Mt. Ushba group - "Witches' Sabbath" (map).

More foto of Ushba

Climbing Mt. Ushba

peak Schurovskogo

(In the foto to the left) Mt. Ushba, seen from the Elbrus's slopes in a spyglass.
This is really the most magic mountain. Its singular and rather disturbing shape, the grandiosity of its faces, and its alpinist history have made a myth of the mountain that bears the name of Witches' Sabbath. The northern peak (4,694 m) was first conquered in 1888 by John Garford Cockin together with his guide Ulrich Almer; but ten attempts were needed before the southern peak (4,710 m) could be climbed in 1930 by five of the twelve members of an expedition that included German, Swiss and Austrian mountain climbers led by V. Rickmer Rickmers. What the English called the "Matterhorn of the Caucasus" had become a sort of obsession for the Austrian alpinist. He had even gone so far as to found a Caucasus Club in Vienna, and with the membership fees collected enough money to organise a six-week expedition that got him to the top of Mt. Ushba. Today there are about fifty routes on Mt. Ushba, ten of which are rated 6A and thirteen 5B. The Zerkalo (Mirror) route on the north-eastern face of the northern peak is legendary; it was first traced by M. Kherghiani, who went up the entire overhanging part in a free climb - about one-third of the 1,200 m rock face (6A). The Kustovskiy route on the pillar of South Ushba (6B) is equally famous. peak Schurovskogo
(In the foto to the right) Its Honour Ushba peak - "The Witches' Sabath".
Mt. Ushba group from West side.
For ice climbing could be recommended Kolomitsev's route (6A) by North-Western face, which presents 1500 m steep ice face. In extreme style it is possible to climb up and down within one day, but classically it is necessary to spend one night in the middle of the face in snow cave or tent.
My solo climbing upon Mt. Ushba together with my brother.


Ushbinskoe plateau is situated on 4000 meters, covered with deep glacier and surrounded by the summits of Shchurovskiy, Chatin, Malaya Ushba and Ushba. From south-west side it's limited by jagged crest of Shkhelda East - so called "Pila" ("the Saw"). Plateau glacier makes steep escape down through the narrow gates formed by Shchurovskiy south-west face and Shkhelda "Pila" north face, forming digged Ushba icefall and then flowing into Shkhelda glacier beneath. It's easy to be crossed during June - July and is broken with crevasses during other time.
From Ushba plateau the view on grand double Ushba group is opening in all its splendour. North Ushba peak (4694 m) presents the only easy classical route by the north crest (4 A) which takes for climbing only one day for up and down. Snow ice route demands rope, crampons, ice-axe and some ice screws. All other routes are difficult and takes 2-4-6 days, including the descent.

Chatyn and Ushba

Normal route up the Northern Peak of Mt. Ushba (4,694 m, 4A).
(In the foto to the right) Mt. Ushba, seen from the summit of peak Schurovskiy, with normal route.
The normal route up the northern peak of Mt. Ushba goes up the shoulder of snow known as Podushka (Pillow) and then proceeds along the long ice and snow northern ridge the end of which is "bordered" by a double cornice. The starting point is the Ushba plateau. As we have seen with the ascent of Mt. Shchurovskogo, access to this plateau is gained via the difficult Ushba icefall, where you will bivouac. The climb takes from six to eight hours, while the descent takes from two to four, according to the condition of the snow. The real rating for this route should be 3B; but Mt. Ushba can be treacherous and entails many an objective risk, so it is classified as 4A. The most difficult and dangerous part is the first 300 meters of snow ridge known as the "Knife" (Nozh) that goes from the Pillow to the summit. Under the snow is a layer of compacted ice, and if there has been abundant snowfall before your climb, avalanches are likely to occur. Furthermore, in case of fog it is easy to get lost. The Pillow- is the only point From which one can see the impressive faces of Mt. Ushba.
Mt. Ushba group - from East side.
Chatyn and Ushba
To climb South Ushba peak (4710 m) it necessary to be ready for long climbing by rock and ice. The most prestige route of Caucasus is situated in South Ushba peak, so called "Pillar of Ushba" - South-Western face - Kustovskiy's route. It is real examination for extra class climbers to test themself.


The history of the Prince's Gift of Ushba group - "Witches' Sabbath" - to one woman .
Svanetia Land in Caucasus.

To be continued...