Tetnuldi – the Svanetian perfection

Visiting the most mountainous region of Georgia Svaneti one will be definitely marveled by the ideal snow pyramid of Tetnuldi proudly rising above the ancient land. An ascent of mount Tetnuldi becomes a unique attraction for novice and experienced climbers as there are routes of varying difficulty. However, heading up to the 4869 m majestic peak one should be well equipped and prepared to literally balancing on the edge of the precipice. However, the pains taken are undoubtedly reasonable – the summit offers you breathtaking views of the Greater Caucasus Range and surrounding alpine landscapes.

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Tetnuldi at a glimpse

According to the Svan legend, Tetnuldi is the bride and Ushba is the groom, they stand for a couple of beloveds who were never meant to be together. First climbed by the prominent British mountaineer and explorer of the Caucasus Douglas Freshfield in 1887 Tetnuldi is located on the western slopes of the impregnable Bezengi Wall 2 kilometers to the south from the mount Gestola and 22 kilometers to the west from the Svan capital Mestia. A number of glaciers flow down the mount Tetnuldi from its every face – those are Nageb, Adishi, Tsaner and Oish among the biggest. Tetnuldi itself is formed principally of ancient crystalline rocks but starting from 3000 m the mount is almost entirely covered by dazzling perpetual snows and ice. Summer is obviously the best season to plan your trip to Tetnuldi. The special equipment required to climb Tetnuldi is the same as for any medium difficulty snow summit (ropes, crampons, ice axes, ice screws etc.)

Climbing to Tetnuldi: the classic route

The conquest of niveous beauty starts from Mestia where you can rent a car straight to nearly 3000 m height. It should be noted that recently the way to get there was significantly simplified – one doesn’t need to include Adishi settlement to the route. The new Tetnuldi ski resort is expected to be finished soon so the road to the top lift is available. After that point, the way lies by the grass slopes on the left side of Inguri valley up to the first camp on the green plateau at 3100 m altitude. Overnight stop here is immensely picturesque – jagged cliffs around make you feel like in Patagonia. Following the left side of the valley, one ascends by the large moraine scree and relatively steep rocks to the Nageb pass at 3600 m height. There are plenty of places for tents here and the further way can be clearly overseen.

The classic and the easiest route (2B difficulty by UIAA classification) goes by the southwestern ridge of mount Tetnuldi. Here you cross Nageb glacier, pass the icefall and climb the wide snow slopes (in some places 45* steep) to the Tetnuldi “shoulder” at 4200 m – this is the last place available for bivouac. The summit attempt starts from the steep rocky ridge gradually turning into snowy one once called “long lovely ridge” by pioneer Mr. Freshfield. It is definitely lovely in terms of views around and received adrenaline, but one should be extremely careful here, as sheer drops from both sides and fearsome cornices combined with high wind leave no chance for mistake. Having overcome this risky trail and in case of favorable weather you will feel yourself almost on the top of the universe.

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Showplaces around

While in Svaneti an inspired traveler won’t limit himself only to the ascent of Tetnuldi. Svaneti, one of the most picturesque and authentic regions of Georgia, is famous primarily for its millennial towers, stunning mountain sceneries and freedom-loving proud people of Svans. In Mestia, the cultural and administrative center of the region, one will find plenty of ancient Svan buildings, Saint George Church with icons and relics from the XII century, Svaneti historic and ethnography museum, house-museum of outstanding Georgian alpinist Michael Khergiani. Moreover, the newly build Queen Tamar airport in Mestia gives you a possibility to reach Tbilisi less than in an hour. The magnificent village of Ushguli located at the bottom of mount Shkhara is listed as one of on the UNESCO World Heritage sites. It is also consideredthe most alpine settlement in Europe (2200 m). Such villages as Latali, Bescho, Adishi, Ipari and Kheshi are also of great interest for savagery and antiquity lovers.

Feel like adding the ascent of Tetnuldi to your next summer plans? Then there is no time for hesitations. Gather the adherents, sharpen your crampons, ensure the sturdiness of your ropes, keep yourself physically fit and inspired by the forthcoming great adventure. You will make this journey!

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© This site uses photos of Yegor Elgeshyn.