After the ski tour on Mount Kazbek at the end of May, we waited once more for a window in the weather to undertake new adventures. But we waited in vain; during May and June the Caucasus Mountains experience copious amounts of thunderstorms and rains. Nonetheless, we decided to travel to a region that is rarely visited, Chaukhi!
Chaukhi is a huge rock massif, one of the most interesting areas for mountaineering, trekking and just relaxing. It is also a great place for spring ski tours!
Some important information:
- almost all the slopes have a northern exposure
- the base camp height is 2600 m
- the highest point of the region is 3842 m
- the height difference for skiing ~ 1000 m and more.
And the highlight of the region is of course the couloirs, which are suited to every taste and colour!
Let’s return to our adventures.
The starting point of the trip is the village of Juta. Throughout winter the path is blocked by avalanches and snow, but it was now an ideal dirt track. It is evident that after the winter season it is not only cleared, but also thoroughly levelled.
With backpacks and equipment heavy on our shoulders, we stepped from summer into winter along the trekking trail. It took us less than 2 hours to get from the village to the base camp. Strangely enough, according to the weather forecasts there should have been a thunderstorm at five in the evening, but there were very few clouds in the sky. Eventually the storm came, but a little later. Under unending claps of thunder and flashes of lightning we tried to get some sleep, but we weren’t able to until about one in the morning.
The forecasts for June 5th promised seven hours of sunshine. In fact, there were only two. At about eight o’clock in the morning we approached the pass 3600 m under the summit of Asatiani. The snow was uniform, wet and dense. One hundred vertical meters through grass, and we already had our skis on and were skiing inside the cirque. There had once been a fairly large glacier here, but the active melting had done its job, and now the glacier was quite small and densely covered with stones and snow. The cirque is surrounded on all sides by steep rocky peaks and ridges.
During the ascent, we noticed at least three excellent couloirs. But they are already for next year.
By ski tour it was possible to reach the point of 3450 m. The pass itself we traversed on foot (it’s faster and more reliable). Around 11:00 we had already reached the starting point. As luck would have it, during the ascent the clouds gathered, and all our ideas of shooting the descents during sunny weather came to nothing. Nevertheless, it was a great descent with hundreds of stops to take photos, and by around 12:00 we were already back near our tent.
To sum up: we saw the most important things and will definitely return here with tents and camping stoves. Spring backcountry camp in Chaukhi is already planned for May 2020! Follow the program announcements (preliminary applications may be sent already). And yes, Chaukhi is an awesome place for spring backcountry camp!