Mkinvartsveri / Kazbek (5054 m)

 First Ski Descents and the Road of Dreams

Mkinvartsveri. February 2019
Storm on Mkinvartsveri. April 2006. Published in Alpinist 37.
Mkinvartsveri NE side, prior to first ski descent. May
On the Japharidze ridge. May 2013.
Trevor Hunt, Canadian steep-skiing lege
February 2019. It is a stormy winter day at 3000 m in the Georgian Caucasus. A dog looks at me as if he knows me as if I have been here before. In the background, Mkinvartsveri (5054 m) rises, the sun shining on the upper slopes of the southeast face. My obsession with the Caucasus was born somewhere on that peak, pulling me back to Georgia every year since 2005, drawn by the allure of skiing its elegant southeast face direct and other steep, unskied lines. But it wasn't just the mountains; it was the mix of rugged peaks, rich culture, boundless hospitality, and the vibrant, evolving city of Tbilisi.

In 2008, I finally skied the SE face direct (50°+) with Andi Riesner and several other new steep routes. In May 2013, I returned to  ski the last major unskied line on Mkinvartsveri. Trevor Hunt, a Canadian steep skiing legend, and I ascent the rarely climbed Japharidze ridge and N-NE face to the summit in less than three days. Together with Georgian climbers a few weeks before us, we are the first people to climb this route in over 50 years  - and the first ones to ski it, from summit to the remote Abano glacier. This descent was the fourth steep line I skied in the course of seven years. An article can be found at >>Mountain Life.

In 2017, I returned to the area with three Ukrainian friends, climbing Mkinvartsveri`s neighbour peak Maili Khok (4600 m). Some refer to the route along its ridge and onwards as the "Road of Dreams". It was a memorable climb during a time when the mountains of the Caucasus seemed to have no borders. Little did we know about what would follow and how plans and dreams would just vanish overnight.

Maili-Khok. 2017.