Mount Kazbek, a symbol of Georgia as well as one of the most beautiful mountains in the Caucasus, is a main reason for visiting Stepantsminda. With the articles about one day trips (HERE) and several days’ treks (HERE) in the vicinity of Mount Kazbek, we want to encourage you to get to know our beautiful region. But if you want to get tired and are looking for something more than trekking, check out the description of nine peaks in the Khevi region, which you can conquer during your visit.
Mt. Orcveri, 4350 m above sea level
Not many people have heard about Mount Orcveri, even though, together with Mount Kazbek, it overlooks whole Stepantsminda. Moreover, scarce information you might find in the internet doesn’t give it attention it deserves, even though its landscape and climbing advantages are not inferior to the more popular neighbour. Not so many groups decide on conquering this summit, in spite of its amazing view on Mount Kazbek (5054 m above sea level) and, if the visibility is good, even on Shkhara (5194 m above sea level), the highest mountain in Georgia. Orcveri is 4350 m high, and is separated from Mount Kazbek only with the Gergeti glacier. This is why the first stages of climbing both of these peaks are similar. The route leads from the Monastery of the Holy Trinity, through the Arsha Pass and Meteo Station, up to the Black Cross at about 4000 m above sea level. This is where we start heading left towards the Orcveri peak, and right towards the Mount Kazbek peak. The difficulties you may need to face on your way to the Mount Orcveri’s peak are: sliding rocks, glacier traverse, steep ascent, exposure and unstable ground. Climbing Orcveri can be treated as an independent expedition or as an acclimatization climb before trying to conquer Mount Kazbek. We definitely recommend this peak, as it belongs to our favorites in the region!
Chaukhi, 3864 m above sea level
In the ranking of the most beautiful Caucasian mountains, the Chaukhi massif would definitely be high on the list. It is located on the border between two Georgian regions (Khevi and Khevsureti), towering over the Juta valley on one side, and with Roshka and the Abudelari lakes on the other. There is a reason why it is called the „Caucasian Dolomites”. Its uniqueness, magnificence and its seven peaks (each higher than 3000 m!) take your breath away. It’s not surprising that Chaukhi is a very popular hiking place in Georgia. There’s something for everybody here, as you can adjust the route’s difficulty level to your skills and abilities. The biggest peak of the massif, as well as the hardest to conquer, is Asatiani at an altitude of 3864m. There’s a route to the summit, V-VI grades in UIAA system. For those who have just started their adventure with climbing, we recommend the Rcheulishvili peak (3642 m above sea level). The undeniable difficulty of each one of the routes is their unstable and crumbly ground. The massif is built from fine-grained fragmental sedimentary rocks, such as sandstone and shale, and therefore crumbles, which can constitute a danger for climbers. From the summits of the massif, you can enjoy stunning landscapes of wild Khevsureti and Khevi and Mount Kazbek. You can also easily see the Georgian Military Road and Russian, Chechen and Dagestan peaks.
Kuro, 4041 m above sea level
The majesty of Kuro charms everybody coming to Kazbegi. There are people more amazed with its breathtaking massif, surrounding Stepantsminda from the east, than with Mount Kazbek itself! Its impressiveness comes not only from its magnitude, but also from the fact that it ascends almost vertically into our village. Its complex landform is mesmerizing, and the massif’s enormity creates atmosphere of inaccessibility. And in fact, there are not many people who decide to climb Kuro (4041 m above sea level). You need considerable experience to attempt conquering this summit. Those who want to get closer to it, but not necessarily get to the peak, can choose trekking in Khde Gorge. From there, you can admire Kuro from all directions. You can read more about trekking in the Khde Gorge: HERE. Whoever conquers Kuro will enjoy one of the most beautiful Caucasian panoramas. From there, you can see Mount Kazbek, Mount Orcveri, a part of the Greater Caucasus in Russia, the Esikomi pass with protruding volcanic peaks of the Keli Plateau, Gudauri resort, as well as mountains in Chechnya and Dagestan.
Western Khorisar, 3736 m above sea level
One of the most mysterious mountains in the Greater Caucasus. Due to the location of Western Khorisar (3736 m above sea level) on the border between the Khevi region and South Ossetia, not long ago it was necessary to obtain permission from Border Guard in order to ascend the mountain. Even though you don’t need permission now, it’s still a big challenge to conquer the volcano. First of all, you need to reach the Kelitsadi Lake (more about this trek you may find: HERE), where a trail to the summit begins. Tiring, steep ascent on the southern slope of the mountain can quickly become challenging. As well as stony ground that makes walking difficult. Other troublesome aspects of the trek might be its scree parts as well as crumbly ground, which often make it necessary to use your hands. The route to the peak might be demanding and difficult, but it is definitely worth the trouble. The views from the top are simply amazing. On one side, we can admire the Keli Plateau and peaks of the neighboring mountains, Deadena and Sherkhota, and the Kelitsadi Lake hidden between rock slabs. On the other side, there’s Mount Kazbek.
Sherkhota, 3695 m above sea level
Sherkhota, together with Western Khorisar, is another peak which surrounds the blue pearl of Caucasus, namely the Kelitsadi Lake (you can find the description of the trek to the lake: HERE). The beauty of this volcanic cone, with a height of 3595 m above sea level, encourages us to go trekking for several hours. Even though we should not come across any technical difficulties, the trail leading to the peak can be tiring. The ascent is steep while the ground crumbly and brittle. However, it would be worthwhile to extend your trek to the Kelitsadi Lake and conquer Sherkhota as well, because only from its summit can you see the majesty of the mountains of the Greater Caucasus, its variety when it comes to colors and geology. In the foreground you can admire the red and rusty Keli Plateau, in the background there’s a snowy summit of the towering Mount Kazbek. On the other side, you can take a look at wonderful green hills which surround the valley of the White Aragvi River.
Deadena, 3488 m above sea level
Deadena (3488 m above sea level) is a marvelous trekking summit, tempting with its beauty everyone crossing the Georgian Military Road. Dangerous and inaccessible appearance of the mountain can be deceptive, but in fact, when you have some skills, you should be able to climb it safely. The trail leading to the peak starts at the Cross Pass and then goes through the steep, eastern slope up to the pass. In this part of the route, despite the tiring ascents and the exposure on the ridge, you should not experience any technical difficulties. But they might begin on the pass. In the last part, it will be necessary to use belay equipment, as there is a risk of rock fragments falling off. Krzysztof Dąbrowski proposed an alternative route. It goes westwards through the couloirs between the peak and a rocky alp. A difficulty of both of the routes lies in unstable ground, which requires some experience in similar terrain and a great deal of concentration. The conquerors of this demanding mountain will be rewarded with breathtaking, colorful view: a panorama of volcanic peaks of the Keli Plateau and the Georgian Military Road in the foreground, and snowy Mount Kazbek in the background.
Narvankhokhi, 3247 m above sea level
Narvankhokhi (3247 m above sea level) is one the youngest Caucasian volcanoes. It is not damaged by the glacier and its characteristics are undestroyed rock surface and stable, uncrumbled rock blocks. The regular shape of the cone makes it technically easy to climb. However, there is one factor which restricts conquering the mountain, namely its location. Narvankhokhi spreads on the vast area between Georgia and South Ossetia. This is way it is required to have permission from Border Guards to access this territory. We strongly misadvise to enter this area without all the necessary documents, as the adventure may end up in Ossetian jail! But a true feast for the eyes awaits those who will manage to obtain the permission. Just one and a half kilometer from the Narvankhokhi’s peak, there is one of the most beautiful Caucasian lakes – the turquoise Kelitsadi Lake. Moreover, you can take a look at the neighboring volcanoes: Sherkhota and Western and Eastern Khorisar. In the background you can see Mount Kazbek towering above all. When the visibility is good, you might be able to see the Chaukhi massif, the Gudauri resort, or even Tebulosmta, the highest peak of the wildest of Georgian regions, Tusheti and Khevsureti.
Sadzele, 3308 m above sea level
Gudauri, located around 30 km south from Stepantsminda, is a developing Georgian ski resort. From December to April it welcomes winter and ski lovers. In the summertime, however, it lures visitors with its picturesque, unspoiled mountain range of the Greater Caucasus, including three peaks higher than 3000 m: Sadzele, Bidara and Kudebi. The highest one, with two summits, is Sadzele (3307 m above sea level). Actually, it is a volcano with an unusual geological structure, consisting of sedimentary, deep and metamorphic rock materials. Hence its rusty color, which distinguishes it from neighboring mountains. The route to the peaks leads from Gudauri. You cover the elevation of around 1100 m through a fairly steep, but technically undemanding, slope (the route via the Kobi Pass at an altitude of 2900 m above sea level). There’s a cable car going to the Kobi Pass (the next stations are in Gudauri as well as in Kazbegi/Kobi), which can greatly facilitate the climb. The last 400 m is the most difficult part of the trail to the peak. The ground of this volcanic cone is brittle and crumbly, and demands you to really focus on every step you take. However, the view from the summit is sure worth the trouble. The panoramic view on the Gudauri resort and Mount Kazbek is truly mesmerizing. From Sadzele, you can also take a trek to the peaks of Bidara and Kudebi.
Kudebi, 3006 m above sea level
Kudebi (3006 m above sea level) could be a perfect start of your adventure in the Caucasus. It’s easy to climb, but offers a truly amazing view on the surroundings. From there, you can see the whole Georgian Military Road, the Gudauri resort and Mount Kazbek. The usual trekking route starts in Gudauri. There’s also an alternative route from the Khda Gorge. In both cases, you need to cover the elevation of around 800 m. For people who don’t feel they are up to this task, there’s also a chairlift to the peak. When on Kudebi, it’s definitely worth to go to the Kobi Pass (2900 m above sea level) and then to Bidara (3174 m above sea level) or on the highest peak of this mountain range – Sadzele (3307 m above sea level). This route isn’t really demanding, but you need still need to be careful: the ground is crumbly and brittle.
Bidara, 3174 m above sea level
Bidara (3174 m above sea level) is a perfect trekking choice for the less advances mountaineers. It doesn’t mean, though, that experienced climbers will not enjoy it, quite the opposite! Bidara is an example of an easy but spectacular mountain. From its peak, you can enjoy the marvelous views of the Greater Caucasus. Not only can you see neighbouring Deadana, but also Western and Eastern Khorisar, Sherkhota and Mount Kazbek. There are a couple of routes to the summit. If you start your trek from the Cross Pass, then you’ll take the northern slope to the peak. You can also start at Gudauri and go up the eastern wall. In this case, you can also use the cable car from the Kobi Pass, with its final station at an altitude of 2900 m above sea level. Whichever route you take, you should not have any problems to navigate in this area. As you should not experience any technical difficulties on your way to the top, all you need to conquer this mountain are trekking shoes and poles.
As you can see, there are a lot of mountain adventures that await you here in Stepantsminda even if you don’t go to Mount Kazbek. If you are interested in conquering any of the Kazbegi’s peaks, we’re happy to organize a trip or trekking with one of our guides. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us here: firstname.lastname@example.org or via our Facebook page: Mountain Freaks – Mountain Travel & Adventure Agency.