And this vertically – not walking!!! Heavy equipped we are climbing up the icefalls. We have been talking to Guga about ice climbing in Georgia and he recommended us two spots.
In the middle of January we went for the first time into the ice south of Gori. The waterfall impressed us as much as the abandoned valley, in which it is situated. We learned to know as well Jemal, a local farmer, which put an eye on Emma, while we were climbing in the ice. The first day we met Guga, who came together with Archil and we were climbing all together on a nice, Sunday afternoon. A warming fire and enough food made a very enjoyable climbing day. We helped each other, tried the different ice axes or different routes. As the ice is not very good for setting ice screws, we climbed all in toprope. The whole icefall was 60 m high and it took us a bit in the start, to trust everything, but then it started making fun. We already planned back home to go ice climbing during the winter season, so we brought all the gear with us.
Before our trip to Svaneti, Guga told us about an ice climbing competition, he wanted to organise and we told him, that we will help him. So we already had the date, when we had to be back from the mountains. We met a few days before the competition, collected firewood, put up tents, attaching advertisements on the ice, marking the route and collecting more wood for always having a fire for warming up. All the preparations were relaxed; the only problem we had, was with the cold, no sunshine was arriving into the valley and the first two days it has even been snowing. But we finished all in time and on Saturday morning, we were waiting for all the people coming from Tbilisi. Sven joined us as well, to get an idea, what we were talking all about. The people coming with the minibuses helped as well bringing all the food and equipment for cooking to the icefall, a 30 minutes walk. Good teamwork. And there were many participants and viewers (around 140 people).
Many courageous participants were there, around 70 % of them were for the first time in the ice. This was no problem for the atmosphere, all were happy, shouting encouragement to the others, we drank coffee and tea together and they even provided some food for all. The around 70 climbers went up one after another and either failed because of the time limit, or because of falling down – fortunately, all were climbing with toprope. We had many good talks with Georgians and got to know other two travellers. Mikel, a cyclist from Basque Country and Matthew, a backpacker from Southafrica, we all are friends now.
All together it was a cold day, but because of all the climbers and spectators an astonishing day. With all the helping hands, the organisation team left as well the same day, back to their warm houses.
We decided to stay one day longer with our new and old friends. The next day we were climbing with Matthew and Mikel and Sven cheered to us together with Clara. We all had fun and the evening we spent together in our camper with some beer, vine and Chacha and as well some good food.
The second ice climbing spot, which is close to Stephansminda (Kazbegi) in the mountains in Gveleti, we only got to know, when Guga organised another competition and we offered him again to lend a hand for the preparations. We helped them a bit and had good evenings together in the hostel. Unfortunately, we only had time for helping and testing out the ice- and drytooling route, as we had to go back to Tbilisi for some preparations of our next adventure „Schchara/Ushguli“ Basecamp. Although of the short time spending there, we decided to come back as soon as possible, as the conditions and the surrounding are very good for climbing.