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Georgia Svaneti

Georgia Svaneti

We were supposed to be making a ski traverse of Corsica but we had to accept the inevitable. There wasn’t and wasn’t going to be, enough snow this season. An alternative had to be found.

One week before departure I was scratching my head thinking of somewhere that would tick most of the boxes. I was in regular communication with a Russian friend who was off to Georgia as were Faffing Jim and some other skiers I know. Initially I wasn’t interested as I’d been before but then the idea of the Svaneti came to mind…..majestic Ushba, the south face of Shkara, Georgia’s highest mountain and fascinating, lost world villages with their defensive towers. One day’s organisation later and we were up and running.

Many things make these ski trips memorable, be it the scenery, the travel, the encounters we have, the companionship, adversity and sometimes even the skiing. Svaneti skiing was pretty good on the whole, we had a lot of laughs and the Georgians we met were without exception, welcoming and kind towards us. Special thanks to Shako and Richard for their help and guidance during our stay. Magnificent spring snow skiing to the ancient villages of Adishi and Ushguli was the highlight of the trip.

Road travel is arguably the most dangerous thing we do and the rough and terrifically exposed roads we drove in two trusty Mitsubishi Delica’s left a lasting impression. The terrain is a nightmare for any civil engineer. Cuttings through mountains of unstable debris with frequent massif landslides gave incentive to keep moving. Slowly though. The 43 kilometres from Mestia to Ushguli took us 3 ½ hours so an average of 12kph. Fast enough!

The other big danger we face is avalanche and we had an encounter too close for comfort with a small one just below the Guli Pass. This was a reminder  that we must never drop our guard nor lose sight of the perpetual goal of returning safely  to the valley at the end of every day.

Ironically during our entire time in Georgia it snowed in Corsica…..! No regrets. Had we been there we would have achieved nothing.


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