Georgia – Climbing Mount Kazbek (5047m)
Climb The Gentle Giant of the Caucasus
A favourite 5,000-er for many: no real technical difficulties and super-fast to climb
The tingling of your carabiners and the whispery noises in the dawn will get you in a unique mood hours before the climb.
Initially, the whiteness of snow and the guidance of your headlight will help you in the dark. After sunrise you will be fighting with the slopes of the sleeping volcano, where Prometheus spends his eternal punishment according to the ancient Greeks.
You won’t face technical difficulties but you should definitely expect physical strain. You will ascent 1,400m from the hut to reach the summit. You will be roped to your guide on the glacier, which will help you on the slippery parts of the route’s last 100m.
After reaching the top, you will have a mesmerizing view of the glaciers and slopes of the Caucasus.
When the weather is nice, you can catch a glimpse of the peaks above 5,000m, as well as of Elbrus, the top of Europe.
If you are interested not only in climbing, but also in rumbling around Georgia’s countryside, you can join the Georgian Trekking Group just after conquering Kazbek.
Further InfoWe recommend this trek if you have experience climbing Alpine peaks higher than 3500m and you are in excellent shape. You don’t need any climbing experience, but acclimatization would be beneficial. After scaling Mount Kazbek, you should spend some more days in Georgia as a cultural chill-out.
Is this trip for you?
Day 1: Arriving to Airport, travelling to the foot of Mount Kazbek
After arriving to the airport, you make your way into the Caucasus, towards Stepandsminda (or Kazbegi, as it was called earlier), the town that lies at the foot of the 5,047-meter-high Mount Kazbek, which is your destination.
You will go on pursuing this amazing view from the car until you stop to have some refreshing Turkish coffee or lemonade with tarragon (the Georgians are pretty proud of it), just below the snowcaps and by the river Terek.
Later in the evening, you make your way to the hotel just to happily sink into your soft bed. You remember, you need to sleep, because you are going to cope with 1,500m of vertical ascent the following day.
Day 2: Betlemi weather station (3,675m)
You will wake up early in the morning to get into the jeep that will take you to the famous Gergeti chapel (if the road conditions permit). From this point you will continue your journey on foot. You will have the opportunity to rent a horse, which makes your day easier. Leaving the last trees behind, you are getting higher and higher on the slope, and beyond the last grazing cows you can finally enter the high-altitude zone. By afternoon you will reach the glacier and you will cross it as well. Up there, where no plant can grow, you can rest in a colourful ex-Soviet weather station.
Day 3: Acclimatization
You will wake up in the morning whenever you want: today it is acclimatization day! Your guide will take you to the adventurous Gergeti glacier. During your journey you will visit the chapels on the glacier moraines and you can climb relatively high above the snowline.
After returning the hut, you will refill your energy supplies and you will prepare yourself to reach the peak the following day.
Day 4: Kazbek (5,047m) – Summit Climb
Long before dawn, still in the darkness, your guide wakes you up. It’s pretty early and to be honest, it’ll suck. You go and to try to have some breakfast.
The tinkling of your carabiners, these whispery noises in the dawn will get you into a unique mood as the climbing starts.
Initially, the whiteness of the snow and the guidance of your headlight will help you in the dark. After sunrise you will be fighting with the slopes of the dormant volcano, where the God Prometheus spends his eternal punishment according to the ancient Greeks. But don’t let that bother you.
You won’t face technical difficulties but you should definitely expect physical strain. You will ascend 1,400m from the hut to reach the summit. You’re roped with your guide on the glacier, which is extra help on the steep parts of the route’s last 100m.
After reaching the top, you get a mesmerizing view of the glaciers and slopes of the Caucasus.
When the weather is nice, you can catch a glimpse of peaks higher than 5,000m, like Elbrus, the top of Europe.
After taking pictures, you get ready to return. You start your descent back to the hut, where you spend the night.
Day 5: Spare-day – in case of bad weather
This day is a spare-day in case of bad weather, or in case of slower acclimatization. If your summit was successful, you can descend back to the village.
Day 6: Descendt to Kazbegi
On this day you will definitely need to leave the glaciers’ world, returning to the colourful Georgian village, Kazbegi. After enjoying a warm shower, you will surely dive deeper in cosmos of Georgian cuisine and drinks in the bar nearby. You get to take it easy – spend the night in the village.
Day 7: Flying home
You say farewell to your team and travel back to the airport of your choice with the colorful memories and unforgettable experience you gathered in this few days.
Equipment and Info
Georgia is one of the three countries situated in the South Caucasus. It is bordering Azerbaijan, Armenia, Russia and Turkey.
Despite its small area, the climate and the landscape are quite diverse – within an hour-long drive you can cross a stone-desert, a high-altitude pine-forest and a highland. Mount Kazbek is a dormant volcano, which stands at 5,047m above sea level. It is Georgia’s third, the Caucasus’ seventh highest mountain. Mount Kazbek, situated on the border of Russia and Georgia, is accessible via a military road that goes across the Caucasus.
We spend the first few days in high-altitude environment; therefore, the weather is unsteady. During the warmest days in August and September, we should expect clouds, rain and wind. It is more difficult to forecast the weather above 3,000-3,500m. It can snow in any moment, and it can be horribly cold as well.
You can expect +10-18 degrees at 2,500m, -5-+5 degrees at 3,500m and -10-15 degrees around the peak. If the sun is shining, you will feel warmer and you won’t freeze in a thinner coat, but if the wind is blowing, you can feel the temperature as cold or colder than -15.
Those who would like to climb Kazbek will have to wake up early and participate in day-long hike and climb. Although there is no need for technical preparation or climbing experience, it is physically demanding due to the large elevation and distance.
You will spend the first night above 3,000m, which is why proper acclimatization is recommended, in that way high-altitude sickness or mountain sickness is avoidable.
We suggest trip for you if you have been above 4,000m already or if you have reached several peaks above 3,000m without any problem.
Kazbek is basically a trekking-peak; therefore, climbing equipment is not needed. A good trekking boot, crampons, sleeping bag and warm clothing are highly recommended. We will provide crampons for you, of course. Tent is not necessary because you will spend the nights in huts.
- Boots: waterproof, snowproof, it should be well-insulated, it could be very cold especially on peak-days. It could be even -15-20 degrees.
- Wind- and waterproof pants and coat: Nothing special, just stuff you can buy in any outdoor store.
- Softshell trekking pants
- Underclothing: for upper- and lower body, 2 warm polar/softshell sweaters, and a thin down jacket could be useful
- Cap and warm gloves: one pair of thinner, one pair of thicker)
- Trekking socks
- Thin scarf/mask against strong wind
- Trekking poles
- Suncream with SPF of 30 or more, sunglasses
- 3-season sleeping bag: warmer, there is NO HEATING in the hut
- Gas stove: one per two people is enough, you can buy gas bottles at the airport/Tbilisi
- Cooking pots
If you want more information on proper equipment, here’s a detailed guide about the three layers, with specific tips on what to bring (or purchase if you still don’t have them).
You spend the nights in a clean and comfortable hotel. Warm water, shower and Internet is available.
Betlemi hut will be your shelter on the mountain. There is no heating, nor water. If the aggregator is on, there will be light and electricity at night. There are only bunks in the rooms, so a sleeping bag is necessary! Although the hut has a crew, there’s no catering.
Besides the Georgian hospitality, the cuisine is also unforgettable. Among the countries of the former Soviet Union (and beyond), Georgia is equal to its fabulous tastes, juicy fruits, unique spices and cheese; furthermore, a wide variety of meat dishes.
Based on archeological evidence, the first known winery may have operated nearby, of which the local folks are very proud.
There is no food on the mountain, thus you need to take food with you. You can rent stumpers in the village to bring your stuff up. Bring at least 1,5L bottle, chocolate bars, muesli bars, bread, sausage and bacon for lunch.
In addition, you need to have a gas stove, gas bottle and pots as well.
Get some practical advice on Mountain Food so you maximize your performance – here.
You need to reach Kazbegi from Tibilisi or Kutaisi airport in order to team up with your guide. If you need any assistance regarding to the most efficent route to do this, just contact us!
The Georgian currency is the Georgian Lari (GEL), its change is the Tetri. Although the safest and simplest place to change is the bank, there are plenty of trustworthy euro-, dollar- and ruble-changing kiosks. There are few shopping possibilities, but you can go on shopping mainly before or after the trek, while eating out in the village. A beer is circa 3 laris, and a full meal is about 10-16 laris.
The Georgian government consciously supports and strengthens its tourism sector, due to its significant role in the Georgian economy. Westerners are common visitors of Georgia, unlike in neighbouring Azerbaijan and Armenia. Though the Georgians don’t speak foreign languages other than Russian, they usually know the basic habits and requirements of the tourists. Thanks to their helpfulness and their openness, you will feel safe and welcome most of the time.