Kazbek Trip Report (#21836)

  • Signed By: Jan Stolba
  • Date submitted: December 07, 2009
  • Date(s) climbed: 1985
  • Number of People Encountered:0-10 people
  • Recommend to a Friend: Highly

Kazbek is also called Mkinvartsveri in Georgian and Bashlan in Chechen language. According to Greek mythology, Prometheus was chained to its rocks as a punishment for stealing fire from the gods. There is also some dispute whether Kazbek is actually a European mountain. While some consider Caucasus range being the Europe-Asia borderline, others see the border outlined by Kuma-Manych Depression situated north of the range. But I guess Georgians, a very old Christian nation, would probably proudly consider themselves Europeans.

We started in Kazbegi. First night we spent at the incredible 14th century church Tsminda Sameba (2200m). Next day we followed Gergeti glacier up to the Meteostancia (3800m). I couldn' t figure whether it was functional or not, the chief showed us some meteorological equipment, but overall It had a rundown feel about it. Anyone was welcome to lay down on the floor in empty rooms. A stray dog followed us from the church. We tried to scare him away on the glacier so he wouldn' t end up in a crevasse. But the dog happily overtook us and to our surprise we met him again at the Meteostancia. The station guard claimed the half-wild dog has his days when he makes it even to the summit... Prometheus' incarnation?

Next day we made an acclimatization trip to up to the plateau. Following morning we got up a bit late, about 5am, and quickly started on the glacier. First we got lost in the dark among big and bulging crevasses towards the right, but after finding the path it was a smooth climb up, crampons, rope and all. Right under the summit there was a short passage a bit steeper and icy. From top, amazing view over the whole Caucasus "vodorozdelnyi" (watershed) range, white snowcap of Elbrus visible far on the horizon. Around noon snow started melting rapidly. Back down on the glacier we didn't even rope up in order to descent faster. Crevasses were clearly outlined under the snow.But looking back, we definitely should have roped up. Back in Meteostancia around 4pm. Seldom in my life I've slept like a log since 5pm till morning. Great day!

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