A world-class master of sports, three-time champion of the Soviet-Union in alpinism, seven-time first-place winner of the Soviet Championship, and a prize-winner multiple times in rock climbing, Mikheil Khergiani was born in 1932 in Mestia. It could be said that climbing was in his DNA, as he was related to the Svan mountain climber Bessarion Khergiani.
Through his adventure-filled life, Khergiani conquered the most difficult peaks of the Caucasus, Pamir, Tian-Shan, and Alps at various times. Queen of the United Kingdom, Elizabeth II, first dubbed him the “Tiger of the Cliffs” at a competition in Wales, and the name stuck with him for the rest of his days.
In 1965, Khergiani was acknowledged as one of the best mountain climbers of all time and became a Champion of the Soviet Union and a gold medal winner in the same year.
He was also a world-class rescuer and distinguished himself for his willingness to risk his own life for the safety of others. The day before his death, on 3 July 1969, the mountain climber wrote in his diary: “No matter how many medals I have, I much prefer to have saved many mountain climbers, because it makes me happiest to save a person’s life.”
While climbing on the Su-Alto peak in Italy on the 4th of July, 1969, Mikheil Khergiani was caught in a rockslide, his rope broke, and he plummeted 600 meters to his death. The 37-year-old mountain climber was laid to rest in his birthplace, Mestia.
The memorial house-museum of the stellar mountain climber was opened in Mestia in 1983. A variety of objects telling a great deal about this selfless, brave individual are kept there – his hearth, cradle, lamp, dining table, photographs, personal items, awards, gifts, mountain-climbing equipment, and more.