Normal (North Ushba) from Russia

Normal (North Ushba) from Russia

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 43.12417°N / 42.65991°E
Additional Information Route Type: Mostly snow/ice climbing of moderate difficulty
Additional Information Time Required: A few days
Additional Information Difficulty: AD+
Sign the Climber's Log


The route begins from the base camp "Shkhelda", which it is accessible by a taxi from Nalchik or Mineral Waters. The track begins just in the camp and leads upwards by Shkhelda valley.

By this track walk up to the "Smile of Shkhelda" - picturesque place, overflow of the river and sandy beach, 1,5 hours of walking. Then by the left side (hereinafter all the sides are by direction of moving) to the large moraine and then to the glacier.
Taking a little to the right, to climb up on a glacier, and then turn to the left and cross it. Usually it takes 30-40 min. Then, it is possible to go up by the glacier, or to walk by moraine pocket to the left of the left lateral moraine - sometimes it is more convenient. To the turn of a glacier go up 3-4 hours.
Soon after turn it you have to come from the lateral moraine to a glacier and continue walking by its left side (usually the right part of a glacier is strongly torn, many crevices).
Passing the left lateral inflow of a glacier, continue moving by its main body upwards in the direction of peak Shurovski. Keeping close to the left edge of a glacier walk up to the "German bivouac" (2-3 hours) - good place for camping with the cleared places for tents.
Usually up to this place there is a track. The total gain of height for this day is 500m, on the average this part of the route is covered in 7-9 hours.

SP member Rybakov writes: the route is 4A, Russian grade. The correct name for this route is North-East Ridge.

Route Description

From the German bivouac the way up is seen by the Ushba Icefall - the most dangerous and unpredictable part of the route.
It is necessary to climb this icefall as soon as possible, before the snow melts.
To leave the camp it is recommended not later than 6 o'clock in the morning. Icefall is usually passed in 4-8 hours, depending on its conditions, the definite way in an icefall is not present.
It is necessary to be ready to overcome serious ice obstacles (snow bridges, vertical walls, wide crevices).
It is recommended to go roped, having all the necessary equipment ready for use. The basic danger of the icefall - dropping down the seracs and stone falls from the neighboring mountains Shkhelda and Shurovski - do keep closer to middle part of the glacier.
The faster you leave out the icefall, - the safer you will be, it is recommended even to reduce or to refuse of the breaks. Especially it is not recommended to camp in the icefall - it can become a fatal mistake.

After passing the icefall you come to the vast Ushba plateau. Continue your movement upwards (attention! To go only roped - closed crevices), taking little to the right in 30-40 min you'll reach the place of camping under the huge ice wall (GPS coordinates of the point: N 43 08.257’ , E 042 40,219’ , altitude 4000m). Do not camp close to the wall , - fall of the snow cornice is probable. I do not advise to move your camp to the "Pillow of Ushba" - top is quite reachable from camp on a plateau.

In the morning of the next day begin to climb by a flat slope of a glacier in the direction of the "Pillow of Ushba" distinctive wide snow ridge which is attached to a slope of Northern Ushba. Coming to the bergshrund, turn to the right and traverse the slope up to the snow bridge in the most right visible part of the "Pillow of Ushba".
Get over the bergshrund, then by not steep (40-45 degrees, belaying on the icescrews) snow-ice slope come to a flat top part of the "Pillow of Ushba" (1-1,5 hours).
After that, you will see the way ut to the rocks of Nastenko. The climbing ut to the rocks can be complicated by presence of the very hard ice (50m, 45-50 degrees).
Further, by an easy rocks (50-60 degrees) climb to the foot of the "Ushba snow board". Belaying point on the block of rock. Further, by a slope of average steepness (30-45 degrees) of "Ushba snow board" climb to the Island of rocks in the beginning of the long summit crest of Ushba (7-8 pitches, belaying either on screws, or on the iceaxe, or without any, depending on a conditions).
Belaying point on the block of rock. Then by a narrow ridge (Attantion! Cornices!), climb the Summit.
The belaying here is symbolical and it is necessary to be very careful on the crest. Technically, the crest is not very difficult, there is only one place where you really climb - the rocky wall in the middle part of the crest (4-5 meters of easy traverse, belaying on the pitons). The summit tour is behind a snow dome on the top, on the side of the "Saddle of Ushba".

Average time of an ascension - 6-8 hours. Descent by a way of assent. The base camp "Shkhelda" is reachable from the Ushba plateau for the one day.

Essential Gear

Rope, crampons, ice axes and ice screws. All camping gear is necessary.

Miscellaneous Info

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Additions and CorrectionsPost an Addition or Correction

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j0rgen - Mar 17, 2009 6:46 pm - Voted 10/10

Ok to climb from Georgian side

During the summer of 2008 a friend and I climbed the normal route to North Ushba from the Georgian side. The locals were very nice, and I could recommend it without hesitation. We might have been lucky, but I don't have that much faith in pure luck... Anyway. I've posted a video of the trip to my youtube-account. It's embeded underneath...

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