Going to the mountains

After our visitors left us, we joined Martina and Sven, who were standing on a petrol station on a main road in Tbilisi. We now had time to get in touch with climbing and ski touring people, for planning our stay here in Georgia. With Guga (the climbing pioneer in Georgia), we spent two evening in different climbing halls and even went climbing outdoor in the botanical garden. The climbing scene is not very big in Georgia, according to Guga because Georgians are lazy. We don't think that this is the main reason, young climbers are around, but motivated people are missing for teaching them.

Klettern in Tbilisi, das Seil läuft im Toprope um ein altes Stahlrohr und unten wird an einem alten Stahlrohr gesichert
Climbing in the botanical garden in Tbilisi; climbing toprope, the rope is going around a steel tube and at the bottom it is going around another steel tube…

After one week we definitely had enough from the city, all the small reparations on Emma were made and we finally wanted to go to the mountains, although it hasn’t been snowing for around one month.
On the way to Mestia we stopped at an ice fall, where we spent one day climbing with Guga and Archil and on the second day, four young locals came to make 3 kg!! Shashlik and drank some nice house wine with it. We even got a new friend, Jemal our neighbour, who put an eye on our track while we were climbing.

In einem Seitental dieses Tales liegt der Wasserfall gut versteckt
Well hidden in a side valley is the icefall
Archil beim Klettern
Archil during climbing
Guga sichert auf Georgisch
Guga belaying in the Georgian way

On the third day we drove to Kutaisi, where we met the french families in the natural reserve of Sataplia. We stayed for two nights, but unfortunately the weather wasn't too good for staying outside. We spent most of the time in our truck, sewing, crocheting and listening to audio books. Then we went back on our way to Mestia and as it has been raining it meant fresh snow in the mountains. After 6 hours driving, we stopped 60 km before Mestia, 700 m of altitude were still in front of us. On the road was not only snow laying, there were as well many smaller and bigger rocks.

Es gab auch Stellen mit grösseren Gesteinsbrocken
There were stretches with even bigger pieces of rock

The next day we went further, and soon the road became snowy, still we didn't put the snow chains on. But then we had to stop for an oncoming car in a curve and Emma slid backwards. In the inside of the curve we now had to put the chains on, but somehow they didn't want to fit. After one hour we were ready. Slowly we reached Mestia after lunchtime and parked next to the park of the village and on opposite of the police. We stayed there for around one week and had it very close to our favourite restaurant “Laila”, the bakery and the different mini markets. During this time we went skitouring a few times in direction of Hatsvali, went to the ski resort of Tetnuldi and in the evening out for some hot drinks.

Einer von den vielen Wehrtürmen in Mestia
One of the many defence towers in Mestia
Der gleiche Wehrturm nachts
The same tower during the night
Auf dem Dorfplatz in Mestia, bei einem Spaziergang
On the village square in Mestia, during a walk
Dorf Hestia
Village of Mestia

We had a good time, there was enough snow on the north faces but after one week we felt like changing our place. In opposite or the airport we found a quiet place (there were only airplanes, when the weather was good and then only 2 per day. From this place, which was as well liked by the local cows (daily meeting point including the use of Emma as a scratch brush, we went touring three times.

Jeden Tag kamen sie vorbei...
Every day they came along…

In this time it was very cold, down to – 27 degrees, what we noticed as well inside of Emma (and during this period, a friend of us was climbing on mount Schchara 5193 m of altitude, we don't want to know how cold they had. Then we spent another night in Mestia and then drove to Etseri. As we started early in the morning, the diesel in our tank flocked out, although they told us in the petrol station, that it was good for - 30 degrees. Luckily we had another tank, in which we had a mix of petrol and diesel. On the way we saw a frontal collision (only with material damage). The Georgians drive fast as well on icy and snowy roads, sometimes on the opposite lane and if there is coming one of the few cars...

Hätten nur alle so einen gut ausgerüsteten UAZ...
If just everybody would have such a well equipped UAZ…
Der letzte Blick auf den Ushba
The last view on mount Ushba

In Etseri we found a place directly on the main road, on which our neighbours guided us in. The place wasn't too bad, only a few cars were passing and we had some chats with locals and like real Georgians we invited for a Chacha-round.

Unser Standplatz in Etseri
Our sleeping place in Etseri
Etseri von oben her gesehen
Etseri looking from the top

We made as well some ski tours, which always started and ended in the village, where the children marvelled about our touring skis and we about their wooden skis and fast rides down to the main road.

Michail und Irakli mit ihrem Schlitten
Michail and Irakli with their sleighs
Auf die Schuhgrösse angepasste Skis
Skis adapted to the size of the feet
Georgischer Skilift; die Jungs fuhren dann in einem Höllen Tempo runter, kreuzten die Hauptstrasse und über eine Schanze ging es nach Hause
Georgian ski lift; the boys rode incredible fast downhill, crossed the main road without stopping and over a jump they went back home

One day we came back early, so we were walking through the village and were invited by a family. We first got coffee and sweets and in the end a nice dinner with fresh Chatschapuri. So we got the chance to have a look inside a big, svaneti house. As we didn't have anything with us, we brought them some fresh cake the following day.

Wir liefen von unten her durchs Dorf...
We started walking through the village from the bottom…
...bestaunten die verschieden Häuser...
…gazing at the different type of houses…
...und Bewohner
…and inhabitants
Dieser schöne Kaukasische Schäferhund begrüsste uns
This nice caucasian shepherd welcomed us
Dann bakte die Mamma frische Chatschapuris für uns alle
The mother made fresh Chatschapuris for all of us
Die kleinste der Familie
The women of the family
Der Stall inkl. einem riesigen Lager an Kartoffel
The stable with all the different animals

The day we nearly went up to the peak, we found some men standing in the village and observing our tracks and another group with binoculars, which was still on the mountain.. Further down we met other men looking with the binoculars and even on the following day people asked us, if we have been on the mountain, a real happening for the locals.
Then the time came to say goodbye to the mountains, we planned to meet Martina and Sven in Kutaisi, where we were looking forward washing our clothes and enjoying warmer temperatures.
Driving downwards wasn't that easy, we didn't want to drive too long with our chains on asphalt, so we might have taken them off a little bit too early, so there were some slippery moments. One of the tunnels, in which we knew there was some asphalt missing, was criminal to drive. From the ceiling, huge icicles were hanging down and the roadway was totally icy and had some big holes in it. But we passed it with some sliding and we were very happy, when we finally reached the plains of Zugdidi, where we stopped on the first possible parking space for the night.

Kühe gabs auch überall auf den Strassen
Cows were as well everywhere on the streets

The next day we went to the market in Zugdidi, bought some stocks and drove further towards Kutaisi. Shortly before the town, we wanted to sleep around 100 m away from the main road and as we were in between our baking session (we tried the first time to make Chatschapuri ourselves), the police came to tell that the place is unsafe. As the policemen still were there after 15 minutes, although we told them to leave the place in around one hour, we decided to tidy up and move away. As soon as they stopped following us, we took the next turn and slept in front of some block of flats. After sleeping in, we started driving towards Kutaisi. On the parking space of the ruins of Geguti we met Martina and Sven and we had some smaller reparations to do, among other things repairing a tire and finding out our problem with the diesel. After two days of repairing and checking, Emma was ready for new adventures. We stayed a few more days in Kutaisi, went shopping on the big market, cooked some jams, went walking and enjoyed the lazy life.

Besichtigung der Ruinen von Gegutin, auf wessen Parkplatz wir für eine Woche standen
Visiting the ruins of Geguti, on which parking space we spent one week
Reparaturen und trocknen der Schneeketten war angesagt
Some smaller repairs and drying the snow chains
Alles wird kontrolliert
Everything had to be checked, for what we tipped the cab over
Zur Belohnung gab es das Lieblingsessen von Johannes, Chatschapuri Atscharuli
As a reward, we got Johannes favourite food, Chatschapuri Adscharuli

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