Reaching the Kazbegi summit at 5033m after jumping into a crevasse (August 2023)

We left Thor in Batumi and drove with Rosinante to Arsha to do some rock climbing (more in the next post).

After a couple of days Julip joined us. We had been in touch since I had met them in Turkey some months ago and we made the plan to climb the Kazbegi. The third highest mountain in Europe with a 5033 meters high summit!

The experience levels of us four were very different when it came to real mountaineering and none of us went higher than 3500 meters before. So we made the plan: parking near the Gargeti Trinity Church at 2100 meters, go up to the Bethlemi Hut at 3650 meters, sleep one night there, practice some rescue actions the next day at around 4000 meters and acclimate to the height, go back to the hut for another night and go for the summit very early the next day.

For me it was my first tour with crampons, ice axe, rope and all this stuff. I loved it!

This tour was absolutely amazing!

All of us had big backpacks with around eighteen kilos but the first part to the Bethlemi Hut went super good. Close to the Bethlemi Hut we had to pass the first glacier. I loved to put on the crampons and walk with them on this massive glacier. Water was rushing beneath the ice crust and sometimes above it and it was awesome to see the summit all the time.

At the Bethlemi Hut Julip built up their tent and Cindy and I put our stuff in the room we had rented. For dinner we had the food we had prepared in advance and the next day we went for proper mountaineering!

Racki and I did not catch a lot of sleep because from one o’clock on, another group of people sleeping in our room was preparing their start to the summit. But we were excited and decided to explore the path which would lead us to the summit the next day and to train rescue procedures at about 4000 meters.

We passed huge fields of rocks and when we reached the ice fields we put on the crampons, made our ice axes ready and attached us to one rope. We were walking close to the enormous cliff of the glacier. Because of the melting ice there were frequently rocks falling down the cliff and rolling towards us. Some were small but others were huge and exploding into several parts when hitting the wall or the ground. None came close to our path. But nevertheless it was a crazy experience because mostly I heard some ice cracking, turned my head to the cliff and saw the rocks flying.

After jumping over some smaller crevasses we reached about 4000 meters and looked for a nice big and deep crevasse to jump in and practice some rescue procedures. When it was my turn to jump into the crevasse, I hesitated. I checked the rope attached to my harness. And hesitated again. Rock climbing got me pretty much used to the harness and the rope and some falling. But the idea of jumping into a deep crack in the ice of an enormous glacier felt very different to me. But once I jumped, it was pretty comfortable and a nice experience.

After we finished our practice, we started our way back to the hut and after just a couple of meters one leg of the second of our group broke through the snow and ice and he got stuck. Just a second later the same happened to me. It was super easy to get going again but a nice finish of our practice.

Back at the hut we had dinner and went to bed early but Cindy and I could not sleep because it was always so noisy in the hut, in our room, and outside there was a group of puppies crying all night.

At about one o’clock we got up and prepared for our ascent to the summit and had some breakfast!

It was cold and dark. We put on all the layers of clothes we had and started. I was excited, high on expectations and felt absolutely adventurous.

We took the same path we had taken the day before and it turned out to be very comfortable to have taken it before. In the dark the enormous cliff of the glacier was invisible but the cracking sounds were much more present in the dark. Although they were less frequent because of the lower temperatures.

After overtaking two other groups, we passed our practice spot and continued. It was so magnificent and awesome! Attached to the rope we went up and up and had a good rhythm that was comfortable for everyone.

Cindy and I got cold feet and hands but it was all ok. The path got steeper and steeper and when the sun made it over the first mountains surrounding us, the view got absolutely astonishing.

After hours of climbing, we reached the plateau right in front of the summit. The path from there to the summit looked impressive and steep. After a short rest, we pushed on!

We used our ice axes to not lose grip and pushed on and on. When we were about one hundred meters away from our goal, the sun rose over the summit and her warm and bright light illuminated the snow. There we were standing. Together, attached to one another, alone as a group on the steep slope, standing on ice with our crampons and ice axes, tears in our eyes. Overwhelmed by the effort, the adventure, joy and love. This moment! I’ll never forget it. And I’m so happy to have experienced it with my lovely Racki and our good friends.

On the summit, at 5033 meters, we had a magnificent view! On top of the world, I’d say. And after congratulating each other, out of nowhere Lip started to make a marriage proposal to Ju. It was so beautiful and heartwarming! And we didn’t know that he was going for it.

What an experience!

After a couple of more minutes, we started to go down again. On the way my guts started to feel not good and a heavy diarrhea started. Not the best place for something like that. But it could have been worse if it had started before reaching the summit. On the way to the hut, we passed some other groups and it all went well. At the hut , Cindy and I decided to continue our way down because we did not want to spend another sleepless night and I was not looking forward to going through my diarrhea on the only improvised outhouse toilet for dozens of people.

After reaching Rosinante, Cindy and I were exhausted and tired. We felt like zombies but made it for some groceries and went back to our camp spot in Arsha.

This experience. We all did so well and the connection and communication between us during this whole adventure was so amazing and positive . It was awesome!

Here is our tour on Komoot: day one, day two, day three

Opposing views on the world, one of the most psychologically demanding days in years (July 2023)

We went back near Batumi because the package from Germany was ready for pickup. We had sent it to a friend of Cindy and I was very thankful that he did invest his energy and time in this.

But the process of getting this package was crazy for me. I believe that basically humans are good and that experiences can make them behave not so well. So for me this is a state of confusion which is totally human and just part of us humans although we are basically good.

The friend of Cindy believes in mostly the opposite. That’s ok with me but still it was so demanding for me to get this package from the postal office and listen all the time to all the examples he had to somehow prove his view. And all the things that happened in the package retrieval process he saw as proofs of his beliefs. For him all the people we dealt with were bad and their only reason for existence seemed to be to make our lives harder. And about this he was sure even before we met the first of them.

So we started our odyssey and drove to the postal office. There we had to wait for half an hour. After that the people there started to ask questions about the contents of the package etc. Cindy’s friend was already pissed and had the people feel that. They were speaking Russian so I could not understand exactly what they said but that wasn’t necessary or even better that way. This procedure took about half an hour and I felt not good. Not good for Cindy’s friend, not good for the people in the postal office and not good for myself.

In the end we had to go to a Georgian Bank office to pay the import fees. I saw that coming because everything over 300 GEL (approximately 100 Euro) gets an import fee of about 18% in Georgia. For Cindy’s friend this fee was a proof of the evilness of the people in the postal office. At the bank we had to wait for a while and then paid. There was some discussion with the bank accountant about the fact that we only could pay in cash. Another sign of evilness.

We went back to the postal office. On the way I did tell Cindy’s friend about my perspective on the things happening and that it’s all ok. I did not want to convince him of my “Buddhist Zen-like” perspective but I could stay silent as well. I guess I just wanted to say something to calm myself or ensure myself that my beliefs were alright. And although I tried to accept that Cindy’s friend had just a different but not better or worse perspective than me, I could not remain neutral. And the fact that he believed that for example Trump would save humanity of evilness did not make it easier for me.

At the postal office the people told us that there has to be a mistake. The bank accountant did charge us three Lari too little. For me a mistake that can happen. For Cindy’s friend another proof of evilness.

So we went back to the bank. Cindy’s friend was pissed and had a big discussion with the accountant. I was smiling. In the end the accountant offered to pay the three Lari by her own. I liked the gesture. For Cindy’s friend she was making fun of us. We payed the three Lari.

After that we went back to the postal office and retrieved the package. I was happy that this was over. And I was still thankful that Cindy’s friend did go through this with me. Especially because this whole process was so full of evilness from his perspective.

I was super happy about the package full of mountaineering and climbing stuff and so we went to the nearest climbing area to try my first own climbing shoes. But I could not really climb. I was just not centered at all. Too busy in the head.

I guess this whole package mission just let me doubt about my whole perspective on the world. Maybe the perspective of Cindy’s friend was the right one and I was wrong? During the whole day, but especially at that point I felt that the “Zen perspective” really helped me to accept my perspective, his perspective and most importantly a part of the nature of human perspectives and beliefs: to have something that’s true, something we can rely on, something that gives us the feeling of having understood something about our own lives.