For a long time I’ve wanted to go train my skis in the Caucasus Mountains. Several guide friends have tested the powder of these summits. Indeed, their information was invaluable to build this trip. But I really wanted to try to make a valley to valley crossing. With Manu Rioulec, friend Corsica guide, who was there last year, we were able to find the solution for the traverse. This is what I present here!
The Caucasus Mountains are spread over a distance of 1200 km between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. I propose to explore a forgotten region of the Russian Caucasus located in the republic of Kabardino-Balkaria. Famous for its cold snow, this massive glacier presents a very Alpine character. Many peaks rise above 4000 m and mark a natural border between Europe and Asia.
The mindset of the trip:
We begin with three days hiking around Bezengi refuge to get to know the massif. Then follows a camp to camp raid of five days to reach the Baksan Valley at the foot of Mount Elbrus. This original raid has seldom been traveled. Despite an extensive preparation, we will need a great capacity for adaptation and management of some contingencies. To respond to the hazards of this kind of travel, a local team will organize a daily assistance.
Of course the program is just an indication. Unexpected changes are an essential component of this kind of trips. The choice of excursions can change according to snow conditions and weather, or the physical fitness of participants.
Does this off-road adventure interest you? Then I invite you to contact me to discuss about it. I will enjoy giving you more information and seeing with you how we can arrange this nice stay to meet your expectations.
Flight Paris – Moscow – Min Vody
International flight to Moscow and then to Min Vody, a small town at the foot of the Caucasus Mountains. Arrival in the morning and then transfer directly to the town of Pyatigorsk. Night in a hotel at Pyatigorsk .
Transfer to Bezengi Camp
A 6-hour drive takes us to the Bezengi Valley. We usually travel the last km by 4×4 vehicle to the refuge, during heavy snowfall the last kilometers can be covered on skis. In the afternoon we will ski on the slopes behind the refuge. Dinner and overnight at Camp Bezengi
|Day 3 to 5|
Ski around the Camp Bezengi
We have 3 days to explore this wild valley. Some ideas for daily backcountry around the camp Bezengi (2200 m):
|Day 6 to 8|
Crossing Bezengi - Valley Ardysou
This is the heart of the raid. This traverse is very rarely traveled, quite engaged and very wild. Every night we sleep in mountain huts rarely used in winter.
Hiking loop around Ullu Tau camp
Night at Camp Ullutau.
Crossing Ardysou Valley - Valley Aldysou
By the Gulmashi we reach the Aldysou valley, then the Baksan valley, at the foot of Mount Elbrus. This stage marks the end of our journey. Transfer to the city of Piatygorsk. City tour. Overnight in Hotel at Piatygorsk
|Day 11 to 12|
Transfer to the airport of Min Vody and flight Min Vody – Moscow – Paris.
Price per person
|Group of 4||3290EUR|
|Group of 5||3290EUR|
|Group of 6||3290EUR|
- Guiding fee
- All meals during trip
- Transport during the trip
- Permit and entrance fees
- Hotel ** in Pyatigorsk
Level: This type of stay is accessible for experienced hikers with good experience of ski touring. The stages last between 7 and 10 hours, altitude changes are often quite important between 1500 to 1800 m daily. The slopes are often sustained between 30° and 35° and very changeable snow conditions, so it asks participants to know how to descend in any snow with a backpack and understand perfectly the climbing conversions. Good physical fitness required.
To be carried: During the 3 days of crossing between Besengi and Ullutau, our support does the supply of food, but we have to carry our sleeping bags and personal belongings in our backpacks. We find our luggage at Ullutau.
Crampons: Some peaks or parts of ascent in ice or hard snow require the use of crampons. A little experience of walking with crampons is preferable.
Weather: In the Caucasus Mountains winters are very harsh, very cold and with heavy snowfall. In April temperatures rise a bit but the conditions are still wintery.
Glacier environment: Much of our rides are on glaciers, so we can be led to be roped up in some very crevassed areas both in the ascent and descent.
Visa: A visa is required for transit through or to stay in Russia. This must be requested from the Russian Embassy in Paris or to the Russian consulate in Strasbourg or Marseille. Visas, except transit visas are issued upon presentation of an invitation from a Russian respondent. At your registration I will send you a personal invitation from my provider to enable you to make your visa application.
Electric power: To charge your devices, an adapter is necessary. At Uluttau refuge power only lasts a few hours, at the Bezenghi refuge electricity can be deficient and therefore isn't guaranteed. If power is essential for you, I suggest you get equipped with additional batteries. No electricity during the Bezengi-Ullutau crossing.
Cell phone: There is no network available in mountain areas.
The guide reserves the right to change the program according to the weather and snow conditions, and the fitness of the participants.