I think you should add Cukrik's fantastic Ushba photos to the page.
This one for example.
Thanks for your correction, Corax, I attached the great photo you mentioned. Cheers, Alex
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.