The Caucasus, freeriding-heaven right between Europe and Asia

 

The Caucasus is a mountain range between Europe and Asia that stretches over 1100km, bordering the Black Sea in the west and the Caspian Sea in the east. The mountains are ‘shared’ by the countries Georgia, Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. The highest mountain, the Elbrus with its 5642m, is situated in Russia. It heavily depends on the definition of the inner-Eurasian border, whether Mount Elbrus or Mount Blanc is cited as the highest European peak.

Missing infrastructure and transport options make it difficult to travel to Armenia and Azerbaijan. However, Russia and Georgia do not only offer the highest peaks of the Caucasus, but also a minimum of infrastructure which render it the best starting point for wintery adventures in the backcountry.

There are some smaller skiing regions in the Caucasus area. Mostly, lifts there are antiquated and unreliable, with two noticeable exceptions: the skiing region on Mount Elbrus - with neighboring lifts on Mt. Cheget - and Gudauri in Georgia. Both regions offer decent infrastructure and lift-assisted ascents up to over 4000m (Elbrus-region) and 3300m (Gudauri). Ski-touring is a dream of its own, but more downhill-oriented ski-mountaineers also appreciate if an ascent of only 100m offers a descent of over 2000m (Elbrus-region).