Racha - Georgian Switzerland

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Author: Михаил Голубев

The summer of 2013 I spent in Racha - a mountainous region of Georgia, which is not very well-known among travelers. When it comes to mountains in Georgia, first names that come to mind are Svaneti, Gudauri or Bakuriani. But this time, let me tell you of Racha. Detailed information about this land, it's maps, routes, etc, you can find in my LiveJournal.

After the long road. Cities give place to grim mountains covered with forests.

 

High in the mountains...

Mountains and clouds.

 

Layered rocks on the slopes of Chakhuri north pass. All the peaks around are built of layered rocks like this.

View from the Chakhuri north pass. Strangely shaped rocks and peaks stand above the sea of clouds.

Have not seen anything like this in Caucasus!

At the base of these mountains there is a small glacier. We'll be going there.

This peak drew our special attention. Rock seems to be crumbling layer by layer during the centuries, so now the even areas make steps of different shape and height. Rusty colors add some flavor to them.

Another panoramic view of rocky ranges in upper reaches of Chkhauri valley.

To the left there is a 2B level pass,  by the way. I did not dare to go there, but the rocks were gorgeous.

View from the opposite side of the valley. Can't say much, the place is amazing. I will return there, for sure. Just to set a tent here is excellent enough. Sadly, we contemplated this beauty just for few hours, from pass to pass.

Alpine meadows of Racha.

More of the layered rocks.

Illustrated "textbook" of geology.

Alavidze peak and Geske pass. Rocks- gouged by the geological processes.

One last view of Chkhauri summits.

During my more than 50 trips to Caucasus I haven't seen anything like this. Racha and its southern range are amazing.

Going down from the pass to Udziro lake. Rocks are "smiling".

The lake itself. Not very spectacular in the evening. Morning will be better.

Large body of purest water with mirror surface. Impressive.

The next day.

Our camp. In the background stand the mountains of greater Caucasus. This is a lake of rare beauty.

Racha.

Leaving the shale range. Ahead of us are the giants of greater Caucasus.

Long walk on trails, alpine meadows, screes and we are closing to summits of Caucasus main range. Tbiliza Massif (4400 m) and its glaciers. Sunset.

Western branch of Bubis glacier and Bubis-Tbiliza massif. We are going a bit to the left, through the Bokos-Bubis pass (level 2A).

Small plateau of glacier snow, below the Bokos-Bubis pass (level 2A).

Green mountains are left far below. We walk on a fresh show. In the distance, beyond the Mamisoni range - dark summit of mount Khalats.

Khalats peak.

Panoramic view of sunset with colorful summits of Karaugom. Approximate altitude 3800 m.

Double peak at sunset.

Plateau in the upper part of Bokos glacier. Naming here is tentative, because one kilometer north and this plateau becomes the upper part of Karaugom glacier in Russia. These are the broadest fields of glacier snow in Caucasus after the Elbrus.

Wet trail of avalanche in the foreground, view from the slope of LGU pass. In the distance are ranges where the first photos of this journey were shot.

Overnight camping on a snow field in summer is not that cold. When the only ground at the campsite is snow, you have to set tents on a snow. During the summer snow is dense, easy to dig and shape. Mats are good insulation. Put some additional padding and the bed is ready.

But we came here not to sleep, we came to see these spectacular sunsets.

35.Sunset in Racha.

In the foreground, on the striped slope between the striped rocks - our route from Chiori pass to the lake. Keen eyed reader can find it on the photo. From the distance it may seem small, but it's fairly large, about 150x150 meters. Interestingly, no streams flow in or out from the lake, but the crystal clarity of the water proves the opposite.

We are leaving the kingdom of snow. Fantastic alpine meadows unfold before us again. In the distance to the left there are rocky mountains from the first stage of our journey (Chkhauri, Udziro), and to the right - totally wild and unexplored area of mount Shoda (3609 m). We still have a slow descent on mountain trails ahead of us, and then on the dirt road to village Chiora. There we will be preparing for the third part of our route.

Clickable panorama of area around mount Chiora, Tsikhvarga (to the left) and Burjulu (to the right).

http://ic.pics.livejournal.com/mg5642/66429722/738449/738449_original.jpg

This dirt road serves the Georgian touri

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