OverviewNote: As of July 22 2013, Border Guards have closed off access to Cheget Peak. I will update the details of situation as soon as I hear more.
Message from Pilgrim Tours:
There are many questions about the meaning and reason of the extending border zone to Cheget.
There is no special reason. Formally Cheget always was within the border zone. The border post initially was right near the upper lift station. After that for some years the post was abandoned and it was allowed to hike there although possibility of closing that place always existed.
We suppose closing Cheget is a part of entire policy about local border areas.
Every year border rules become more and more strict in the area. Five years ago border permit may be made within a couple of weeks locally, than a month in Moscow, then 2, now no any term advised at all and 2 month minimum with no any guarantee.
Which additional reason may be?
Authorities do not want you there (South of Baksan valley) with or without permit and that's it.
No official prohibition because formally permit may be received but virtually that is prohibition because no tourist company wishes to include that area into their programs.
The Caucasus are one of the most rugged and spectacular mountain ranges in the world. Cheget Peak is only a class-2 scramble, but that's not true of the surrounding peaks. The peak is often used as an acclimatization peak for Mount Elbrus. Although the peak is dwarfed by its spectacular neighbors, Cheget Peak is a great little climb in itself and the views of the really spectacular and rugged peaks in the area are fantastic. The views of Elbrus are great too. Chances are, most "postcard views" of Elbrus you see on the internet or in books were taken from Cheget Peak.
Although an incredible viewpoint, Cheget Peak itself is more of a false summit of Mount Cheget than a mountain all in itself. Even so, it’s a worthwhile climb and has some great views of Elbrus and Donguzoran. While the vast majority of people stop at Cheget Peak, experienced climbers can continue from the summit of Cheget Peak along the ridge to the summit of Mount Cheget. This is a technical mixed snow and rock climb.
The Peaks of Cheget
SP member Sergey
helped with the following information about the Cheget Peaks:
Cheget in Balkarian means dark or black. In Elbrus region there are three mountains having such name; Cheget-Tau-Chana, Cheget-Kara and Donguzorun-Gitche-Cheget-Kara-Bashy or Maliy (Small) Donguzorun (which is the peak featured on this page).
On this the ski resort was created on the lower slopes, and skiers started to call this mountain Cheget. As the climbing object; the main Mount Cheget, wasn't so popular as Cheget-Tau and Cheget-Kara. Routes to these two summits are considered classical in this area. As Elbrus ascents became more popular Cheget Peak appeared to be very convenient for acclimatization especially when you are short of time and its popularity sharply grew. Then the track along the ridge to one of gendarmes was laid. And the gendarme got the name Peak Cheget
or Cheget Peak
. There are 5 routes to M. Donguzorun (Cheget Mountain) 3761 m:
1891, Mercbaher, From South, 1B
1938 , Grechenin, East Ridge , 2A
1960, Zarichniyk, Western Ridge, 2B
(Unknown date), Glushkov, Northern. Ridge, 2A
1960, Zarichniyk, SW Wall, 3A
As stated, the easiest way to travel is through a travel agency. Without one, travel is confusing, to say the least.
Typically the travel/transportation goes like this:
Fly to Mineralnye Vody (Nalchik), usually from Moscow, and from there, travel by bus to the Baksan Valley. There are usually 4-8 buses a day headed for Terskol, but it is highly recommended that you make transportation arrangements ahead of time. This is usually easy to arrange. Traveling from Moscow to Baksan Valley usually takes an entire day.
The trailhead to Cheget Peak is actually at Cheget Village. Any local will be able to point you to the village. The trailhead is actually right at the base of the ski lifts right next to the village and behind the Hotel Cheget. You can't miss it.
Cheget Peak as seen from a road in Baksan Valley looking to the direction of Cheget/Terskol/Azau.
There appears to be many challenging routes on the mountain, but just about everyone seems to take the Cheget Villiage Route
. Furthermore, most climbers actually cheat and ride the ski lifts to the 2750 meter (9022 feet) level. There once was a lift to 3005 meters (9859 feet), but it wasn't working as of 2003. The lifts run from 9 am to 4 pm. Purist can follow the steep trail underneath the ski lifts to the top terminal.
Breifly put (see the route page for more detail): From the top of the lift, follow the well used trail (an old service road) up the slopes. Most of the route is easy along the trail, but right at the end it turns in to a class-2 scramble. Before mid-July you should have an ice axe.
If you have done any other routes on the mountain, please post the information.
Elbrus from Cheget Peak.
Russia is not exactly the easiest country in the world to travel through, at least not for Westerners. The visa regulations and checkpoints can be a real pain.
The easiest way to arrange a trip is go through a travel agency. There are several travel agencies to choose from, but it's much better to go through a Russian agency as a company from the USA or Europe will usually charge several times more for the same service.
To obtain a visa you will have to have a formal invitation from a tour company in Russia. You won't save much (if any at all) money by trying to do it on your own anyway. One reliable and reasonable priced tour company is Pilgrim Tours
There are several other little permits, fees, and registrations you're supposed to obtain as well, such as OVIR registration, local fee, and sometimes a border guard reservation, depending on where you're traveling from.
See the main Elbrus Page
for political updates. I try to keep them up to date, but things change fast!
Views on the way to Cheget Peak
When To Climb
June through September is the normal climbing season. Before July, you will need an ice axe for sure. Bad weather can come at any time, so be prepared.
Cheget Peak from teh trailhead.
There are a few campsites around Cheget, but almost everyone goes on a guided tour and stays in a lodge.
No mountain cams or weather links are currently available. The weather forecast is called in to the lodges daily, and is usually posted in the mountaineering store in Baksan Valley.