Chatyn-Tau West (4310 m) SW flank

One of the most beautiful steep skiing lines in the Caucasus

Ski Touring Severe

Distance
19 km
Ascent
2.7 km
Descent
2.7 km
Duration
1 day +
Low Point
1.7 km
High Point
4.3 km
Gradient
41˚
VIEW ON MAP
Chatyn-Tau West (4310 m) SW flank Map

Description

Svaneti is increasingly popular for tourists from across the world. Rightfully so - spectacular landscapes, ancient cultures and history, culinary experiences and legendary hospitality make for a special experience, and a certain magic surrounds the place.

Some may be fortunate to get a glimpse of Ushba (4710 m) and Chatyn-Tau (4412 m) from the top of the Chaaladi glacier. A keen skier's eye will spot the SW flank of Chatyn-Tau, a massive flank just made for skiing. But beware: the face itself may look doable for a quite lot of folks but the approach, glaciated environment, scale and remoteness make this a serious undertaking for the most seasoned and experienced ski mountaineers only.

The route's first reported ski descent was done in May 2013 by Canadian Trevor Hunt and Austrian Peter Schön, the latter a part-time resident in Georgia.

The access to this route is relatively fast. From the end of the road from Mestia a summer trail leads to the base of the Chaaladi glacier.

The glacier itself is accessed via the looker's left. There is some substantial overhead avalanche risk on several stretches, so a warm afternoon is not the best time to cover this part.

Follow the moraines for a bit; after the route turns into SW direction it may be preferable to go on the glacier itself. Note that there are crevasses, and roping up is recommended. The first camp can be anywhere on the glacier where there is no overhead hazard.

As the glacier and route turn north, the glacier becomes substantially more crevassed, and the best route will vary from year to year. Use you own judgement - the line on the map is approximate only.

As you approach the face, bergschrunds and seracs need to be tackled. Again, conditions vary from year to year, so does the best route through this. Often the looker's right side of the face will offer the best options. Once you are on the face, it is more straight-forward, with front-pointing up a ca. 40-45 degree slope all the way to the summit (4310 m). A rock ridge (Russian grade 3A) leads to to the main summit (4412 m), for those with higher alpinistic aspirations.

The descent follows the same route, with the absolutely magnificant backdrop of Ushba (4710 m). The SW exposition means there's high potential for ice - assess this carefully on the way up! As with any solar-aspect big slope, timing is crucial.

This is a big slope in an area with close to zero avalanche-related information. There is no cell-phone coverage on the Chaaladi glacier, but on the peak there is by the provider: MagTi. Satellite radio as emergency communication is advised.

Difficulty

Severe

Steep skiing at 38-45 degrees. This requires very good technique and the risk of falling has serious consequences.

Extreme Exposure (E4)

4 out of 4

In case of a fall, the skier faces certain death.

Best time to visit

April, May

Features

  • Face
  • Alpine
  • Ski Mountaineering

Equipment required

  • Rope
  • Skins
  • Ice axe
  • Crampons
  • Glacier kit

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area