/ Climbing in the Caucasus - Georgia
3 of us are going to the Svaneti area of Georgia next month, planning to climb some easier peaks, as well as some trekking. Travelling initially to Mestia, where we'll stay overnight before going up into the mountains. We'll be taking limited climbing gear, OK for routes around PD standard. Our previous experience in the Swiss Alps is up to AD / AD+.
Struggling to find any information on routes, so any pointers to sources of information, or recommendations on peaks / routes, would ve very welcome.
Hi Malcolm, PM if you want some route suggestions/info. Alexclimb.com has some route descriptions but most are technical (many of the routes are on the Russian side of the border). A lot of routes will depend on what sort of gear you are bringing (ice rack etc), you will need to bring it all or pick stuff up in Tbilisi. There is no gear available in Mestia. Let me know and I can recommend some routes.
I did Kasbek in 2015 by the normal route which is a glacier crossing followed by some Scottish 1 snow. Info is hard to get but there were plenty of people in the area who helped. We used Georgia (Caucasus) 1:400,000 Adventure Map & Svaneti, Kazbek, laminated, GPS-compatible (its on Amazon).
The whole country feels very safe and friendly. We did a peak opposite Kazbek which was ridge at about scottish 2 I left my map there so I can't remember the name. It was a case of look at a line and go for it.
Good luck its an ace place. Loads of Poles, Iranians and Indians climbing there feels very different from the alps.
Just checked I think Kazbek is some way from Mestia, we did go there too but did not get anything done.
Kazbek is a good option, the SE face is more interesting than the normal route. It's at least 2 days' travel from Mestia though. For a PD route, Layla is a good option from Mestia. Tetnuld is a harder option, I think AD+. There are maps available in Geoland store in Tbilisi, but only 1:50,000 scale so you are best off downloading a decent map app.
We tried Tetnuld at the end of the trip, its pretty tricky and I thought we were out of our depth we never summited, beautiful area though.
Do you know what route and what grade would you give it? What were the difficulties?
We were attempting the standard ridge which goes right to left as we look as the main face. We got shut down on the glacier crossing, huge bergshrund and massive crevices made progress very slow going . We'd already down 2 big peaks by that point and I'd had enough.
There was a nuts guy from Poland happily walking around unroped.
if you are flying into Tbilisi how are you getting into the mountains? be careful of the south Ossentian borders, it would probably invalidate your insurance if anything happen whilst there. The FCO take a firm stand on advice against all travel to that region. Probably just as easy to fly into Batumi though? Also be very careful of getting too near the border, there are army bases everywhere and you are not made welcome if you even step foot over the border, even on Kazbek for example.
That said, georgia is beautiful and the people are nice, the language is impossible to listen to or read! The food is amazing and the wine is even better!
Hi Lawrence, many thanks for your reply. Good to know what you thought of Kazbek. We thought of that as an option if we want to move on from Svaneti, though it sounds like its a lot busier. We've got a couple of maps from Stanfords, and will see what else might be available in Mestia.
Thanks, good to know the Alpine grade you reckon for Tetnuld. Sound like that would be pushing it for us, unless we get a guide, especially with the altitude.
Hi Kerry, many thanks for the warning. we've been told we need to get a permit locally, when we arrive, if we're going within 5 or 10km (I can't recall which) of any border. We're flying in to Tbilisi, train to Zugdidi, then bus to Mestia.
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