dug out from the snow and tried to find others. The third party joined them. There're steep slopes below that place, and avalanche fell there. Serguey Bogomolov didn't see how the avalanche struck. Climbers couldn't find their partners. In addition, there was a danger of next avalanche, so they decided to descend. Tomorrow the expedition will leave the BC.” Reported Serguey Bogomolov from Base Camp.
For the best in Irish mountaineering news and comments www.patfalvey.com.
Sadly Russian climb announces the names of the K2 Kuzbass 2006 expedition who have been missing since August 13th. Hopes are now fading that there will be any further survivors will be rescued.
The names are, expedition leader Yuri Uteshev, the coach Alexander Foigt, Piotr Kuznetsov and Arcady Kuvakin. May they rest in peace and our thoughts and sympathy go to their families and friends. These have been the names confirmed by Serguev Bogomolov on a call from base camp K2.