Peak Gestola is one of the most beautiful mountains of the central part of the Main Caucasian Range, not so known as Ushba or Dykh Tau, but not less interesting for climbing and not less attractive by the correctness of its forms. Peak Gestola is located directly on the border of Russia and Georgia, its summit is equally accessible both from the famous mountaineering center Bezengi (Kabardino-Balkaria) and from the rapidly developing mountain resort Mestia (Svaneti) in Georgia. If you look from the bottom of Bezengi gorge to the side of famous Bezengi Wall, the first mountain you will see is Gestola, the flawlessly correct snow triangle that closes the valley and separates the sharp rocky peaks from the deep blue sky. Literally, this is one of those mountains that you can see once and remember for all your life. The summit of Gestola, due to its simple and memorable form, has become a symbol of the whole Bezengi region, it is the most frequently photographed and pictured mountain of this region of the North Caucasus. Unfortunately, at the moment (2018), access to the summit of Gestola from Russia is closed - apparently, in the interests of state security, ascent to Gestola from Russia is prohibited.
If you look at Gestola from the side of Georgia, the first thing that catches your eye is its almost identical resemblance to the neighboring mountain Tetnuld - these two twin mountains are connected to each other by a long saddle, through which both mountains can be traversed in several days of quite tough climb. There are several routes to the Summit of Gestola of medium and high difficulty, there are no easy climbing routes to that mountain. Despite the obvious interest for mountaineering, there are relatively few ascents of Gestola peak done annually - this is justified by bureaucratic difficulties and bans on the part of Russia from where the access route is relatively easier, and as from Georgia all the climber’s attention is concentrated on the neighboring Mount Tetnuld, which is simpler technically and has more convenient infrastructure.
As mentioned above, the summit of Gestola is accessible both from Russia and from Georgia. Unfortunately, at the present moment (2018) there is a ban on climbing to the summit of Gestola from Russia, from where there is a simpler approach route to Gestola from the mountaineering camp Bezengi. You can get to the camp by car from Nalchik (3 hours) or Mineralnye Vody (5 hours), then the further way is obvious and does not present any difficulties. The approach route to Gestola from Georgia begins from the Jabeshi village (10 hours by car from Tbilisi) and goes through incredibly beautiful Zannery canyon. The route to Gestola from Georgia requires a good knowledge of the area - the trails marked on the old maps exist no longer and it is very difficult to find a way up the gorge to the Zanner glacier. The most of the problem is represented by the lower part of the approach, after getting to the left branch of Zanner glacier, there are no problems.
With the two variants of approach - from Russia or from Georgia, there is only one route of ascent to the summit of Gestola. The classical route starts from the border pass of Zanner and goes via the adjacent Mount Lyalver. Climbing Lyalver is the crux part of all the Gestola climb. On the way up to the top of Lyalver you have to overcome technically difficult rocky pitches of moderate difficulty, on the unstable and loose slate rocks, with a high probability of rockfall. As a rule, the groups going to Gestola climb Lyalver with a full set of equipment for the bivouac, and set the camp in the saddle 4300 m at the base of the West Buttress of Gestola. If the group is sufficiently prepared and physically strong - it is possible to climb Gestola without the upper camp, from the bivouac near Zanner pass, but this is quite difficult physically. On the route you have to be very attentive to any signs of coming thunderstorm, it is noticed frequent lightning strikes the crest and the summit of Lyalver - in bad weather it is advised to be especially careful climbing this part of the route.
Prohibition for climbing from the Russian side 2018
The route clears from the winter snow in the late June and becomes comparably safe regarding the avalanche. The best time for climbing is July-August-September although the route is possible all the year
No limitations for camping