Road to the top of the Georgian five thousandth
Kazbeg is the seventh highest mountain in the Caucasus at 5033 m. Like Elbrus, it is a volcano. The last documented eruption took place around 750 BC, which is geologically recent. The reverberations of volcanic activity are still evident here. According to the Greek legend, Diem, Titan Prometheus, was chained to the rock of this mountain for stealing fire from the gods for mankind. The punishment was all the more refined because every day the eagle plucked out his liver, which was growing back on him. So apparently, no quiet place ..
The ascent to the top of Kazbeg was the number one destination on our autumn trip to Georgia. That's why we also changed our plan in a flash when we woke up in the morning at the other end of Georgia and saw the updated weather forecast. For the part of the Caucasus around the mountain, it promised clear for the next three days. So we started our borrowed Outlander and instead of going to the rock town of Vardzia, we set off on a 300 km long journey northeast to the Russian border. With many stops for food, wine and photography, we happily arrived in the evening in the town of Kazbegi, otherwise also Stepancminda. Above us, a snow-covered cone of a volcano lit by the setting sun protrudes from the clouds, and we debate in a wooden house of an information center built here by the Czech People in Need with sympathetic Poles. We discuss the pitfalls of the journey and solve the question of whether with a guide or without. Apparently we will do it ourselves due to the weather. In the rental we take seats, carabiners, helmets and rope. We have our cats and wands. Otherwise, you can rent virtually everything, including sleeping bags and shoes. It's time to have dinner and go to bed. As part of our spontaneous boycott of booking.com, airbnb and other achievements of the time, which we inadvertently decided in Georgia, I ask a smoking guy on the dark street of the village of Gergeti if you could sleep somewhere. The answer is yes, we are negotiating the price and we are introduced to a mountain household with two pleasant guest rooms and an even more pleasant hostess. We get a great dinner and we talk and drink vodka with her father-in-law until night.
View from Kazbegi to the top, which is still lost in the clouds
Day one - Ascent to the Bethlehem hut
In the morning we leave Gergeti by car to the church of Cminda Sameba (Holy Trinity) at an altitude of 2150 m. Most tourists go here by field taxis. They enjoy views of the mountain and the complex of Georgian-Orthodox churches on a small plateau. We also love ourselves for a while, we escape a dog that looks like he has rabies, we take a photo with donkeys and then we quickly go out. The path climbs mountain meadows with beautiful views. She is quite busy, a lot of people want to walk at least to the first saddle or to the front of the glacier. The terrain is gradually turning rocky. After 2.5 hours of walking, we reach the glacier at an altitude of 3,250 m. We put on cats. Until now, the path to orientation has been very easy. But it's worse here on the glacier. Mapy.cz helps a bit, but it is best to follow the droppings. The cottage is supplied with donkeys, mules and horses. They instinctively choose a safe path and, most importantly, leave quite a few footprints on the glacier in the form of donuts. After another two hours of the „pa kakáškam“ journey, we arrive at the Bethlehem hut.
Rest in the saddle under the glacier
You don't have to wade streams
The front of the Gergeti Glacier
Base Camp - the building of the former weather station
The building of the former weather station – now Bethlehem Hut according to the nearby cave, where, according to legend, the cribs from Bethlehem in which Jesus was born were stored. The cottage is a massive stone building with many small rooms. He sleeps here on bunk beds for six. No water is introduced here. The toilet is a shed with a hole in the floor 100 m from the building. There's nothing to buy here, you just have to pay 40 Lari per person per night, during which mice run around your head and fox melusine through the cracks under the window. On the other hand, you are guaranteed a view of the mountains and you can make your own meals on your own stove in the kitchen – common room. Another option is to sleep on a salary at the cottage for a fee of 10 Lari. We have dinner from our own stock and go to bed early. We'll get up around two o'clock
The building of the former weather station
altitude of 3,700 m, it is not exactly comfortable, but it is an ideal starting point for an attack on the top of Kazbeg
Room for 6
6 people sleep here without any problems, ie if they take earplugs and eye flaps ..
Conquest of the top
We actually get up at two in the morning after six hours of rolling on a bunk bed. We brew warm tea and flakes and at three we set off together with two Czechs in their fifties, Jirka and Milan. We met them after arriving at the cottage. They have already traveled the rubble up around the glacier from yesterday, when they managed to take an acclimatization trip. This makes the procedure much easier for us in the dark with headlights. We have a rope again that can be thrown higher when we all want to tie up. We gradually precede all the groups that came out before us. I put cats on the glacier. With increasing height, it becomes more and more cold. Orientation on the glacier is easy this time. It's a meeting up and through Russia – the road really leads about a kilometer through the territory of the Russian Federation, but you don't have to worry about customs officers here, but there are wonderful views of the highest mountain in the Caucasus, Elbrus. But the boys are running away from us. Acclimatization is known. We're going pretty hard. It is a terrible winter, around 15 degrees below zero, it blows and the slope has a slope of about 40 degrees. We always stop and rest after about 10 minutes. But it goes up relatively fast anyway. Somehow there is no suitable opportunity to be tied to the rope. The ascent in cats is quite safe. The surface is not icy and even a fall would not mean an uncontrollable downhill. This is not to say that this must always be the case. It is not advisable to underestimate the equipment here, many people have already paid for their lightness with their lives. In addition to cats, it is also useful to have ski goggles. It protects the eyes from volcanic dust that drives the wind from the bare parts of the mountain. At half past nine we are at the top of the Great Kazbeg – 5033 m. The boys managed to do it in 15 min. previously. It is clear and beautiful visibility. We are enjoying it. Joy!!
the last few corks to the top of the Great Kazbeg – 5033 m. At the back in the middle snowy Elbrus – the highest mountain in Europe
Still the next day
We make it as easy as possible. When the slope is not so steep, we take off the cats, slide a little, then pull out plastic waste bags and run down like little boys. It's easier on the straight part of the glacier. We avoid cracks. But the descent of the rubble is not easy. To our left you can see and hear the mountain falling apart. Without a break, I break off boulders high above us and fly down the slope with great speed, ending in a depression not far from us. The glacier is cracking. Everything is in motion. Michal jumped to the toilet in the side moraine of the glacier. When he returned that morning, a natural rock covered his natural toilet. If nature had decided to „flush“ a moment earlier, the whole expedition could have turned out completely differently. There is simply no peace here, even though Kazbeg is no longer awake and Herakés has long since liberated Prometheus and the eagle.
Descent down a steep slope
Somewhere on the border of Russia and Georgia, let's take out plastic garbage bags and eat!
The mountain is respectful
On the south side, huge boulders are constantly being released and flying into the valley
The glacier is still moving
Still the next day
Around four o'clock we arrive back at the cottage. The weather is still beautiful. Michal decided to continue giving down to Gergeti. He wouldn't give it up tomorrow. According to the plan, I stay in the cottage for another night, which we paid for in advance. I have a headache, I'm cold and I'm not sleeping. At least I made tea from the ingredients we found in the shared kitchen. I also peeled the climbing chicken corm in the bag I had left. My partner accidentally took the other food down, including the cooker, downstairs. I go to sleep.
View from Betlemi hut
Caucasus, Georgian flag and stone toilet
Descent into civilization
I'll get out of my sleeping bag at half past six in the morning. This time I'm alone in the room. I'm still not feeling well. I make tea in the kitchen, steal bread and a piece of salami from someone. Hunger is a pig. Maybe he'll forgive me. I'm leaving after seven. Along the way, I gradually collect two Slovenians and an American woman, with whom I talked yesterday at a modest dinner. We meet Jirka and Milan, who slept in a tent on a beautiful grassy meadow under a glacier. Also two other Czechs, who were also at the top yesterday. They said they didn't leave until half past eight. They didn't have such a winter and, thanks to the great weather, not even the clouds that usually form around the peak in the afternoon. Fortunately, they weren't even covered by an avalanche, which sometimes comes with warming in the afternoon. We arrive at the church of Cminda Sameb, where we meet Michal again, at half past ten. The cloudless Kazbeg bathes in the sunlight. From below, it looks like it was all just a relaxing, pleasant walk ..
The blue sky and snow on the mountain tops inspire artists of all genres. What looks like a kadibudka on the right is actually a teleport to the top .. :)
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