On 13 of June, 2016 WildGuru guides team (Sergey Ichenets, Balitsky Anton) and RMGA guide Victor Zaharin made a descent along the western wall of Tetnuld.
Approximated route difficulty TD— 5.2 E2 V
Tetnuld is the peak on the Bezengi Wall in Upper Svaneti. Height — 4858 m. In Georgian, its name means «White Mountain». A classic climbing route 2B on the South-West Ridge leads to the top and there are some new ones: along the western wall 4A and 4B on the left side of the western wall.
This year was very snowy in Georgia. In Gudauri we started to ride at the beginning of November 2015 and continued until mid-May 2016. In Svaneti the snowfalls were even greater: in mid-June, it was possible to descend to an altitude of 2500 m and at altitudes of 3,600 and above fresh winter snow could be found.
After complex lines in Tuyuk-Su we were preparing for summer programs in Georgia. The idea to ride mountain Tetnuld arose after visiting Svaneti during car travel. It was decided to adjust our plans and to leave from hot Tbilisi for the snow again.
Few moments to collect our stuff and we jumped into the car — and after 8 hours we were already on the pass Ugiri getting ready for overnight. Summer reigned here. Everything around was green, bloomed, and smelled. However, we could see the white giant ahead – our goal.
The climbing route was planned 2B and 4B for the descent.
The car managed to get us to 2700 m — the beginning of the second cable car of the new ski resort Tetnuld. From this point, skitour started.
Snow at 11:00 was a little wet so that made moving through steep parts easier. At 14:00 we reached the ascension couloir. The snow was already very wet, and it was decided to wait for the next day, for safety reasons. We put up a camp at 3100 m. and checked the snow depth with a probe — 3 m. 20 cm – completely drowned in the snow and did not reach the stones. To be sure, we checked back in three places, the result was the same. The remaining time before sleep was spent in the heat, occasional short snowfalls, drinking tea, and chatting.
We climbed to 3700 m campsite and used the remaining daylight hours to climb to 4000 meters and make the first run. The snow was wet and stocked to the skis, but a good slope degree allowed us to have a nice ride on the glacier.
We woke up at 5 am. Our group had to bootpack to the ridge — the night was cold, and the snow turned into hard firn.
The glacier had much more crevasses, comparing to the previous year: the cracks had become huge, and an easy 2B route may soon become unavailable if the narrow snow bridge collapses.
Sometimes we had to climb by the belay.
At around 4100m on the icefall, it was decided to split into riders group and photograph. After all, as the saying goes, if there are no photos – there has been no ride = 🙂
Anton went down to film; Sergei with Victor reached 4400 meters and found a good starting place.
The average steepness of the descent wall: 50° with parts of up to 60°.
Elevation: 400 m.
West orientation of the slope did not allow the snow to limp early, as a result, the icy slope was covered with firn. Secure rollout after passing the wall – straight down. To the left or to the right – icefalls with big drops. Skipping the exit is incompatible with life.
Sergei Ichenets started first on his splitboard. The first couple of turns were easy, but then the ride became more complicated: 10 cm of sugar snow lied on the ice, and on top of that — 5 cm crust. When it broke the snow underneath slid down with sluffs, almost without stopping. We had to use ice axes.
Victor Zaharin started next. Skier had an easier time – using steep skiing skills Victor managed to loose height safely. In the end, guys had a 60-degree icy/firn section. Both made it straight, dropped from bergschrund, and got to a relatively safe section of the glacier.
Another 300 meters elevation loss on the glacier, a little drop fest on the seracs — and we were in a tent.
On this day the descent from the top of a climbing route 4A was planned. Officially there is no 4A route on Tetnuld, but we found a description of this track from a climbing team, which had passed the line and assessed it as 4A. In our opinion, climbing up this route is almost equal to suicide: its route has many overhanging icefalls, but the descent here seems quite logical.
In the morning, we began a bit earlier: at 4:00. We used tracks from yesterday climb to get on the ridge, there we got into storm wind. Lenticular clouds could be seen over the Elbrus and Ushba — a sign of a strong wind, and the peak of Tetnuld trapped another cloud. We assessed the chances to be killed on the descent along the ridge in this hurricane and decided to go down by ascension route.
From Camp (3700 m) to the car (2700 m) our team had a nice ride – the top section had hard firn and the lower one soft, a bit of wet snow.
According to our estimates, the complexity of the line: TD— 5.2 E2 V.
We did not find any information about skiing along this route on the web. Is it first run it or not? Probably, yes. However, it is not so important.
The main idea is about Svaneti being the perfect place to ride in June, and that is what our team is going to do in 2017 in the format of the advanced Camp.
You can also read the article about WildGuru’s guides first descents in Kazakhstan: Tuyuk-Su 2016: New lines of Tien-Shan.