Steep Lines in the Georgian Caucasus


Chatyn-Tau SE Couloir and SW Face. 


Chatyn-Tau is a 4412 m high mountain in Svaneti, Georgian Caucasus. Three summits give it a distinctive, impressive shape, but largely stands in the shadow of its famous neighbour, Ushba (4710 m). Still, Chatyn-Tau holds some of the best steep-skiing lines in the Caucasus. One is the large Southeast-Couloir of the West Summit (4310 m), clearly visible from Mestia, and the other the elegant SW face. Since my first trip to Svaneti in 2010, both route had been on my mind. In May 2013 I could finally ski both lines with Trevor Hunt, despite the icy conditions in the SE couloir. These would be my last steep ski descents in the Caucasus.
Four years later, Miroslav Peťo and Maroš Červienka repeated the SE couloir. They rated the route at Traynard S5/S6, E3, 50-55° (>> Link to report).  The SW face has remained unrepeated.

>> Link to AAJ report




Bezengi Wall - One Day...

In June 2010, Boris Avdeev and I stood on top of Shkhara, a 5193 m high, challenging summit in the Caucasus. Moments later I started to what would be the first partial ski descent via the technical south pillar. Shkhara is the highest point of the Bezengi Wall, a 12 km long mountain massif largely above 4500 m along the Georgian-Russian border. Shkhara also marks the eastern end of the wall and is either the last or first summit of the Bezengi traverse – a traverse of the entire massif over multiple 4500-5000 m summits and one of the greatest alpine challenges in the Caucasus and Europe. A few weeks later, Boris writes to me - “one day, we have to do the traverse”. This day will never come. Boris perishes in an avalanche in April of 2012. We were to climb Janga-Tau (5058 m), a remote peak seldom climbed in the central part of the Bezengi Wall, a few weeks later. After two months in a mental hole, full of doubt about the sense of going to the mountains, and filled with a lack of motivation and self-discipline, I travelled to Georgia again. On 22 June 2012, I summit Janga-Tau with Robert Koschitzki. As I sit on the summit and watch Robert coming up, I look to great Shkhara rising behind him, where Boris and I stood two years earlier, and then look behind me to the remaining summits of the Bezengi wall to the West. I wonder if I will ever make the traverse. Maybe, one day...
(LFI Mastershot. Published on the Leica Fotografie International Blog, One Photo, One Story)


Janga-Tau with Shkhara in the background. June 2012. 
Boris in Shkhara high camp. 
Published in Alpinist 39.
Peter Schön approaching the summit of Shkhara, prior to the first ski descent. June 2010. 

Janga Tau (5058 m)

In 2005, I came first to the Caucasus of Georgia. The place captured me instantly like no other had before. Soon, the idea to climb and ski all three 5000m mountains of Georgia was born: Shkhara (5193 m), Janga-Tau (5058 m) and Mkinvartsveri (Kazbek, 5054 m). In 2006 and 2008, Deon Louw, Andreas Riesner and I made two first ski descents from the summit of Mkinvartsveri. In 2010, Boris Avdeev and I stood on the summit of Shkhara, the most difficult and dangerous of the three. Before I started the difficult ski descent from Shkhara, I saw in the distance the east flank of Janga-Tau emerging from the clouds, and I imagined skiing it one day. In June 2012 finally, after numerous adventurous trip to Caucasus, years of preparation and training came down to that one moment, as I reach the summit Janga-Tau with Robert Koschitzki, and then ski down the east / south face of Janga-Tau, finishing the project, with great Shkhara looming in the background….
(Published as Leica Fotografie International Photo Story)
 
Peter Schön skiing Janga-Tau
Robert Koschitzki on Janga-Tau
Janga-Tau south face

Ushba (4710 m)

The queen of the Caucasus. Never with skis but still an object of desire for many years. Summiting with Tato Nadiradze in the summer of 2012 was not just a summit, but the beginning of a life-long friendship like no other.

Boris Avdeev approaching Ushba (4710 m). June 2010
Tato Nadiradze in Ushba high camp. August 2012
Robert Koschitzki on Ushba Nord. June 2012