For me, March 22nd marked the end of a fickle winter season on the north side of the Alps. I had to cancel my planned trip to Georgia just three days before our departure due to an annoying cold. But the weather forecasts continued to be extremely promising, so I decided to visit Caucasus even though one of my clients decided not to join us. “Never stop exploring" was the overriding thought running through my head.
Robi Rot joined me on this exciting journey and we enjoyed a week full of unforgettable stories. If you’d like to experience a true adventure, you should visit Caucasus during winter. We headed for Mestia, the center of upper Caucasus with Ushba dominating its surroundings. The village is nestled between mountains with unlimited ski touring potential, but with one serious danger: a relatively high avalanche risk. When we arrived, the conditions down in the valleys were spring-like. We had a whole week of excellent ski touring in perfect weather, all the while enjoying the beautiful views of the Caucasus Mountains. We explored a new area every day and I couldn’t stop marveling at the deep valleys and the steep mountains.
I was especially fascinated by the countless villages, where the houses of wealthier families all have towers built next to them. They stirred my imagination and immediately reminded me of stories from The Lord of the Rings. We finished one of our ski tours at a village full of cows and their dung, which looked like something out of the Middle Ages. There was even more manure than in the Bavarian Allgau, which is famous for its cows and non-stop fertilization. On more than one occasion we encountered huge Caucasian Shepherds, who didn't greet us too kindly.
The Caucasian people are one with the mountains and they’re all extremely strong, so I wouldn't want to come into conflict with them. They’re all very hospitable, however, and more than willing to communicate, even though most of them speak only Russian. The women make all kinds of great dishes and instant, over-processed food hasn’t reached this part of the world. Meals are composed of delicious soups, salads, spiced meat, fruit, and kefir. The beers are also very good, and Georgia is renowned for its excellent wine, which is produced in the lower parts of the country.
The driver who drove us back to the airport obviously thought he was a Formula 1 racer and all of the passengers had their foot on the invisible brake pedal. A drive which usually takes five hours was over in three and a half and he was deeply honored when I told him he drove like Schumacher. Before returning home, I still had time to snick in a visit to the incredible Prometheus Karst cave.
The Georgian Caucasus is a splendid mixture of influences from the Middle Ages, the Soviet times, and the modern Georgia. It’s a blend of failed socialism, ancient patriarchalism, and transitional capitalism, and the major connection between me and this part of the world are its beautiful mountains.
These are some of my impressions from this trip; check out the photos for more. I’m going back next year and you’re more than welcome to join me. Contact me if you’d like to experience a pristine adventure.