After the visitors left, we spent one week with some works on the truck, cleaning the Black Flash and seeing our friends in Tbilisi. After that we moved with all our vehicles towards Chiatura, to a small village. The next visitor arrived in Kutaissi the same day, actually in the night. Hannes, who already visited us in Croatia, came for more than 3 weeks, enough time for some adventures.
As his flight landed at midnight, only Johannes went to pick him up. The two were all happy to see each other again and fully packed with all the luggage, they drove back to the house. A small, rudimentary cottage close to a climbing area. There, Theres and Matthew, who came with us from Tbilisi, were waiting. The first days we spent climbing and cooking nice dinners on the fire. After some days, more climbers and friends were coming, so at some point we were around 10 people.
On the first rainy day we decided to drive together with Maryam and Georgi to Kutaissi. The city not only offered us a nice time in a restaurant and on the market, we had to manage as well a police control, which Georgi handled easily. The weather didn't get any better so after some days hanging around, we were ready for a new project – Kazbeg. The 5000er, on which Hannes was already interested in back home, was the place to go. We checked the weather and got all our stuff ready.
Stop 1: Tbilisi. In Mikels flat we found a roof for us and we had enough time to go shopping for our trip. The weather forecast showed just a few good days, so we started already the following day to Stephansminda. The night we spent in a hostel, we cooked well and a lot. We were all looking forward for the new adventures. We got as well the last informations about the Bethlehem Hut and packed all our things, which we needed for the mountain.
At 7 am we got up, the last shower for the upcoming days, breakfast and last coffee for the following days. At 9 am we were ready at the parking spot, all with heavy luggage. As there was no snow laying the first kilometres, we even had to carry our skis, so every backpack was around 20 kg!! Walking was ok, but putting our skis on made our backpacks lighter. Walking up to the hut was no problem, there were only a few steep slopes to pass. After 8 hours and some breaks, we made the 1500 high metres and the 10 km long way to the Bethlehem hut. Especially Johannes had some problems on the last metres, as he already started a little bit ill to this trip.
After dinner and a few nice talks with other alpinists, we were happy about the warm sleeping bags and were all sleeping deeply. In Georgia there are not many mountain huts, so most of the peaks have to be done with the own power. Sleeping in the Bethlehem Hut means that you have to bring your own food, pans, cooker and sleeping bag.
The upcoming day we planned to go along the way of the peak for some acclimatisation. But already after a few metres, Johannes needed a break. After only 2 hours out of the bed he went back to it, as he was again having fever and headache. This time, he didn't reach the peak and as it is, Theres decided not to go to the peak but going down to the village with Johannes. Hannes found some new companions for the ascent and he was on the summit, the next day. Meanwhile Johannes and Theres skied in the other direction and could enjoy the good snow conditions. And with some pills it was not even a problem for Johannes.
After 2.5 hours we were back in Stephansminda, where we found a small guesthouse, and got some fresh vitamins and hot tea for Johannes. Hannes stayed another night on the hut, as they reached it quite late. The following day we were all together in the guesthouse and enjoyed in the evening the dinner from the landlady. As the weather was not the best, we decided to drive back to Tbilisi the next morning.
Back in Mikels flat we were relaxing and exploring Tbilisi. Johannes felt better and was happy, that he could show Hannes the not ending technical bazar. Together with Mikel they explored the bazar “Elijava” - where you can find all for handymen. Car and truck parts, all for building a house or even a boat, if you want to ;). The men explored as well Tbilisi at night, as Theres was laying ill in Mikels flat.
After Theres felt better and the weather was good, we decided to go to the climbing and boulder area of Birtvisi. With two cars, packed with crashpads and people, we drove there. Together with us came Mikel, Tamo, Maryam and Elene. We spent a nice day all together out of Tbilisi in the nature. Back in the city we found out, that we did not want to stay any longer there. So we decided to go for a few days to the Vashlovani national park. With our tents we intended to walk through the park and exploring the nature.
On the way to the park we got our permits and reached the camp of the rangers the same day. After a good dinner and a huge, big fire, we made some plans, where we could go walking the following day – in the end we made the plan not to have a plan and we just decided the rough direction. After the breakfast we walked towards the decided direction. On paths and sometimes over fields we were walking in the direction of the boarder of Azerbaijan. Our goal was now the highest peak we were able to see and we walked in this direction. As we didn't want to pass the boarder and we didn't expect a military checkpoint, we did not think about our permits or passports – an error. Suddenly, a few kilometres before the real boarder we noticed a military checkpoint of the Georgian military, which we had to walk through. The soldiers asked for our passports and the permit, but we had nothing on us. As they were not speaking English and we not Georgian and even with the little Russian we knew, it didn't help, they had to wake up their only English speaking colleague. After some calls and questions about our car, they fortunately let us pass. The national park is beautiful, small canyons, a lot of sandstone and small paths everywhere ready for getting explored. And if you are lucky, you get the chance to see turtles, snakes, owls, lynx. With the last one we were not successful, as expected. The following day we explored the end of the park, which we reached after an adventurous drive with our car.
After 3 days we drove back to Chiatura, back to Emma and back to the cosy climbing house. After our arrival Maryam came soon too and together we spent some nice days with relaxing, climbing and good meals. After 3 weeks it was time to say goodbye to Hannes. The time was running too fast...
Thank you Hannes for your visit and your surprises. We had a good time and next time we will be all together on the peak!!!