Southeast of Mt. Elbrus, the Greater Caucasus has two low passes that face Svanetia - Donguz-Orun and Becho. This is where Mt. Donguz-Orun (Mountain over the Lake of Pigs) rises up with the Nakra-Tau (Cut Peak, 4,451 m) summit to the west and jagged ridge that starts from the top of Donguz mountain and moves Northeast, two rock pyramids - the Great and Small Kogutay (3,891 and 3,8?0 m). Two other simple and snow-covered ridges descend from the ridge towards the two passes.
Mt. Donguz-Orun (4468 m) is a spectacular massif covered with ice and snow that rises up over 1500 m in the heat of Central Caucasus in front of Elbrus with really magical, the most difficalt North face, coloured in pink during sunset time, which attracts and the same time refuses climbers, and is traversed by the wide glacier with its unmistakable "7" shape form, which overhanging in front of Baksan valley - central and most popular valley of Elbrus region.
It takes only one and a half hour to get to moraine near to footland of Donguz (it's short name) to set bivouac tent very close to the side of the north face, which is more then 1500 meters rise up, first climb along the center of the face by Michael Khergiani's rope team (5B) during four days to make ascent up and one day for descent! Almost all this North face could be climbed by ice.
The Route up Mt. Donguz-Orun (4,468 m, 2A)
The truly magical slope of Mt. Donguz-Orun, the most difficult one that both attracts and repels the best alpinists, is the northern face crossed by the unique glacier in the shape of an upside-down "7" the icefalls of which spill over the Baksanskoe gorge. The longest part of this glacier is called the "Italian couloir." It is said that an Italian mountaineer, after climbing up the normal route, was seen going down the glacier on his skis; but no one in Russia knows his name. The northern face of Mt. Donguz-Orun was climbed in 1953 by two mountaineers from Svanetia, M, Kherghiani and I. Kakhiani.
The mountain itself was first climbed in 1892 by G. Merzbacher, who took the route that starts off from the so-called Nakrinskiy gorge and winds along the snow-covered incline of the southern face, which is still considered the normal route (2A). The climb begins in Terskol, one of the highest villages in the Baksan river valley. Go up the path until you reach the Donguz-Orun refuge (I hour), then continue on the southern side up to the Nakrinskiy "gorge," which is a sort of pass that is accessible only from the northern side. Here there are three ridges with three small glaciers that have to be crossed; this is the longest and most demanding part of the route (.2-3 hours). Once over the ridges there is a snow covered plateau on the southern side of the mountain (in Svanetia) where you can set up camp. Then you climb up the snow slope until you reach the top (4-6 hours). In early summer, if there is still a lot of snow, there is the danger of avalanches, so it is a good idea to stay close to the rocks of the Nakra-Tau ridge. This is a longer way, and you should take along some pitons for safety's sake, but this route is much safer. In July you can climb directly up the middle of the slope without difficulty, while in August some crevasses might begin to open up, so you must take a rope with you. Crampons and an ice axe are needed in any case. The descent to Terksol takes five hours.