Big strides for Georgian ski mountaineering on Mt Kazbek


The UIAA Youth Commission is supporting the Georgian mountaineering federation in its efforts to set up a youth programme.

At the request of the Mountaineering and Climbing Association of Georgia (MCAG) and its President Zurab Kutchava, the Youth Commission sent Swiss mountain guide Daniel Oberli on an exploratory mission to look at what is needed in terms of technical skills and physical standards, areas where training is needed and how to build a syllabus for youth leader education. Why? While Georgia has a long mountaineering tradition, the climbers wish to develop a national youth programme and eventually hold a UIAA international youth meet including ski mountaineering, and what’s more build infrastructure to support it.

“This is just the start,” says UIAA Youth Commission President Anne Arran. “From initial reports, I anticipate it will take a couple of years to take this ARISF-supported project to completion; but feel privileged to be there at the start of creating a new kind of opportunity for young climbers. We need equipment support from manufacturers and/or mountaineers to take the next step. There will be continuing training before the next international visit.” Zurab felt the training was very useful and is looking forward to the next visit.

Brief report from Daniel Oberli, International Federation of Mountain Guides Association (IFMGA)

“On the 18th of December we met together in Tbilisi centre and drove to northern Caucasus by taxi-bus. Most of the participants live in the capital. In Kazbegi, close to the Russian border, we organised our material for the next few days. Everybody packed their bags and additional food. Each bag weighed around 25kg.

After a two-hour walk by skis towards Mt. Kazbek we arrived at our campsite at approximately 2600m and stayed there for three days of training. We worked on the basics and I showed the participants how they can move up and down very easily and safely on skis; it’s very important, when your backpacks are heavy! We discussed winter conditions including mountain hazards and rescue systems. As a first step I showed them avalanche transmitters and search systems, and we looked at various scenarios.

Finally we learnt about proper behaviour on a glacier, when a rope is needed and how to walk up and ski down with a rope. That was quite funny. We also enjoyed daily camp life where we talked a lot about everything, but mostly about mountains… and we became friends, which is to be expected when there are four people to a tent!

After four cold and windy days we went back to Kazbegi, enjoyed a typical and very delicious Georgian dinner and drove back to Tbilisi. On the 22nd we had talks at Zura’s house and created a first syllabus to be used during the next visit. Local television was interested and made a short report for the news. After a farewell party proving how excellent Georgian hospitality is, I flew back to Switzerland with a lot of new experiences and new knowledge about local traditions, and many stories to tell.”