Elbrus4Alpinists is a sustainable development project aiming to open the Northwest face of Mount Elbrus, the highest peak in Europe and one of the world’s “Seven Summits”, as a climbing route. In a recent podcast episode, I spoke with founder and mountaineer, Matthew C Johnson, about the Elbrus4Alpinists project and foundation.
Matt is a family man who loves intellectual challenges, adventure travel, endurance sports, and bringing together unlikely groups of people to share passions and connect humanity. In 2018, Matt became curious about alternative climbing routes on Mount Elbrus. That curiosity led him to explore the Northwest Face, a lesser-known climbing route frequented only by Russian climbers.
“I discovered that the Russian climbers in the area climbed by a route from the west side that is not normally advertised. So I took a solo trip over there to explore. I discovered it was phenomenally beautiful. The people on that side of the mountain are wonderful, albeit with very few economic opportunities…I looked at the population, I looked at the terrain and I thought why has nobody developed a climbing infrastructure here?”
Over the past three years, Matt engaged with Alpinists from all over the world including Nathaniel J. Menninger, the film director of The Porter: The Untold Story at Everest (2020), and gathered a team of passionate individuals who could help bring this project to fruition. With sustainability and cultural sensitivity at the forefront, the Elbrus4Aplinists project aims to bring economic development to the people living and working below the mountain.
“The intent of this project is to create a stable employment base for the people in the area so they can stay with their families, stay in their culture and maintain the traditions that have been there for almost 4000 years…We will provide the money and expertise to get the local businesses up and running and then once they have everything in hand we will be out of work. Our goal is to put ourselves out of work as quickly as possible so the community are successful, and independent as quickly as possible.”
In the podcast, we discuss Matthew’s vision for the project, how his passion for mountaineering and sustainable development drives the project and the steps they are taking to ensure a community-first approach.
Listen to the full episode below, and out more about how you can support the project on their website.