by Geir Mjosund 21/05/2015
The Caucasus mountain range is for many an unknown chapter. And if they have heard of this mountain range that stretches from the Black Sea in the west to the Caspian Sea in the east it is probably because they associate it with Europe’s highest mountain Elbrus. However, what many do not know is that the Caucasus is not only located in Russia, but extends through Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia.
Kazbek is a dormant stratovolcano and one of the largest mountains in the Caucasus. The mountain lies on the border between Georgia and Russia, and looms over the town Stepantsminda near the border with North Ossetia. It is the third largest mountain in Georgia (after Shkhara and Dzhangi-Tau) and the seventh highest peak and the most beautiful mountain in the Caucasus Mountains with an altitude of 5033m.
Suggested Route – the North Face
If you drive to the town of Stepantsminda, which is situated at 1,700 meters, then you can walk through alpine meadows along a moraine (glacier debris) to the Gergeti Glacier at 2950 meters. You will pass hot sulphur springs on your way to the first camp site, a sign that this region is still volcanically active. It is perhaps advisable to spend a day acclimatising at this point, depending on how experienced a climber you are. When you are ready to climb, start the ascent at the Maili Plateau at 4500 meters. Above the plateau up to the saddle you will need to put on crampons to climb through the ice and snow. Once at the summit, 5047 meters, you will be rewarded with stunning views out over the Caucasian Mountain Range.
The climbing season is from mid-June to late September and it is advised that you are in a good physical condition before attempting this climb. The route described, ascending the north face, is relatively easy, but this is a serious mountain and the overall grading is 2. Experience of using ice axes and crampons is advised. It would also be wise to leave the eastern face to the experts as this climb is difficult.
Mount Kazbek, the Mont Blanc of the Caucasus, is climbed each year by only 100 to 150 people. It is advisable to contact the Georgian State Mountaineering Guide Training School in Kazbegi who will be able to advise you of conditions and will also be aware that you are making the ascent in case of any problems.
MtXplore plan to make an summits attempt the 14th or the 15th of July 2015 if the weather allows it.
Climbing – a dangerous event . You can get in an avalanche or rockfall , fall into an ice crack or die from altitude sickness . You should be aware of health risks and assess their strength and level of training. Each participant climbing own decision about participation in the program and is responsible for their actions (or inaction) . A route changes are possible (depending on the weather, and our group you wish ) . To participate in the ascent of Kazbek required : Experience in trekking and absence of medical contraindications. Mount Kazbek is not difficult, but you do have around 5-10 deaths on the mountain every year, so prepare and train properly for the mountain, also do bring good and correct gear.
– Heavy-weight fleece / pile jacket
– Light/medium-weight, synthetic long underwear shirt (polypropylene/capilene)
– Water proof / breathable jacket with hood (Gore Tex is strongly recommended)
– Long sleeve, light weight shirt for sun protection (preferably synthetic)
– Down or synthetic fill jacket with hood, must fit comfortably over your fleece jacket
– Fleece pants (full side zips allow ventilation)
– Thermal under wear
– Wind- waterproof and breathable pants with full length zips
– Liner socks – 2-3 pairs
– Wool or poly socks (medium-heavy thickness) – 3 pairs
– Light weight trekking boots, or strong shoes
– Climbing boots, plastic of leather – must be right for step-in crampons
– Liner gloves – 2 pairs
– Medium weight fleece gloves
– Wool or fleece mittens
– Wind-stop shell overmittens
– Wool or fleece hat
– Crampons (with a repair kit), must fit your climbing boots
– Climbing harness
– Screwgate carabiner -2
– Ice-axe, 60-70 cm (optional)
– Collapsible ski poles (a must!)
– Climbing Rope
– Personal first aid kit
– Head torch
– Water bottle
– Lip balm (spf 25+) and glacier cream (spf 40)
– Pocket knife
– Favorite snacks
– Glacier glasses with side flaps
– Extra pair of your normal glasses, or lenses
– Down or synthetic sleeping bag good for -10ºC
– Sleeping closed cell foam pad
– Rucksack (40-50liters)
– Day pack – for the summit attempt.
– 1-1.5liters thermos/hydration system/nalgene bottle
21/05/2015 / mountains / 8000ers / kazbek / mtxplore.com