UKH

Ice climbing republic of Georgia

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 topee 20 Nov 2022

Hi folks. Looking for winter destinations, has anyone ice climbed in Georgia? Looking for info. Ideally routes need to be easily accessible. Any info appreciated. Possibly heading out Jan/Feb23.

thanks.

 Kalna_kaza 20 Nov 2022
In reply to topee:

I've not been in winter but spent a few weeks in and around Mestia a few years ago. 

There is considerable snowfall which cuts off some of the villages (Ushgulli is often snow bound for 4-6 months). There are some small ski areas with chair lifts but I suspect there's not much scope for nearby ice as they are mainly located on the more gentle grassy mountain sides. 

Nearby Mazeri is much quieter than Mestia but has one of the best valleys for waterfalls. It's a couple of hours walk from the village to the main waterfalls but there are farmers tracks which many locals will happily drive up. We visited several glaciers and other mountain paths, the guest house owner's cousin (or something) was happy to be a taxi driver for about £20 all day, it really cut out some of the valleys approaches. 

Bus timetables from the towns to the cities are more guidance than a fixed schedule. £1-2/hour of travelling is fairly normal. Although there are large coaches access to the smaller towns is normally on minibuses. If the bus is full, they often stick a plastic stool in the foot well as an extra seat. Everything is very cheap, including the amazing Georgian wine. It was largely a cash based economy outside of the big cities. It's hard to get Georgian Lari outside of the country so use the ATM at the airport, euros are accepted in some places but at very poor rates. Booking.com was useful and normally had "cash on arrival" as the payment method. 

It's a fascinating country and well worth visiting.

OP topee 20 Nov 2022
In reply to Kalna_kaza:

Thanks Kalna

In reply to topee:

Hi. Probably not much help but check out Gveleti Waterfall near Stepantsminda. That freezes up and is climbed from what I can see. There’s also some guides there that will take you for a day out etc. Stepantsminda is the town you go to for trips to Mt Kazbek. Never been but been researching it for a possible trip myself as I live a short flight away.

Let us know how it goes 👍

OP topee 21 Nov 2022
In reply to thegrowler1981:

Thanks Growler. Not finding a huge amount, have a friend who has just moved there and is going to do some digging. He is not a climber. Let me know if you get any results in your research, I’ll let you know if I get any positives. I usually look at about a weeks stay. Due to age and decreptatude  routes need to easably accessible.

Best of luck.

Geoff

 JStearn 22 Nov 2022
In reply to topee:

The two popular spots I know of are Gveleti near Stepantsminda, and Biisi. Both are about 2-3 hours from Tbilisi but for Biisi you really need your own car. Gveleti is 20 minutes from the road, most people top rope here with 2x60m. In Svaneti there are loads of waterfalls that are probably good in winter but I've never heard of much ice climbing being done there and the approaches would be very long. If you are flexible, I would check out north eastern Turkey, the icefalls in these posts look better/more accessible than anything I've come across in Georgia:

https://grivel.com/blogs/grivel-stories/ice-climbing-and-exploration-in-turkey-by-tunc-findik

https://steelinside.com/ice-in-turkey-2020/

Post edited at 12:48
OP topee 22 Nov 2022
In reply to JStearn:

thanks Steam, more food for thought, hadn’t even considered Turkey in winter.

OP topee 22 Nov 2022
In reply to JStearn:

is there a festival in 2023?

In reply to topee:

I'd be really surprised if there were not some nice unclimbed ice falls dotted around Georgia. I spent a few years next door in Armenia and spotted and climbed a few lines, including a lovely three-tiered fall in the south side of the Azat gorge near Geghard Monastry. Prime time in Armenia was the narrow window of the few early spring weeks when the minor roads out into the remote canyons and high villages were cleared of snow but the higher ice was still fat and complete in the gullies and shaded north facing crags.        

OP topee 23 Nov 2022
In reply to oscaigike wise Oscaig, but not huge amounts coming back, might end up back in the Alps yet.

OP topee 23 Nov 2022
In reply to oscaig:

Hi Oscaig.

Like you also think there must be plenty of opportunities, just not finding them yet!


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