South Ushba: Gabriel Khergiani Route. "Gabrieli" (UIAA 5B)

Mountain Massive - Ushba

Ushba (Georgian: უშბა) is one of the most notable peaks of the Coucasus Mountains. It is located in the Svaneti (Region of Georgia), just south of the border with the Kabardino-Balkaria region of Russia. Although it does not rank in the 10 highest peaks of the range, Ushba is known as the "Matterhorn of the Caucasus" for its picturesque, spire-shaped double summit. Due to its steep profile and unstable weather, Ushba is considered by many climbers as the most difficult ascent in the Caucasus.

Ushba's south summit is slightly higher than its north summit, which has an elevation of 4,690 m (15,387 ft). The north summit was first climbed in 1888 by John Garford Cokklin and Ulrich Almer, while the south summit saw its first ascent in 1903 by a German-Swiss-Austrian expedition led by B. Rickmer-Rickmers.

Ushba Plateau is of one of the most interesting mountain climbing regions of Central Caucases. Getting to Ushba Plateau isdelf is quite Intereesting adventure indeed, since, due to global wrming. uppe part of Ushba Glacier became quite cracked and difficult to pass.

Best time to climb

The best time to climb theUshba is mid July to mid September.

How to get there

WAy to Ushba Plateau commenes at border guard's hat (6km from Maxeri vilage) and passing Becho Waterfalls, heads to the Hunter Overnight steps camp 1 (2367m.) to this point the way is well knoen and marked. The overnight stop is located at the top of thr most beautiful Becho Waterfall. The middle of th waterfall (2077m) can be reached by house. few years ago the tongue of Ushba Glacier almost reach the overnight stop, however, nowadays it has backed for quite a distance.

From the Hunter's Overnight stop we get to moraine and walk along it. in 2.00-2.30hours we get to gliecer. Theglacier turns in the (photo below).Wile ascendibg up the glacier, we shekk position ourseles on it's left side (in the direction of walking). Hare on thorough the snow andcrushed stone slope we shell get over the edge bulwark; Here we can find several excellent camping places. From the rock bulwark we shell continue in the  direction of glacier This segment of Ushba Glacier is extremely fraggmented; therefore, we shall move with caution and try to avid the cracks. In 3.00 hourse we will reach the upper plateau of Ushba Glacier, which ends with Shkhelda Crossing. At the left edge of the plateau there are overnight stop places.

From the upper plateau of Ushba Glacier we coutinue towards south, acrross the cracked slope coverd withsnow. in 1.00-1.30 hours we rech Ushba Plateau Camp 4 (4070m)

Route - South Ushba: Gabriel Khergiani Route. "Gabrieli" (UIAA 5B)

From the Guli (Hunting) camp climb up by a moraine, then cross the Guli glacier above the Icefall and approach the mouth of the wide snow couluar in the foot of the South crest (danger of stone fall). By this couluar - up 300m.
Then by a system of ledges mixed with a difficult short walls 120m up (loose stones!). Then climb the short vertical wall (25m, IV+) and come to a system of ledges by which climb to a bridge under the bastion of the South-West contrforce ot the South Ridge.
By a hard icy rocks climb up (50m, IV), then by not steep rock climb to a wide ledge (Bivouac is possible).

By a smooth rocks of moderate difficulty climb under the foot of the first rock belt. A vertical wall should be passed by its left side.
Cross the wide mouth of the snow couluar (falling stones!) climb up by its left side 200m
Leaving the mouth of the couluar turn to the left and by icy smooth rocks climb to a Southern crest. Camp is to be here on the wide (2-3m) basement of the crest.
By the crest 300m up to the foot of bastion, then by a hard rock face (25m, IV-) up to a ledge, and by it climb to the crest again.
By the crest up under a wall of the second rock belt of South Ushba
By rock face of moderate difficulty climb to a narrow ledge (25m, III).
Keeping to the right from the overhanging rocks climb up by a system of cracks (very hard climbing, rock is covered by thin ice) to a mouth of a steep ice couluar (100m, V-VI, aid climbing).
By this couluar 100m up, then to the right and by icy rocks (III - IV) climb the lower part of the narrow summit crest of Southern Ushba.
By this crest 500-600m (snow carnices!!) sometimes by easy rocks and sometimes by snow climb the Summit South Ushba. On the Summit there can be a carnice hanging to the direction of the Saddle.
Descent by a route through "Maseri Tooth "

Number of days 3 (From the abandoned Guli Village)
Vertical drop 2730m.
Maximum height 4700m.

Frome Camp 2 (4180m) in the direction of summit, in 30 meters the vertical wall of 50 meters hight stands (5b). on the top of thewall we get to little platporm and turning to left by 2-25 degrees enter the snow-rock couloir (inclination 60-70 degrees), from which, passing the little saddle, we get to the ridge. 400-500 meters long ridge (3a) leads us tothe summit. The ridge is divided into the terraces, at one of which we can observe the memorial plate.

The route is not equipped. Ropes, crampones, two technical ice axes, snow stakes, 10-15 pitons, hummers, bolts and drills, two-three icescrews. Do not forget to bring some loops you will leave on the rocks while abseiling down. Small tent for the intermediate camp. Camping gear and stores for 3-4 days climb.

First time this route has been climbed by Gabriel Khergiani team 12 September 1937. It took 5 days to climb this route for the fist climbers.


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