Page 39 - SA Mountain Issue 64
P. 39

                                  the colourful bethlemi hut and mount kazbek. Photo mandy ramSden
hiking up the gergeti glacier to the bethlemi hut. Photo matthew holt
 We met up with the rest of our team, a British-run commercial expedition. There were 11 of us in total, including the leader, Neal, a Lancastrian mountain guide, addicted to tea; Al, a former international athlete now trying out his legs in the hills; the Grants, a gung-ho, ex-military Scottish couple; Petr, a Russian guide who spoke English with a languid BBC accent and smoked a Sherlock Holmes pipe; and Timur, a big wall climber from Siberia who, with square shoulders and dreadlocks, looked more like a Samoan rugby player.
Highway, which ran besides foaming rivers, over winding mountain passes, beneath hilltop castles and through herds of cows grazing on bridges (we never discovered why). The journey was enlivened by the exuberant local driving, which involved much waving of arms, blasting of horns and overtaking on blind corners.
served up on the terrace by Mrs Nazi, plus the views of Mount Kazbek. Some say the peak looks like Prometheus hunched over in torment, but from Mrs Nazi’s terrace it looked more like a plum pudding dusted with icing sugar, from which someone had sneaked a few spoonfuls.
We took two days wending our way by minibus along the Georgian Military
After some acclimatisation hikes along the way, we reached Kazbegi, a sprawling, lively town,setat1750metresandsurroundedby mountains. Facilities at our unfortunately- named Nazi Guest House were sparse, with just one washbasin between us, but there was compensation in the shashlik banquets
The next morning, we crammed into two jeeps to drive up to the trailhead via a steep, jolting dirt road which got especially interesting when we encountered oncoming traf c. Though the lift spared us a 6-kilometre uphill slog with packs, we disembarked feeling like we’d been put through a tumble dryer. >>
heading up towards the col. Photo mandy ramSden
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