Two New Routes in the Caucasus

Well-known alpinist Mikel Zabalza is on an expedition in Georgia’s Caucasus Mountains with the Spanish Alpine Team. First, Zabalza and Inaki Mendizabal climbed Ushba South (4,710m) via the Gabriel Khergiani (south ridge) route.

This is the most common way to the summit. Gabriel Khergiani and his team first climbed this route on September 12, 1937, over five days.

The Gabriel Khergiani route on Ushba South.

The Gabriel Khergiani route on Ushba South. Photo: Mikel Zabalza


In the beginning, Zabalza and Mendizabal had some doubts. Storms and high temperatures in the region may have forced them to change their plans at any time. But in the end, they succeeded and were totally alone on Gulba South.

The rest of the team chose to open two new routes on nearby Gulba (3,725m).

Two new routes opened on Gulba.

The two new routes opened on Gulba. Photo: Mikel Zabalza


An uncertain history

The climbing history of  Gulba is not well documented, but Zabalza and his team possibly opened the first route on its south face back in 2021. They also ascended the southwest spur of Ushba during that expedition.

“In the Caucasus, there is very little infrastructure for climbing, with no lifts, so everything must be carried up from the valley,” recalled Zabalza last year in his report on their 2021 expedition. “Logistically, it was interesting preparation for future projects.”

Climbing on the granite wall.

On the granite wall. Photo: Mikel Zabalza


Zabalza has had always good taste in climbing objectives. He avoids crowds and exploration plays a big role in his choices. He considers Caucasus climbing in Georgia to be a little like what climbing in the Alps might have felt like years ago.

After a few days off to recharge, Zabalza and the team will continue their current expedition.

Spnaish Alpine Team this month in Caucasus.

The Spanish Alpine Team this month in the Caucasus. Photo: Mikel Inoriza

Kris Annapurna

KrisAnnapurna is a writer with ExplorersWeb.

Kris has been writing about history and tales in alpinism, news, mountaineering, and news updates in the Himalaya, Karakoram, etc., for the past year with ExplorersWeb. Prior to that, Kris worked as a real estate agent, interpreter, and translator in criminal law. Now based in Madrid, Spain, she was born and raised in Hungary.