Freeskiing in Gudauri
Going to Gudauri for skiing was a dream I had for a long time. People who know me well know that I have a bucket list of extraordinary skiing destinations I want to visit. Gudauri was one of them.
Last summer my brother and I decided to spend a week in Gudauri in February 2018. In this post I share our wonderful experiences from this place. Let’s start with some impressions of the time there:
Weather and Snow Conditions
Gudauri is known for having great snow-conditions. The best time seems to be end of January to end of March. The conditions during our stay could have been better, nevertheless we had nice snow and one night of 30cm fresh powder.
A big difference is the absence of artificial snow. We did not see one snow cannon. Therefore the snow had super grip while being fluffy even in the late hours of the day. The resort reaches up to 3.260m and so it has safe snow conditions all season.
We had 3 great sunny days and two very foggy ones. With very foggy I mean maybe 3 meters of sight. On these days it was better to stay on the slopes, r better yet, stay indoors with some Georgian cognac.
The ski resort is rather small compared to resorts in the alps, but it’s still the biggest in the country. There are 11 lifts and roughly 35 kms of slopes. The lifts are all Austrian fabricates and make better impressions than those in some skiing regions of France. Nevertheless there was a brutal accident by the end of March.
The slopes are well prepared during the nights. All in all the resort is not highly frequented and so slopes are never crowded. We never queued in front of a lift for longer than 3 minutes. As the resort is more or less a big bowl, you can easily practice your freeride capabilities between slopes if the conditions are fine.
The tickets are around 14 Euros per day which is really cheap compared to European resorts. Lifts open around 10am and run until 3:30pm-5:30pm.
Huts and Restaurants
Compared to the size of the resort, there are many huts, restaurants and bars. All feature WIFI, delicious food and all kind of drinks. It’s definitely more expensive than in the village, but still cheap compared to Western resorts. You can get all the Georgian food and drinks - so don‘t worry about refilling your energy level.
Gudauri is well know for the great free-riding possibilities. There are long routes with descents of more than 1,000 meters and it’s said to be relatively safe for avalanches.
There are multiple agencies which take you on hiking-tours, beside the super expensive heli skiing tours. The guides usually take you up one route a day and so my brother and I decided to carefully try some routes on our own.
Here you’ll find our top 5 routes which can be accessed without excessive gear. Warning: We all did this tour in perfect conditions without a guide. Please know your own skills and rather take a professional guide with you.
Route 1 - Mount Chridili
This is ride is perfect to get into the terrain. You start in the Gudauri Village, take the Soliko lift up. Exit on the right side and travers to Hut 24. Then enjoy already some quite nice freeride down to the notch where Chridili mountain starts.
Put your equipment on your rucksack and start the ascent. It takes you ~30 minutes to reach the cross at the top. From that top, you can more or less choose from a 500m wide hillside which ends close to the mountain lift. The ride is approximately 300 meters in height, so relatively short but quite enjoyable. As it is easy to access, you can take this ride multiple times
Route 2 - Mount Bidara
We did the ride down from Mount Bidara multiple times. The mountain itself features some nice tracks and is the starting point for all the other tours which follow.
First you take the lifts up to Saldzele Mountain, which are around 3.200m and then from there you can ride down on already beautiful tracks to the west. You can also stay to the right of the ridge and get some less touched tracks. It’s just important to stay on route to Kobi Pass.
From Kobi Pass you have an awesome view to Kazbegi mountain. That’s probably the reason they’re building a lift station up there. When we were there in March 2018 they had begun construction.
From the pass, you mount your ski or snowboard and carry them approximately 30 minutes uphill on a sharp ridge. You can drop into the hill on the southside at any time from the ridge, but I would recommend going maybe 50 meters before the top, because you’ll have better opportunities to put your skis on.
From that point you can enjoy a long ride either back to Sadzele Lift or to Route 4 down to Bidara.
Route 3 - Mount Bidara Ridge
The Bidara Ridge features a very broad mountain side with untouched slopes. You start as described in Route 2, but then don‘t descent from Mount Bidara but cross the whole mountain to get to the ridge.
The ridge is easy to access and you can ski some meters into the south direction. In the end you need to take some more steps uphill to gain some meters in height.
Afterwards you can enjoy the ride into the basin and continue either with Route 4 or get back on to the slopes and the lifts.
Route 4 - Down to Bidara, Georgian Military Road
If you come down from Mount Bidara or Bidara ridge, you can extend the track by going around the feet of Mount Bidara and looking over the ridge down to Bidara.
There is an old building besides a big parking lot which you cannot miss. While freeriding down the wide slopes, you should take this building as your target.
Keep in mind: There is no lift back. You need to catch a taxi on the Georgian Military Road which takes you back to Gudauri within 10 Minutes. Better speak some Georgian or Russian, otherwise you‘ll pay the tourist fare of 8-15€ - like we did.
Route 5 - Javri Pass
This track was the highlight of our stay. It features a descent of more than 1.000 meters, with beautiful and slightly steep hills. If you are in good shape you can do this track up to three times a day. A guide usually does this once per day.
You climb up Bidara mountain again to access the Ridge, but then turn into west hillsides. You need to watch out for a good line, but there are no riffs or big drop offs to mention.
Again, take the Military Road as the exit point, where you can take the taxi back to Gudauri. At Javri pass you’ll be a bit further away and so it’ll take you 20 minutes to drive back.
In the next few days I will share an article about the equipment we had with us and extend this article with maps of the tracks. Subscribe to new updates via Email.