Kazbek Expedition Day 1

Stepantsminda To Betlemi Hut – 3600m

The First Section: Stepantsminda to Altihut

I have to admit, I felt a bit anxious before going on this trip, the first time I ever felt that way before going on an adventure. Because of the COVID situation, I haven’t travelled internationally for more than a year, now I was in a foreign country, on my own, far away from home, trying to climb my first, two 5000m peaks. What was my normal a couple of years ago, now felt extraordinary, a bit crazy even. But I decided to push through those feelings, ignore them and allow myself some time to get back to the life I loved so much, before the pandemic started, a life of travelling and extraordinary, of chasing dreams and never stop moving.

After spending the first night in Stepandsminda, it was time to get my gear ready and head to the mountains. Because my climbing partner, whom I havn’t never met before, already was at the Meteo Base Camp at 3600m, I joined a group of climbers who were heading in the same direction.

The track started easy yet steep uphill, with a rather adventurous drive to the base, following some rivers πŸ™‚
The views of the surrounding glaciers of the southern Caucasus were amazing, the fresh mountain air felt so good after spending two days of travelling in rather warm weather. Everything’s inspiring in places like this.

We stopped for a short break at Altihut 3014, around halfway, shortly before crossing the first glacier.

The second part of the hike to base camp started at 3000m asl and took us up to 3600m. We followed a small river, which was growing bigger, the further we approached the edge of the mighty glacier.

Horses in the Caucasus at Mount Kazbek.
View of the Caucasus mountain range and Stepantsminda
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The Second Section: Altihut to Betlemi Hut

It was sometimes a bit tricky to cross it, the water level got high at some locations, the currents were strong. It was all about jumping from rock to rock, not trying to fall. We took a short break, before continuing the hike on the glacier. Once we started on the ice, I immediately realized that this glacier was not at all comparable to any glaciers in the Alps. It was full of crevasses, rivers, streams. It was bigger, unpredictable, hostile yet so attracting. I couldn’t wait to explore it’s hidden treasures. A beautiful wonderland. My love to the mountains was growing, with every step, with every meter of altitude gain.

Waterfalls on the way from Altihut to Betlemi Hut.
Kazbek Glacier on the way to Betlemi Hut
Kazbek Glacier.
Crevasses on the Glacier

After arriving at the Meteo Base Camp at 3600m I could immediately feel the altitude change. It wasn’t an intense feeling, rather a minor headache which became stronger the less I moved. I tried to drink plenty and add some minerals like Calcium to the water, because the melted glacier water usually lacks them.
After a quick lunch, I met with my climbing partner Shota to discuss the next days. He immediately could tell that I wasn’t feeling so well and forced me to do a hike. I wasn’t really sure about that, the weather didn’t look too good, also I was dizzy and had a headache. Why should I go for a hike under these circumstances, I thought.

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The Third Section: Betlemi Hut to Betlemi Church

Anyways, I agreed, and we started a couple of hours climb up a steep ridge. The volcanic rocks partially slipped away under my feet, it was difficult to walk and I had to sit every now and then on the steep slope to get my heart rate back to normal. Due to the sudden change in altitude, my usually low heart rate increased with every minor movement, the exhausting hike got my pulse up to 163bpm sometimes.


After reaching 4000m we stoped at a small, metal chapel, Betlemi Church. The views were incredible, when the clouds coverage cleared every now and then, I could see as far as Stepandsminda. Only now, I realized how big that glacier actually was. The biggest I’ve ever seen, crevasses everywhere.
We spent about an hour at altitude before we headed back, shortly before the thunderstorm hit. I felt immediately better, my headache was gone, I was motivated and ready for the next days.

Betlemi Church on Mount Kazbek.
Betlemi Church
Kazbegi Glacier.
First part of the Kazbegi Glacier
Lednik Ortsveri Glacier.
Lednik Ortsveri Glacier
Views from Lednis Ortsveri Glacier.
The first glacier on the way to Betlemi Hut

β†’  Continue Reading: Day 2: Betlemi Hut to High Camp, 4500m


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Kazbek – Day 4, Betlemi Hut to Stepantsminda Vastfreedom

When you're on the summit, you're only halfway there, you still have to get back safely. After spending some time on top of Mount Kazbek, we were returning back to the town of Stepantsminda.
  1. Kazbek – Day 4, Betlemi Hut to Stepantsminda
  2. Kazbek – Day 3, High Camp to Summit, 5054m
  3. Kazbek – Day 2, Betlemi Hut to High Camp, 4500m
  4. Kazbek – Day 1, Stepantsminda to Betlemi Hut
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12 responses to “Kazbek Expedition Day 1”

  1. […] Day 1: Stepantsminda to Betlemi Hut, 3600m […]

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  2. That’s a really nice trip report and congrats for this wonderful experience!
    Also, most of your photos are really stunning in such a great scenery.
    Congrats and greetings from Greece!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for this lovely comment 😊 Greece is amazing. I’ve climbed Mount Olympus a year ago, it was a wonderful experience as well!
      Greetings from Austria ✌️

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      1. You are welcome and it’s great to know you have also been on Mt. Olympus!

        I don’t know which route you took towards the muses plateau, but I am sure you had some lovely views from Mytikas peak.

        Well done.

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  3. […] Trip Report Climbing Guide Gear List […]

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  4. […] Trip Report Climbing Guide Gear List […]

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  5. Wow – beautiful content and photos – I’m unaware of great mountainous landscape in this part of the world. Thanks. You seem to be a mountain lover πŸ™‚ Come to Pakistan and let me know. Bliss.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Are you from Pakistan? It’s been on my list since forever! The mountains are my favorite place, I will let you know when I go to Pakistan. Take care, dear πŸ™‚

      Like

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