There are very few places in the world where you can share a shot of moonshine with monks in an isolated ridgetop monastery and ski epic powder turns on the way back down. This tour is popular, and for good reason.
Start from the church in the village Kvemo Mleta, just across the bridge after the switchbacks when coming down from Gudauri. Walk directly uphill and then to the left to go around the town, and follow the trail up the valley. Unless you’re there in the early morning after a big storm, you’ll have a skin track to follow.
The trail soon enters a steep forested section and then flattens out a bit as you reach the top of the forest. About 15 minutes after the forest ends, there is a small cross which makes a good resting point if it’s not too windy. From there, the monastery is clearly visible on the ridge, so head straight towards it, carving switchbacks into the final steep incline.
Make sure to stop and say hello to the monks before continuing. They’ll invite you for tea and, if you’re lucky, chacha (local moonshine). A large and very heavy chain inside the monastery is said to give you good luck if you wear it around your neck and make a wish.
From the monastery, continue ascending the ridge to the west. Choose your drop-in point where you find a gap in the trees and enjoy the untracked snow, keeping left to ride down one ridge west of where you ascended.
Another descent option is to continue traversing the ridge even further southwest past the forested section and descend through the clearing just after a large cliff, going straight down into the valley. This is only an option in very stable snow conditions as the valley is a giant terrain trap. Both the ridge and valley routes end at the village Zemo Mleta, from where you can ski back to Kvemo Mleta.