With the lapping waters of the Black Sea to the west, Russia to the north, Azerbaijan to the east and Armenia and Turkey to the South, Georgia is a Caucasus favorite, and for good reason.
The peaked landscapes of this stunning spot make it a great destination for ski touring, with virgin snow ideal for exhilarating runs. Of course, reaching remote spots requires the guidance of a professional mountain guide who can not only point the right direction but also help coordinate the adequate logistics.
The breathtaking mountains are not the only reason you’ll want to visit Georgia. Medieval fortresses, caves, monasteries and other stunning cultural and historic landmarks add to this majestic country’s unique appeal and mystique!
Located in the Stepansminda district, at an altitude of 2,200 m., Gudauri is one of the country’s most popular ski resorts just a two hour drive away from its capital, Tbilisi. The resort has 7 ski lifts, and this is also a popular region for heliskiing and ski touring away from the crowds. Furthermore, this area is safe from avalanches, above the tree line and quite sunny!
How to get there: Gudauri is approximately 120 kms away from Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital. Options to get there include renting a car and driving for two hours, taking a taxi or taking a local minibus (marshrutka) from Didube bus station in Tbilisi. Keep in mind that marshrutkas operate from 8am to 5pm. Another option is to organize a transfer service, which you may be able to coordinate with your guide or the hotel you’re staying at in Gudauri.
At 5,047 m, Mount Kazbek is the highest peak in eastern Georgia. It is a dormant stratovolcano and lies on the Borjomi–Kazbegi Fault. Therefore, you can expect some seismic action, namely small earthquakes. Additionally, this stunning mountain also has some great hot springs, and due to its steepness, not many glaciers. It is also home to the Kazbegi nature reserve.
Furthermore, there is a lot of mystery surrounding this mountain. At an altitude of 4000 meters, there is an Orthodox hermitage where it is said that a Prometheus-like Georgian hero named Amirani was chained, and where religious relics such as Jesus’ manger were allegedly housed.
How to get there: Mt. Kazbek is a 3 hour drive away from Tbilisi. The closest town is Stepantsminda. Options to get there include renting a car and driving, taking a taxi or taking a local minibus (marshrutka) from Didube bus station in Tbilisi. Keep in mind that marshrutkas operate from 8am to 5pm. Another options is to organize a transfer service, which you may be able to coordinate with your guide or the hotel you’re staying at.
Svaneti lies in the northwest of the country, in the province of Georgia. This historical region is the highest inhabited area in the Caucasus and has peaks that range between 3,000 to 5,000 meters in altitude. This area is famous for its breathtaking summits, glaciers and deep gorges. At low altitudes, it also features stunning forests. Additionally, because of its historical relevance, Svaneti is also a great place to visit monuments, orthodox churches and other architectural landmarks.
Because this area is prone to avalanches, it is doubly important to go with a seasoned guide that can not only lead you to the top skiing spots in the area, but also gauge the weather conditions accordingly.
On this 8-day ski touring adventure in Svaneti you will be able to explore some of the emblematic peaks in the area including Ushba (4,710m), Shkhara (5,193m) and Tetnuldi (4,856m). Additionally, you will get to spend the night in some of the beautiful villages in the region.
Starting point: Mestia
How to get there: You can get to Svaneti by car, marshrutka/minivan, taxi or you can take a plane from Tbilisi to Mestia or Kutaisi to Mestia to the Mestia Queen Tamar airport. Keep in mind that flights are not daily.
At an altitude of 2000m, Bakhmaro is a stunning and remote alpine village in western Georgia on the banks of the Bakhvistsqali River. This off the beaten path spot is famous for its beautiful pine forests and cottage clad valleys, and for its breathtaking sunrises. In the winter, its pristine and abundant snow makes it ideal for ski touring in untouched spots, perfect for rediscovering nature. Because the touristic infrastructure is less developed than in other regions, it is important that you go with a guide that can help with logistics. This is the ideal spot for those looking for a real freeriding backcountry experience.
On this 7-day catskiing tour in Bakhmaro, you will be able go deep into the untouched Bakhmaro slopes and enjoy a unique adventure away from everything but the snow!
Starting point: Chokhatauri
How to get there: In the winter, your best bet is to hire a taxi or rent a car and drive there from Chokhatauri which is 52 kilometers away. Otherwise, check with your guide to see what arrangements can be made.
Where to sleep in Georgia?
Gudauri and Svaneti have some great hotels and lodges with sauna, gym and other amenities. On Mount Kazbek proper, you will find Bethlemi Hut, which is also known as the Meteo Station where you can either pay to pitch a tent or rent a room with straw mattress bunk beds. In Bakhmaro, you can rent a cabin from the locals, but arranging this is best done with a guide that knows the region.
When is the best time for ski touring in Georgia?
Snow season in Georgia is quite long. From as early as October you can already expect snowfalls, in some regions, which can last up to May. The official ski season is from December to mid April.
Other activities in the area
Lomisi Monastery lies at an altitude of 2200 meters and is a great spot to hike up to. When you get there, you can enjoy some tea with the monks that live there.
As you climb Mount Kazbek you will have the chance to stop by Gergeti Glacier, a breathtaking spot that many overlook, that is stunning both for its sights and unique sound.
With Shkhara mountain as its backdrop, Lamaria Church, in the village of Ushguli in Svaneti boasts breathtaking views. Additionally, you will find beautiful frescoes inside.
Learn how to sing krimanchuli, a type of Georgian yodel like music that you can then join in on upon returning from skiing.
Georgia is a place of great mystique, don’t miss the chance to discover this beautiful country and its amazing backcountry and ski touring opportunities!