Splitboard Freeriding in Higher Racha, Georgia, Caucasus.)

Hello. I would like to share with you my impressions of my trip to a very beautiful area of Georgia, namely to Higher Racha, Caucasus.

Features of the Racha region:

Great opportunities for freeride and ski touring.

Our trip leads us to the Municipality of Oni – a mountainous part of the Racha region, fitted with famous resorts, reaching out to the exotic highland. An essential characteristic of the place is its elevation level: the center of the district – the city of Oni – is located at a modest altitude of 800 meters above sea level, but some villages have crept up onto 1500-1800 meters.

Features of the riding location:

Bases: Chiora, Ghebi (Upper Racha)

Distance from the airports:
Kutaisi – 150 km (3 hours oFeatures of driving)
Tbilisi – 242 km (6 hours of driving)

Lowest point: 1400 m.
Highest point: 4000-4300m m.
Backcountry skiing opportunities: unlimited
Elevation: 2700-3000 m total drop

Season: December  – April

When my friends and I first got there in March 2016, we had decided to explore the region in order to expand its capacities for off-piste-riding and ski touring.
There were five of us. We started our trip from Gudauri (a ski resort close to Tbilisi) and arrived late at night; I, sitting in the car, became acquainted with the place while the boys were quietly snuffling behind me.
Before we reached the entrance to the Higher Racha region, we passed a few bigger towns, namely Tkibuli, Ambrolauri and Oni.
A few of these places were very interesting  – there you can drive in the wild mountains when after few seconds there can grow a big city as if out of nowhere, decorated with light garlands; everything is so quiet and peaceful, the road is sprinkled with a 10-cm-layer of fresh powder. I wanted to start to ride already from that place.
Then there was no snow in some places, and in some was a lot of fresh powder. And so we drove through all the towns and came to the village Utsera which is famous for its natural mineral springs and its beautiful nature in general.
All in all, the driving went very well; I thought I would be so nice and smooth up to the end, but afterwe left Utsera behind, the good road ended and the pavement started to be basically flat, but stuffed with a sufficiently large number of pits gravel road.

And so we moved slowly higher and higher into the mountains, to the to the bridge where road goes right to Shovi and left to Ghebi village.
It was very late and we decided to sleep in the car, it was not very comfortable but We was in the midle of no where, We didnt now where to go and where can be people.
We got to sleep 3-4 hours as it was very. Next up in the morning we saw around us a huge amount of fresh snow and it is almost blow our mind . Huge mountains that around you, and you start to think that you just a grain of sand in compare with them, various types of forest that seems endless, and of the sea of snow.)

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And after some time we went in the direction Shovi village.
There at the entrance all seemed pretty sad, old broken or unfinished houses, but then we came in quite  place where people still lived . And driving down the street, I stopped at the first house where the smoke from pipe and waited for the hosts when will come.
And after a few minutes of waiting the owner of house came to Me, his name was Gocha. He invited me to his home to talk and asked what I’m doing here. And the guys were sleeping quietly  in the car.
In Gocha home everything  was not very rich, since there was still winter, he lived alone in the room at the bottom of the house. The rest of the rooms open only for summer. After litle  talk with him I told that Im not alone and we  are 5 persone here, he said let’s all wake up and come  in the house.  He prepaired simple breakfast and We start speak about this place, about us, who we are and why we are here.
Further, all as in the best traditions of the Georgian he put chacha and started talking toast.)
Then we began to ask him about the mountains all around, and how and where you can climb up high and in general about the region as a whole. Just found out that in the valley where also Chiora and Gaby villages by left side of valley, We decided also to go there and check this place, where better to start skitour up in the mountaines.
He gave us a contact person who lives there and speak  Russian.
Returning to the bridge  we  started drive in left side of valley. Weather start to be better, and we continued to discover this beautiful place with wild and beautiful nature.

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Going further and higher into the mountains this place more strongly attracted and fascinated us, unreal mountain peaks and endless forests have delayed the deeper and deeper.
And so we came first to the first village Chiora where we especially did not stop because the contact person who gave us Gocha lived in the village of Ghebi. And so we went on in Ghebi.
Arriving in Ghebi, we met in the center the man which phone number we had. Then we met another grandfather name Miha who got us into the car and led the way to his home. The road over there of course fun and not all machines will travel there, if you go only to the all-wheel drive and high ground clearance. And so we came to his house, threw things quickly changed clothes, and moved back in the car, and went to the place that we saw  when we was in the begining of village. It was a mountainside with forest and meadows where you can ride very good with big speed. And so we moved to the river, and as close as possible to the place, parked, prepared equipment and moved up in  the mountain slopes untouched by anyone this place.

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The first day was generally bright events as in other and the rest two. We went up 3:00 surprised and delighted by the power and beauty of these place. And after 3 hours up, we prepaire our self and ride down. It was beautiful, fresh powder , and we want to never stop this moment.)

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After this big first day we was down near car, inside us was so many energy and we want to ride and ride more, but it was already evening and we went to our house.
And when we come back there are already was some people who wanted to meet with us, they prepaired some meal, and told us to go down and try Georgian traditional food.) Also there are was Vine and ChaCha. People was very friendly and open. After supper we went up to bed, we was tired after big road.)
So this was our first day in Higher Raca.
Second day we decide to go higher, closer to the glacier, in valley of Muchameshi.
Parked the car, we met the local men, name Zurab was rising with the bulls up to the house. So we speak some time with them, and Zurab gave us 2 liters of home vine),  and told when we will go back we shoud  visit him, which later we will do.
The second day was the most beautiful , the morning was cold -10 degrees and the sky was clear, and when we arrived at the point and began to go up, we saw  great and beautiful Caucasian Mountaines. We was crazy  of fresh powder, slopes and ridges that can be seen for example in  Alaska films, or as the guys ride pow in the forests of Japan, it was here before us at arm’s length, and we were just stunned by the scale of the place.
In general the second day was even more energetic, we went further up, seeing and not believing his eyes, that’s what you two days ago looked at like that through a computer screen, and now all this can be observed in real life.
And so after going to the maximum up and realizing that to the selected goal, we do not have time , we decided to ride down.
The descent was excellent, I managed to take a few good video frames.

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After more beautiful ride than was yesterday we went down to the village and went to visit Zurab. There he took us as expected, we sit on the table, his parents helped, and we are tired and hungry start speak about this day, and eat this very good Georgian Food. There were many, as always wine, but  Zurab  not drink too much, he said that he drunk last night with friends (5L of wine), and today he is bad, and he not be able to drink a lot, but it does not apply to us.)
That how we finish our second day in Racha.

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Then on the third day we planned to go up in the opposite direction, closer to the Caucasian ridge to the village Gona, where in the old days were mine where digging molipden for military purposes, and gold as well. But now, there is anyone can live only in the summer . And so it was destroyed a long time ago and people have left these places.
And so in the morning we moved toward Gona village. We went up on skitour about 8 km. In the end we came to the village Gona, where We found a barn, and where it was possible to settle down and prepare to eat. After dinner the weather start to be not very good with strong snowfall, and we decided to stay in village and create small snowpark.)

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After some riding in our own snow park we pack our staff, and went down to the car.So we got to the car, quite tired. We sit in the evening with Miha and neighbors, Miha told us as there was before, and what they were doing, actually quite bright published itinerary.
In the morning woke up and realized that it’s time to pack up and go back to Gudauri, I went outside and saw a picture of where I wanted to move and continue our stay there even if only for a couple of days. During the night was 40-50 centimeters pour fresh pow, that dry and pure snow, that I already crying like baby because we shoud go back home . But  we pack our stuff and  thanked once again for Miha and all people who help us there.
So we spent our first time at the top of Raca, as a result later in April, I once again will come back to find a place for the house where I wanted to live. But that’s another story. At least for me._mg_2511

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Freeride Spots in Higher Racha:

1. Valley Shoda.

Time on skitour takes 4 hours.

Elevation: 1000-1400 m

The starting height of 1400m

The upper gorge point 2400-2800m.

Different options and lines of descent.

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2. Valley Muchameshi.

Time on skitour takes 4 hours.

Elevation: 1000-1400 m

The starting height of 1400m

The upper gorge point 2400-2800m.

Different options and lines of descent.

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3. Valley Mt. Chiora.

Time on skitour takes 2,5 – 4 hours.

Elevation: 1000-1500 m

The starting height of 1400m

The upper gorge point 3000-3100m.

Different options and lines of descent.

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4. New Alaska.

Time on skitour takes 3 – 4 hours.

Elevation: 1000-1500 m

The starting height of 2000m

The upper gorge point 3000-3100m.

Different options and lines of descent.

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5. Valley Mt. Karaugom.

Time on skitour takes 4 – 5 hours.

Elevation: 1000-1500 m

The starting height of 2000m

The upper gorge point 3000-3500m.

Different options and lines of descent.

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