Did You Know?
Fast facts about the Caucasus and Mount Kazbek …
- The Caucasus is made up of Georgia, Turkey, Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan and Armenia las well as a bevy of smaller republics and breakaway regions) and has a character entirely of its own – neither quite Asian nor traditionally European. For the unfamiliar traveler it’s a new and exciting world.
- At 5,047m Kazbek is the third highest mountain in Georgia and the seventh highest in the Caucasus.
- Georgian folklore has it that the hero Amirani was chained to Kazbek as punishment for introducing metalworking to humanity, in clear defiance of the God’s wishes. The story mimics the Greek tale of Prometheus in many other ways, too.
Let’s Go – Georgia
Get There. There are no direct flights to Georgia, but you can pick up budget flights to the capital Tbilisi connecting in Istanbul, Warsaw, Riga, Amsterdam and other locations. Stopover times vary so the total travel time could be anything from eight to 18 hours.
Stay There. There are hotels in Stepantsminda, but the best choice is a local B&B or homestay… which vary dramatically in quality, so exercise caution. We had a very positive experience with the Red Stone Guest House which gave an exceptionally friendly welcome and offered a seemingly-limitless (and very tasty) breakfast of homemade cheese, meat dumplings, eggs, bread and preserves. There is a tourist information centre just south of the town’s main square, which can help find you accommodation if you don’t pre-book.
What to Take. Full mountaineering gear for altitudes up to and above 5,000m, including warm layers, high quality outer shells, crampons, a single ice axe, a geodesic tent and winter sleeping bag if you intend to camp, and a rope and harnesses if you intend to climb without a guide. This should be treated as a mountaineering expedition, which it is. However, as the technical parts of the route are only mildly technical (in the right conditions) I would recommend crampon-compatible boots that you can also comfortably use on grass, path and softer terrain – you’re going to be ascending around 2,000m of it before you get to the snow and ice!
When to Go. Much like non-winter mountaineering in the rest of the northern hemisphere, the summer months of late June to early September are the best time to approach Mount Kazbek.
Weather Forecast. The weather on Kazbek is notoriously changeable and potentially hazardous – the cost of being a tall and free-standing mountain. Because of this, and the lack of alpine-level infrastructure (and phone signal) in Georgia, you’ll struggle to find a consistent forecast..