Day 1 : Mestia 1400m-Banguriani basecamp 3000m
After 6 days of non stop mountaineering and trekking in georgian Caucasus, Florian and I offered ourself a rest day in Mestia, visited the small town and didn’t carry any bagpacks !!! what a joy ! Our 4 swiss ran up and down 2000m higher in about 5 hours …
The weather forecast announced uncertain weather for the rest of the week except for tuesday. Our project over Ushba just slipped away from our mind because of weather and snow conditions ( heavy snow fall in high altitude). Therefore we had to find a new project. As we discussed with some locals we heard about banguriani summit which was supposed to be an easy one. On monday morning, we checked from the city and saw a ridge seen on
pictures from the days before. it looked interesting enough even if it was snow covered contrary to the past weeks.
After packing we starting from the town our trip to the basecamp and found a way through the forest and over a nice ridge. After 1600m hike u we arriveed at the foot of a glacier moraine and found a source as we supposed it from the map observation. I was actually quite tired after this long day following this dense week ! the sky was clear and we hoped for good weather !
Day 2 : 3000 m – 3837 m : complete traverse of banguriani from west to east !
As forecasted , we got lucky and armed with 2 ice axes, rock cams/nuts, piton and ice screws, we began our day at about 3 am with the aim to get to the summit and be sure to tackle with any difficulty we could encounter. We actually had NO IDEA about the possible path to follow ! After 30 minutes, we reached the pass, beginning our ridge and had some small climb up and down ( 3/4 in mixt conditions). We enjoyed the view over Ushba and Elbruz at sunrise ! The temperature was quite cold but not freezing cold and the rocks we climbed on were not too loose but not really good either. The snow covered ridge made an interesting atmosphere and the ascent was more comfortable than being on rock only but obviously more alpine !
Some part part of the ridge was a bit exposed climb (up and down) which was not easy because of the snow covering the rock. and the final wall was interesting in this massif face.
When we finally topped out and got for the time this day the sun, our body got warm again ! and when we arrived at one summit we thought to be the top, we noticed a small silhouette on the skyline … ! But who can it be ? no one was around yesterday… !
But yes it shall be … Pascal Egli !! Our team mate that started on the same day from the valley joining the summit from the easiest route (east side). He had to wait in the cold that we join his summit but when we met each other, the feelings were just over natural. Of course we knew he could come up here as we informed him of our plans. But nothing was sure and we didn’t glimpse any head lamp in the morning… We hugged warmly and our eyes were filled by thousands of stars !! We were so lucky to be all together at the top of our second summit on the only second good weather day !! And we got a good news as we were sure that the complete traverse was possible and easier than going back the same way we went up which would have been tricky.
We levelled this ridge (PD+/AD : fairly hard) more because it is long and some committing if you traverse the whole summit. the final ridge is really exposed and sharp on both sides with an amazing view. The wintery condition can also after the grade we propose as usually this summit is not snow covered.
Day 3 : Base camp to valley
When we arrived at our bascamp at around 1 pm, we were really exhausted and offered us a nap which turned to be 3 hours long under the sun hitting our tent ! We then decided to go down on next day unless the weather forecast was crap. Indeed when we woke up in the morning, snow and wind greeted us and we were forced to wait for better weather until noon. We rested, read and filmed some footages. When we felt some sun we jumped out from the tent and went down fast among the last snow falls. We tried a different way down and found our way through the forest without trail. After our arrival in Mestia we decided to began the next day a classic touristic tour over Georgia in order to recover our energy… We were really happy that we managed to reach this summit through this long ridge without knowing anything about the mountain. This was a really exploratory ascent from our sight. It is possible that some Russians already walked on this ridge but we don’t know anything about it.