Climbing Mount Ushba North Summit is truly an exceptional experience in Georgia. Certain mountains in the world really need no answer to the question “why should I climb it?” That is the world famous Mount Ushba, located in the Svaneti region of Georgia. It is truly the most legendary and epic mountain in history, embodying both heroism and tragedy. It’s coined the “Matterhorn of the Caucasus.” To climb North Ushba proves to be no easy achievement. During the Soviet Union time Mount Ushba was the birthplace of technical mountaineering in the region, which would in turn become a local heroic feat. Locals would gather at the villages, greeting the Mount Ushba climbers with feasts and celebrations. Old locals named the double summited mountain as the “wretched place,” indicating its strange and intimidating presence. A prestige quickly developed around climbing Mount Ushba, making it a dream to climb for every alpinist. This mountain represents a profound history and offers a magnificent viewpoint to the surrounding highest peaks in the Central Caucasus.
In addition to its history and significance, Mount Ushba’s remarkable beauty and incredible shape produce a deep magnetism that draws climbers in from all different corners of the globe. Mount Ushba radiates an aura of superiority, leaving a deep impact in the psyche of spectators. It’s two horned figure pointing to the sky almost signifies the shape of a crescent moon, making it one of the most unique and most beautiful mountains in the world.
The first attempted ascent to Climb North Ushba was a group led by Englishman Douglas Freshfield. Their attempt however, was unsuccessful. The first successful climb on North Ushba was John Cokkin in 1988. After more than a decade, in 1903, a group of Europeans (Austrian, German, and Swiss) led by B. Rickmers successfully climbed the South summit.
Our guides at The Alpine Project are deeply inspired by Mount Ushba and have made regular climbs on the most challenging routes of Mount Ushba, and completing the fastest ascents in single days. As athletes and IFMGA/GMGA mountain guides climbing this mountain regularly, we will provide the most safe and professional climb experience for you.
There is two summits of Mount Ushba, North (4700m) and South (4710m). Both have their respectable difficulties. This tour will take you through the classical route to reach the North Summit, which is the less difficult of the two. We also offer tours to climb South Ushba, the more difficult route.
The ideal time for climbing Mount Ushba North Route is from July-September. In this time frame, the weather proves to be more stable. However, this mountain has a microclimate and attracts bad weather more frequently than others. This is a large aspect of what makes this mountain difficult.
The classical route to climb North Summit is a technical alpine snow and ice climb. The climb proves to be an extremely demanding climb, requiring prior experience in mountaineering and ice climbing. To make this climb on North Ushba, you should be able to climb 60 degree ice and you should be in top shape physically. In addition, you should be acclimatized before the climb. (For this, we can offer a climb Mt. Tetnuldi in Svaneti prior to your Ushba climb.) This is a very wild climb, there is no huts. Because of this we will be making the camps and carrying the equipment.
Fitness Levels recommended
You must have an extremely good fitness level with experience climbing expert to advanced level mountains.
Driver meets you in airport (TBS or KUT) and transports you to hotel in arrival city (Tbilisi or Kutaisi). Check in and rest for the evening. If you prefer to go directly to Svaneti (depending on your travel time and arrival time), driver will transport you to Svaneti straight. (5 hours driving from Kutaisi, 9 hours driving from Tbilisi). If travel and weather conditions allow it, there is an option to fly from Tbilisi to Svaneti. In this case, we will plan accordingly.
Early breakfast in hotel. Driver will meet you in hotel and transfer you to Mestia, Svaneti. Check in to hotel where you will meet your IFMGA/GMGA certified local guide. You will have an introduction and briefing about the plan for the days ahead. Weather conditions will be discussed at this point also. The guide will check to make sure you have all adequate equipment and clothing for climbing Mt. Ushba. This day will be reserved for renting any necessary equipment. Rest for the night (Breakfast included)
Early breakfast. Check out of hotel. The driver will take you from the hotel with the guide to the village Mazari, where the trekking begins. We will load the horses with our equipment and head to Base Camp 1 at 2800m, which will take about 5 hours. Set up the basecamp dinner and rest. (Breakfast, lunch box, dinner)
Mestia altitude: 1500m
Mazeri altitude: 1650m
Base Camp altitude: 2800m
Vertical gain trekking: 1150m
Travel time trekking: 5-6 hours
Early breakfast. We will prepare our bags with climbing and camping gear and proceed to Camp 2 at 4,000m on the Ushba plateau. During the route, we will rope in and cross a tricky glacier with crampons. Set up the camp, dinner and rest. (Breakfast, dinner)
Base Camp altitude: 2800m
Camp 1 altitude: 4000m
Vertical gain climbing: 1200m
Travel time climbing: 7-8 hours
After breakfast, we will continue climbing the glacier and reach Camp 3 at 4250m. Set up camp, dinner, and rest. This is the camp we will base ourselves from for the summit attack. We will reach the camp early so there will be time for acclimatization. (Breakfast, dinner)
Camp 1 altitude: 4000m
Camp 2 altitude: 4250m
Vertical gain climbing: 250m
Travel time climbing: 2 hours
We will wake before sunrise, have breakfast, and prepare for the summit attack. Start the climb and reach summit. In total, with descent, we will need about 10-12 hours. Reach the camp and rest. (Breakfast, dinner)
Camp 3 altitude: 4000m
Mt. Ushba North Summit: 4690m
Vertical gain climbing: 690m
Travel time climbing: 6-7 hours to summit
Descent time: 4-5 hours
Reserve day in case of bad weather on summit day. If we are unable to leave the camp and attack the summit, we will spend this day resting in the camp and reserving our energy to summit the next day.
After breakfast, pack up Camp 3 and descend down to Camp 1 and setup. The descent will take 6-7 hours. Rest and relax. (Breakfast, dinner)
Descend down to Mazeri village where driver will meet us and take us to Mestia hotel. Check in. (Breakfast)
Departure day to Tbilisi or Kutaisi airport. Driver will transport you from Mestia hotel. (Breakfast)
Harness – Mountaineering or climbing harness with 2 screw karabiners and 60cm sling. Harness should be able to fit with your mountaineering jackets on.
Helmet – Standard climbing helmet.
Alpine Climbing Boots – Shoes should be waterproof, insulated, and with a solid sole. Preferably, semi-automatic or automatic crampons should fit the boot. (B2 or B3 crampons). The boots should be designed for alpine mountaineering and ice climbing.
Overboots / Gaiters – Gaiters are essential to avoid getting the boots wet. Protecting you from getting wet and from hitting your trousers with crampons.
Crampons – Crampons should be automatic or semi-automatic. Designed for ice climbing. 12 point steel with anti-balling, which is preventing snow sticking.
Ice Axe – with adze and sharpened picks. 1 pair needed
Trekking Poles – Telescopic to suit your size and for different terrain.
Main luggage bag (up to 80L) – All gear can be packed here and extra items which is not needed on trekking day. The horse will take this directly to the basecamp as to alleviate weight from your other bag.
Backpack (35-50L) – This size bag is recommended because larger is unnecessary and leads to excess weight. Recommended to bring a waterproof cover in case of rain. This bag will be on your back during trekking to the basecamp and for the summit.
Headlamp – Fit to size.
Eye protection – sunglasses for mountaineering that fit face snug and tight. Should be 3-4th category
Waterproof Shell Jacket (1)
Down Jacket (1) – Light-medium weight preferably. Hooded or without hood is fine.
Mid Layer Jacket (1) – Fleece Jacket to put on top of thermal layer.
Thermal Base Layer Shirt (1) – Can be a synthetic or wool layer. Should be long sleeve, preferably ¼ or ½ zipper for ventilation.
Waterproof Shell Trousers (1 pair)
Thermal Base Layer Underwear/Leggings ( 1pair) – Can be synthetic or wool.
Beanie hat, buff, balaclava – Gear to keep the head and face warm.
Water Proof Insulated Gloves or Mittens – 1 Pair. For the summit
Trekking Gloves – 1 pair. Should be warm, but not bulky. Only for trekking and on the base camp.
Socks – Lightweight and medium weight mountaineering wool socks. (3 pairs)
Base Camp Slippers – Comfortable slippers for tent and basecamp wear.
Comfortable trekking trousers (1 pairs) – For leisure wear in base camp and for trekking
Basecamp kit and toiletries – Includes toothpaste and toothbrush. Deodorant. Soap. Baby wipes or wet napkins. If you wear contact lenses, bring lenses solution, contact holder, and bring extra lenses incase of losing a pair.
Microfiber towel – Used for drying hands and face. Body size is not needed, as there is no shower at the basecamp.
Mess kit – Bowl and utensils for base camp and climbing meals
Sleeping bag – Suitable for -15 Degrees – -10 Degrees Celsius
Sleeping mat / pad – Rollable or inflatable.
Reusable water bottle – Up to 1 liter. Water bottle should be light and with you to keep you hydrated on trekking days.
Thermos – Up to 1 liter. Thermos will be used in base camp and taking to the summit, which will keep liquids warm.
50+ SPF Sun protection – SPF for lips and face.
Batteries – Extra batteries for headlamp.
Any personal medication
Equipment for climbing and crevice rescue
First Aid Kit
Basecamp shelter (tents)