Home page Planetmountain.com
The line of the new route on Mount Ushba climbed by Archil Badriashvili and Giorgi Tepnadze, September 2020
Photo by Archil Badriashvili archive
Ushba, on the lower section of the NW Face (Archil Badriashvili, Giorgi Tepnadze, 09/2020)
Photo by Archil Badriashvili archive
Archil Badriashvili and Giorgi Tepnadze on the summit of Mount Ushba
Photo by Archil Badriashvili archive
Ailama SW Face and the line climbed by Archil Badriashvili, Giorgi Tepnadze, Levan Lashkarashvili
Photo by Archil Badriashvili archive
INFO / links & info:
    Ailama 4547m (4560 GPS)
    SW face, new route
    2000, upper 850 - new ground
    ED; Caucasian 5B; free-climb. 2-4 September
    Two bivouacs, one during descent (West/NW ridge)
    Archil Badriashvili, Giorgi Tepnadze, Levan Lashkarashvili

    Ushba 4710m South Summit
    NW Wall direct, new route
    1700, ED2; Caucasus 6A/B
    UIAA VI/VII; A4
    10-14 Sept ascent/descent
    Climbing down the SE face; Gabrieli Route (TD/+)
    Archil Badriashvili; Giorgi Tepnadze

Ushba & Ailama, difficult new Georgian climbs in the Caucasus by Archil Badriashvili, Giorgi Tepnadze, Levan Lashkarashvili

In September 2020 Georgian mountaineers made a 16-day trip to Svaneti in Central Caucasus and completed two new routes. The first, by Archil Badriashvili, Giorgi Tepnadze and Levan Lashkarashvili, up the SW Face of Ailama (4,547m), the second by Badriashvili and Tepnadze up the NW Face of Ushba. Badriashvili reports.

The first aim of our 16-day September expedition was Mt. Ailama, the highest peak of the Lower Svaneti, a very rarely visited, extremely beautiful region of the Caucasus. During the 1960-80s the SW Face of Mt. Ailama was popular among experienced mountaineers, since then though only a handful of ascents have been made. A long drive is followed by a short hike, at the end of which one is greeted by a 2000 meter face.

My mother had spent four summer seasons working as a doctor in the famous "Ailama" alpine training camp and I’d heard stories about it since my early childhood. I'd always wondered why a great peak like this one just stood there, untouched, for so many years. After closing the famous camp and the arsenic mines in the late 80’s, almost every trace of human beings has been washed away from the area.

For this long-awaited ascent, my climbing partner Giorgi Tepnadze and I asked Levan Lashkarashvili to join us. A friend of ours from a younger generation, he’s also a member of the Mountain Conditioning Program for young alpinists, run by Giorgi and myself for the United Federation of Georgian Mountain (UFGM) platform.

The ascent on Ailama was mostly on rock, the first half on very loose, although technically easier ground. Our new line started at about half-height, when all of a sudden the rock becomes relatively solid. The rock sections were led all free, while the seconds climbed most sections free, too, past predominantly grade V/V+ terrain. Falling rock on one of the loose IV pitches took away Levan’s nail and some skin around his little finger, but after some minimalistic first aid he performed amazingly well with nine fingers, too!

After sleeping above the last crux we started to simul-climb, where ice replaced rock… On that day, on September the 4th, we reached the summit in perfect weather and sat there for 1 ½ hours. A day and a half later brought us to a refreshing natural water pool at the bottom of the mountain.

The climb’s complexity is enriched by a hard descent. This is considered “problematic” due to objective dangers and the difficult route-finding from the NW ridge down to the SE slopes of the Ailama glacier, which is melting and where only wild mountain goats can really feel at home. Shortly after our return to base camp, we started our drive towards Mt. Ushba in Upper Svaneti.

After two days of heavy rain in the Becho valley we were ready to hit the trail again. Levan left Svaneti to climb something else, and this we were joined by Zurab (my father) and Gezi, a famous mountain guide. We, close friends, went to the base of the mountain on the 8th of September. Giorgi and myself were willing to try and fulfil our old dream: climb a new route on the Crown of the Caucasus, a unique mountain, famous for its beauty and harsh character.

The ascent started in the morning from 2,800m on September the 10th, with headlamps on as we climbed through a short but chopped glacier; then a long session of simul-climbing. After breaching the first band of rock we stopped at the best two-man bivy place around, at around 4000; it was midday and we had a direct look at the object of our desire - the central NW Face. It stood there, stunningly, there a golden hue at sunset.

Day two involved 9 pitches of fragile ice and mixed climbing, including sections of powerful, or maybe power-sapping, moves. Considering the rock quality I arranged a 5-point anchor) and stood there as my partner took the lead and ventured into the compact granite, vertical wall.

We spent two more days on a wall. With no portaledge and only a small amount of water, we had to fight for every meter. There’s just one single, tiny ledge on the entire wall, and that’s where we slept. This somewhat overhanging wall proved to be an intense experience. At midnight on the 14th September, after climbing for 22 hours non-stop, we completed the crux - frozen, tired but happy. The short 3-hour nap was followed by our wide grins in the morning.

Giorgi’s boots were so worn out that they refused to have crampons attach to them. Careful simul-climbing on mixed terrain brought us to the summit. Our joy was accompanied by a bright horizon and remarkable weather. Our family and friends down in base camp and in Tbilisi were happy, too, to hear the news.

The descent via the opposite SE face (1,700 Gabrieli route TD+ Caucasus 5A) took seven hours, plus the trek down through the Guli valley. After five days we reunited again with the others. As they weren’t asleep, there was no need to postpone celebrating with food and wine!

by Archil Badriashvili

Ailama 4547m (4560 GPS)
SW face, new route
2000, upper 850 - new ground
ED; Caucasian 5B; free-climb. 2-4 September
Two bivouacs, one during descent (West/NW ridge)
Archil Badriashvili, Giorgi Tepnadze, Levan Lashkarashvili

Ushba 4710m South Summit
NW Wall direct, new route
1700, ED2; Caucasus 6A/B
UIAA VI/VII; A4
10-14 Sept ascent/descent
Climbing down the SE face; Gabrieli Route (TD/+)
Archil Badriashvili; Giorgi Tepnadze

Share


NEWS / Related news:
Mount Shkhara in Georgia: new route, first winter ascent video by Archil Badriashvili, Giorgi Tepnadze
08.12.2019
Mount Shkhara in Georgia: new route, first winter ascent video by Archil Badriashvili, Giorgi Tepnadze
The video documenting the new route and first winter ascent of Mt. Shkhara (5,203 m) in Georgia, carried out in February 2018 by Archil Badriashvili and Giorgi Tepnadze.
Larkya Main Himalayan first ascent video
05.08.2018
Larkya Main Himalayan first ascent video
The video of the first ascent of Larkya Main, the 6425m high mountain in the Himalaya ascended in 2017 by Georgian mountaineers Giorgi Tepnadze, Bakar Gelashvili and Archil Badriashvili.
Shkhara South Face, new route and first winter ascent in Caucasus by Archil Badriashvili, Giorgi Tepnadze
03.04.2018
Shkhara South Face, new route and first winter ascent in Caucasus by Archil Badriashvili, Giorgi Tepnadze
In February 2018 Georgian mountaineers Archil Badriashvili and Giorgi Tepnadze climbed alpine style for 8 days to establish a new route up Mt. Shkhara (5,203 m), Georgia. In doing so they also made the first winter ascent of the mountain’s 2300 m high South Face.
Larkya Main, Georgians claim first ascent in Himalaya
16.11.2017
Larkya Main, Georgians claim first ascent in Himalaya
Georgian mountaineers Giorgi Tepnadze, Bakar Gelashvili and Archil Badriashvili have established a new route up the SE Face of Larkya Main. It is also the first ascent of this 6425m high mountain in the Himalaya.
Mt. Ushba: Slovakians score first ski descent in Georgian Caucasus
15.11.2017
Mt. Ushba: Slovakians score first ski descent in Georgian Caucasus
Last May and June Slovakian alpinists Miroslav Peťo and Maroš Červienka carried out a series of difficult ski descents in the Caucasus massif in Georgia: the SW Ridge of Tetnuldi (4858 m), the SE couloir of Chatyn Tau (4412 m) and, above all, the SE couloir of Ushba North summit (4698 m).

SEARCH news

ZONE

CATEGORY

Full text search

AUTHOR

EXPO / Products
EXPO / Company News
Planetmountain.com logo
Planetmountain.com is updated daily: news, rock climbing, walks, trekking, alpinism, freeride skiing, ski mountaineering, snowboarding and ice climbing on the mountains worldwide. Furthermore, climbing techniques explained, gear & book reviews, expert advice, mountain photography, interviews and competition reports.
NEWSLETTER

Subscriber to receive the weekly newsletter with all the latest news from planetmountain.com

CLASSIFIEDS
Recent Comments Ice
  • Distensione
    Via sportiva molto bella, dalla linea logica, in ambiente su ...
    2017-09-14 / Michele Lucchini
  • L'uomo Volante
    Il 10 giugno 2017, insieme all'amico Michele, decidiamo di r ...
    2017-07-12 / Enrico Maioni
  • Gallo George
    Il 16 luglio 2016, invogliati dalla relazione, ci siamo avve ...
    2017-07-12 / Enrico Maioni
  • All-in
    Francesco Salvaterra e Filippo Mosca 27 gennaio 2017, probab ...
    2017-02-02 / Francesco Salvaterra