OverviewMisses Tau offers the second easiest route on the peaks in the Northern Massif in Bezengi. Standards here are high and even the classic/normal route is graded 4B Russian grade, which roughly corresponds to TD. This classical ice route are many times used for acclimatization and training before attempting some of the harder peaks in Bezengi's northern massif.
First ascent by A.Ivanishvili, I.Bakradse, A.Kavtaradse, D.Kandesili, W.Kvatshandadse, G.Kiniari & R.Natadse in 08/1951.
The north face of Misses Tau is almost like custom-made for climbing and the surrounding area is very beautiful. The approach is not entirely safe, but compared to the routes to all other peaks in the Northern Massif which includes dodgy glacier crossings, it's more negotiable for non-experts.
The nearby Pik Kursantov offers good and easy snowclimbing and Pik Brno has one of the best summit-views in all of Bezengi.
Even if you're not a climber, the walk to Misses Tau and the spectacular camping below its beautiful face is worth the effort.
There is a technically easier route along the south ridge from west, but it is seldom climbed as the normal ice and snow climb of the face is so challenging and interesting.
This route is a Russian grade 3A and the the first ascent was made by A.Germagenov, M.Afanasjev & N.Nikoljev in 08/1931.
Getting ThereYou have to arrange transport from Nalchik, a small city at the foot of the Caucasus. For a minibus for 6 persons, it's €100. It'll take you all the way through the checkpoints along the way to Camp Bezengi. There are no regular transport and the military checkpoint on the way will bounce you if you haven't the proper documentation. IF you're going with the minibus, all this is taken care of by Bezengi Camp's head office in Nalchik.
Start from the alpine base - Camp Bezengi.
Follow the right hand side of Mizhirgi glacier until you hit the junction of glaciers. Here is a perfect place to stash some gear and food you don't need for an ascent of Misses Tau. There are even better camp spots along the way to this point and it can be hard to make the whole distance in one day.
Continue to your right/west up the small, steep paths. In the summertime this is usually on rock, scree and grass.
When you reach the shoulder, you'll find good places for camping.
From here on you're on glaciers or snowfields and the route is in parts dangerous for rock-falls and to a lesser extent avalanches. To avoid the former, travel early in the morning.
A 45-50 degree, slope leads you to a big snow plain and on the other side of it, the north face of Misses Tau awaits you. The best campspots are located in west corner of the snowfield, but use you judgement carefully here - there are spots with frequent rock fall danger.
Red TapeNo summit fee is required for any of the peaks in Bezengi.
You have to register at Camp Bezengi and the fee to be in the National Park of Bezingi is at the time writing, €3/day.
This fee includes free camping, rescue service and free acess to Camp Bezengi, whic includes a library with good photos and route descriptions of the mountains in the area. In addition you can also use the rest of the facilities at Camp Bezengi, which includes a little training room, sauna, free gear stash, safe deposit etc.
You also have to have "Bezengi" written on your invitation to Russia.
If you attempt a mountain which is at 5A/TD or more difficult you have to borrow a walkie-talkie from the administration in Camp Bezengi. You are also obligued to report to base every three hours. Exceptions are only made if you are a large party consisting of well known, experienced climbers.
Camp Bezengi lend you the walkie-talkie free of charge.
The best way to get all the red tape is to contact Camp Bezengi directly.
When To ClimbThe mountain is climbed during all seasons. It can be frigidly cold in the winter, but it all depends on which type of climber you are - green grass and warm sun or rough winter conditions.
CampingCamping is allowed everywhere in Bezengi National Park. The only time you have to ask where to put the tent is close to Camp Bezengi, so you don't interefer with the plans for larger parties which the camp-administration may await.
There are accomodation available at Camp Bezengi. Prices starts at €3 for a basic room and the most expensive rooms are at €10, where you have hot shower and toilet inside the room.
Basic huts are to be found in various places in Bezengi National Park and they are free of charge.
Mountain ConditionsThere are no websites which monitors the weather on the mountain specifically. The best alternative is to either call Camp Bezengi or get in contact by e-mail.
When at Camp Bezengi itself you can get updates every day in the base or via radio communication equipment from the Camp Bezengi.
Maps and more informationA lot of photos, route descriptions and other info is to be found on this website.
Good maps of the area are available at the small shop at the base. It's really good topographic maps at 1:50 000. Hard to get elsewhere and a nice little detail on them are the rating of the passes. The shop have maps of Bezengi, but also for most of the interesting parts of the Caucasus. Price a sheet: €1.5
The BookKopylov, the person who really knows the mountains of the Caucasus has written a book called Forbidden Mountains - The most beautiful Mountains of Russia and Central Asia.
SafetyMany people seem to think the whole of the Caucasus is synonymous with extreme danger of getting kidnapped, shot or ending up in the middle of a civil war. It's not the case. Of course Chechnya, parts of Dagestan and some of the border areas are dangerous, but the Bezengi area and almost all areas west from there are perfectly safe. If there are a danger spot close to the border, there are armed forces which keeps you away from the danger. In all valleys leading to the border to Georgia, there are army checkpoints and they will make sure you don't stray into an area where you are at danger.
Most interesting mountaineering options are west of Bezengi anyway and the only "popular" mountain east of there is Kazbek. The option of going there is sometimes dangerous and when asking about the peak I was strongly advised not to go there.