GEOLOGY AND RELIEF
The Caucasus main ridge is a magnificent Alpine-type mountain chain with rocky peaks and glaciated slopes. The ridge rises almost 1000m above the permanent snow line. Most passes lie a' 2400-3000m above sea level and are crossed only by mountaineering routes. The Main Ridge is made of hard crystalline rocks - shales, gneisses and granites. Heavy glaciation has resulted in characteristic glacial sculpture, including glacial cirques and elegant pyramidal summits. From the cirques glacial tongues extend a long way down into many of the major valleys Elbrus itself is a huge volcanic cone that lies several km. off the main ridge.