The peak of Mount Kazbek at 5,047m resembles a snow tumulus. When the last member of the climbing team reaches the peak, members of the group share feelings of excitement and delight.   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
  Looking due west from the peak of Kazbek a nameless 4,000m peak can be seen in the foreground and other 4,000 and 5,000m peaks of the Central Caucasus lie on the horizon. Visible to the right is the broad and narrow pyramid shaped 5,642m Mount Elbruz. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
  Tsminda Sameba Church consists of a bell tower at the entrance and a main building planned for pilgrimages. On the walls of Holy Trinity Church are beautiful carvings and designs (above). 
The solid, stone-built meteorological station provides the main camp for climbs of Kazbek. This building, situated below the south wall of Mount Kazbek, was constructed in the 1930's by convicts (below)
 
I traveled to Tiblisi, capital of Georgia, intending to write ageneral account of the Caucasus and found myself joining a group of Germans on a three-day climb to the 5,047m peak of Mount Kazbek after being put in touch with David Rakviashvili, founder of the Georgian State Mountaineering Guide Training School.

 After two days of preparations we set off for Tiblisi in a VW bus belonging to "Caucasian Travel" with two trainee guides from the school, Ghia and Gotcha. The Germans were to make their way directly from the airport to the town of Kazbegi at the foot of the mountain.

 Following the military road after Tiblisi, our route entered the deep gorge of the Aragvi river where several old churches, monasteries and medieval castles were located. As the road climbed through steep slopes of emerald pasture the tips of the highest volcanic peaks of the Caucasus appeared, some of which are still active. We took a break near a hot sulfuric spring along the 2,379m Kerestovy Pass - a clear indication of geothermal activity.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The solid, stone-built meteorological station provides the main camp for climbs of Kazbek. This building, situated below the south wall of Mount Kazbek, was constructed in the 1930's by convicts (above). 
The lower sections of Gergeti glacier are rather broad and level. The slight gradient means that these sections can be attempted without crampons. On the opposite side of the glacier rises the peak of Kazbek... (below) 
 
 
After a 4 hour journey we arrived in Kazbegi set on the slopes of a deep narrow gorge and crossed to the village of Gergeti on the opposite side to meet our guide Nick and the German mountaineers. From Kazbegi we had an awe inspiring view of the glacial pyramid of Mount Kazbek. Our guide informed us that the eastern face within our view was a very difficult climb, but the north face, the classic route, was relatively easy. We gave him the benefit of the doubt. Kazbek, first climbed in 1868 by Douglas Freshwill, is the second-most popular peak of the Caucasus (following Elbruz). Especially liked by Soviet and Georgian mountaineers, its proximity to Tiblisi and its routes of varying degrees of difficulty offer pleasures for climbers of all levels. Each year this "Matterhorn" of the Caucasus is climbed by 100-150 people.

 We lost little time in Gergeti and followed a winding path which led past Holy Trinity church. We reached this crown of the steep bank above the village after almost three hours of climbing over green ridges. We searched for a suitable place to cross the muddy, furiously flowing glacial melt to the main block of the glacier. The melting effects of August heat had caused a magnificent waterfall to issue from its tip. Kazbek massif and the meteorological station where we were to spend the night were on the other slope of the glacier - it would take a good half hour to cross.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
    In climbing Kazbek the number of crevasses begins to increase in the upper sections of Gergeti glacier. The side sections of the glacier are covered with earth or moraine. Behind it extends the ridge of the 4,360m peak of Ortsveri (far left). Seen from the met station, Gergeti glacier resembles a frozen river. The horizon is filled with the relatively low Eastern Caucasus Mountains (left)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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