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Ushba
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Ushba

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Ushba

Page Type: Mountain/Rock

Location: Caucasus, Georgia, Europe

Lat/Lon: 43.12417°N / 42.65991°E

Object Title: Ushba

Elevation: 15453 ft / 4710 m

 

Page By: alexclimb

Created/Edited: Apr 22, 2005 / May 25, 2012

Object ID: 153969

Hits: 56431 

Page Score: 99.72%  - 130 Votes 

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Overview

If the place of birth of the technical mountain climbing is Matterhorn in the Alps, so concerning Russia it can be said without doubts that technical mountain climbing got its beginning on Mount Ushba in Caucasus. The majestic outline of this mountain fascinates, rivets your sight. The geometric accuracy of the forms and tremendous proportions of this world wide famous Caucasian mountain do not leave any place for doubt - here She is, The Queen of Caucasus, majestic, inaccessible, wilful and proud mountain - Ushba.

Ushba - the most beautiful and difficult mountain of Caucasus, the Queen, which is proudly reigning above the Main Caucasian Mountain Range. More than the one hundred years history of ascensions of this mountain keeps many heroic and dramatic episodes. All the history of Russian mountaineering is deeply connected with this strange word - Ushba, the mountain with strange and somehow disturbing name, which even local people - Svanetians, who live at the foot of it, can not explain clearly...

One version of translation of this name from Svanetian language is "The road to nowhere", the others are "The wretched place" or "The place of the witches Sabbath". SP member PeterN added this variant: ush = terrible, ba = mountain.

Climbing Ushba is difficult both technically and psychologically, the mountain gets on the climber, tries to break him, to force him to give up before the Summit. It is impossible to tell, what the climber feels standing on top, among curling clouds there, where two worlds are merging - reality and eternity..

For the long time the Normal North Ushba route (4a Russian Grade) was the most popular and frequently climbed route of Ushba - it is going trough the Ushba Icefall from the North (Russia). Now this exceptionally beautiful route became outlawed - as Ushba is located in the South Spur of the Caucasian Mountain Range, climbing this mountain is trespassing the Russian border and violating the Law.... Severe form of marasmus if to be more precise. As the border in the unaccessible mountain zone is not marked and from Georgian side can be climbed by ED routes only... Normally climbing Ushba from Russia took 5-7 days.

All the South Ushba routes from South are much longer and more difficult, they require much more time and serious preparation, but on the other hand, attempting Ushba from the South makes it possible to undertake unique travel to Svanetia - forgotten mountain world, which until our days keeps the authentic atmosphere of the ancient time.
The most accessible South Ushba climbing route is Gabriel Khergiany route (5б Russian Grade), this climb takes not less than 12 days.

Climbing history

North Summit of Ushba (4690 m) has been climbed first time in 1888 by John Garford Cokkin and mountain guide Ulrich Almer.
South Summit (4710 m) has been climbed 15 years after the North One - in 1903 by the joined team of German, Swiss and Austrian climbers under the command of B. Rickmer-Rickmers.

Getting There

!!August 2010. At the moment there is no possible access from the Russian side!! The Ushba icefall from the middle to upper plateau has collapsed and attempting to climb it will surely come to death.

Until now there was two basic ways to get to the base of Ushba - the first and most popular was from Russia (although it is illegal - doing so you cross the Russian-Georgian border), and the other way is from Georgia.

From Mineralnye Vody (Russia) take a taxi or regular bus to Adyl-Su valley (approx. 200 km). Some camping and hotels are located in the valley from cheap to quite expensive, camping in any other place is free, but you should keep your eye on your bags or tent all the time. The trek begins from the Shkhelda BC. You can get all necessary information on the nearby rescue station but if you inform them of your decision to climb Ushba most likely this information will be passed to the borderguards. The area can be dangerous for foreigners.

From Tbilisi (Georgia) by car or regular bus 400 km to Mestia by a bad road 8-10 hours.

If North Ushba is you goal, take a taxi from Mestia to Maseri village, then by a good marked trail which trekkers use to go to the waterfalls, climb to the Ushba glacier. the last place for bivouac is "Hunting place" 3200m. From this bivouac look for the passing between the crevasses and via the Ushba Pass climb to the upper Ushba plateau.

Another variant if you go for South Ushba is to go by taxi to Chohuldi village, then follow the trail to the "Gul bivouac".

Red Tape

As Ushba is located in the South Spur of the Main Caucasian Mountain Range, by which the Russian - Georgian border is going, formally the climbing Ushba from the North is violating the Russian Law and, consequently, (in case of getting caught and inculpatory evidence) will be punished.

The new Russian border regulations (2009) require both from foreigners and Russian visitors getting the border permit for entering the Adyl-Su or Adyr-Su valleys. The time necessary for fixing all the formalities of this permission is 60 days.

When To Climb

It depends on the route you choose. The Normal (Illegal) from Russia to the North Summit is better to climb until the Ushba Icefall is still covered with snow as it is becoming more and more crevassed and dangerous in the last years. But there is another problem - more snow is good for climbing Ushba Icefall but it can make the Summit Ridge unclimbable. So, all depends on the present conditions and your luck. June, July, August and September are ok.

To climb Ushba from Georgia is better in the most stable weather period - July - August.

Winter climbs are possible but are extremely tough.

Camping

No huts, no fees. Camping is free



Good guesthouse on the way to Ushba climb www.ushbahomestay.com

Mountain Conditions

Ushba has its own local weather conditions. Normally it is worse than somewhere in the nearby area. Ushba massif is one of the highest and most glaciated parts if the Main Caucasian mountain range and somehow it attracts the bad weather. The area is called by climbers The Rotten Corner because of its unpredictable and difficult weather conditions.

The weather is comparable better and stable in full moon periods.

No web-cams or weather related websites.

External Links

Information on the organized commercial tours and technical climbs in Caucasus (Elbrus, Kazbek, Ushba, Shkhara, Koshtan and Dykh-Tau) you can find here

Fresh photos from the recent AlexClimb Caucasus expedition here

Additions and Corrections

[ Post an Addition or Correction ]
Viewing: 1-7 of 7    
CoraxAdd

Corax

Voted 10/10

I think you should add Cukrik's fantastic Ushba photos to the page.

This one for example.
Posted Jan 26, 2010 1:41 pm
alexclimbRe: Add

alexclimb

Hasn't voted

Thanks for your correction, Corax, I attached the great photo you mentioned. Cheers, Alex
Posted Feb 5, 2010 4:49 am
mightyboaAugust 2010 update

mightyboa

Hasn't voted

We've been there in the beginning of August from Russian side. The icefall was in awful state, so we had to climb Peak Schurvskiy (the summit left from the ice-fall) first, decent to Ushba plateau and only then we climbed the classic N-S Ushba traverse. And the very same way back, with long rappels over Schurovskiy wall, so it was a long journey..



As we were coming back to the camp in the valley we were stopped by border guards, it appeared that they were watching us and willing to catch for illegal border crossing. We spent a day in their office down in the valley, in the end it all finished with a 5000 rubles (~130 Euro) per person fine, but theoretically things could go much worse (the maximum fine for illegal border crossing is up to 200000 rubles (~5000 Euro, or up to 5 years imprisonment).



There were traces from Ushba icefall to the N Ushba summit (as well as traces to Chatyn and Schurovskiy over simple ridges), obviously people came there from Georgian side. We also met 2 guys on S Ushba summit, who climbed G.Hergiani's route from Georgia, they told us that there absolutely no problems at Georgian side, people are friendly, many climbing parties trying to summit Ushba, no formal problems with border guards etc.



So it seems that now going from Georgian side is almost the only way to climb Ushba, even for a classic ridge route to a northern summit. As for the Ushba ice-fall from the Russian side, I think it is now possible to go there only in the first part of summer, perhaps in June or early July.
Posted Sep 2, 2010 6:55 am
IrinasmAccommodation near Ushba

Hasn't voted

Dear Alex,



We climbed South Ushba on Khergiani route in August last year (2011). We stayed in a homestay in the village Becho, which is the last village before the trailhead. We were very happy with the services in the home where we stayed. Here is the webpage for the homestay:



http://www.ushbahomestay.com



Many Georgian climbers stay in this home. The owner is not a guide. He provides meals and room in the village and helps arrange for pack horses and the permit. Maybe you can put the link for this homestay, so that it simplifies logistics for other climbers.



For example, cell phone reception reception was perfect all the way up till the summit, we were able to check in with Shalva every morning to get the weather forcast for the day.
Posted May 23, 2012 1:32 pm
alexclimbRe: Accommodation near Ushba

alexclimb

Hasn't voted

Thank you a lot for your addition, it is useful and correct! It is really good place to stay. The only incorret thing is your reference to "permit" - there is no such thing in Georgia now and may be you confused it with border pass.. anyway you have not to pay for it - as it is free.
Posted May 25, 2012 5:23 am
IrinasmRe: Accommodation near Ushba

Hasn't voted

Indeed, I was refering to pass - document you get from the border patrol office. It is not the permit to climb, just the permit (pass) to be on the border for the purpose of climbing. It is free and they give it to you on the spot.
Posted May 27, 2012 9:41 am
FreeSurfOne more good homestay near Ushba. Peak Mazeri Guest House.

Hasn't voted

Hello, friends)

I'd like to recommend one more nice place in Becho to stay some days before Ushba climbing.

I think is much better to stay in Becho than in Mestia.

Owners have their own horses. Old Svan house, rooms with Ushba view, local tasty food.

This door is always open for climbers and backpackers all over the world.



Peak Mazeri Guest House, Mazeri village, Becho - www.hotel-svaneti-mestia.com

It is possible to book in advance on a website.



Posted Aug 3, 2013 6:12 am

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