This description was received from Peter Schön, one of the well known international guides in the Caucasus, as earlier published on fatlab.com. A long, varied and very rewarding tour into the heart of the Caucasus mountains, past the base of great Ushba (4710 m) and Chatyn-Tau (4412 m). The skiing on the Chaaladi glacier is one of the best runs in the area.
Start you way up at the end of Mestia. A dirt road leads of quite a ways, until you reach open terrain at the Cloud Base Hut (2260 m). You can stay there overnight – check with https://www.facebook.com/cloudbasehut about availability and sleeping bags.
Head on over mellow terrain to the famous Koruldi lakes (2740 m). To there and back is a popular ski tour on its own, but you would miss the best skiing and views. Beyond the lakes, the terrain steepens and smart route choices are needed, as you enter avalanche terrain. A final steep traverse (bring ski crampons!) brings you to the top of a col (3310 m) – here immense views to Ushba (4710 m) and Chatyn-Tau open up.
Click on your skis and start the fantastic run down the glacier. The first pitch is steep – over 35 degrees. Several variations in the upper section exist, so the super fit ones can re-ascent after the initial pitch. The middle section is quite flat, and pushing may be needed – but “skins on” is usually not required unless the snow is really sticky.
There are crevasse sections on the glacier, especially near the toe of the glacier at 2600 m – so glacier travel skills, having harnesses on and a rope in the backpack are mandatory. Sufficient snow coverage on the glacier to ski safely is usually from February on.
After the glacier a few more good turns can be made, before you get to a rather flat valley floor. Pay attention to the large slopes on the skier`s left – they see a lot of sun on clear afternoon days and are a hazard for avalanches. So try to travel through that not too late in the day.
Traveling through the valley can be slow, depending on snow conditions and whether a track is in.
Organize your transport back up front – several drivers are available in Mestia. Check with the Georgian Mountain Guide Office in Mestia – https://www.facebook.com/georgiaguideoffice/ about recent conditions and organizing a driver.