Svaneti, Georgia (Caucasus)
Between 31 Jan and 3 Feb I skied in Svaneti in the Georgian Caucasus. A few observations:
A substantial amount of snow fell over a short time earlier this season, and then settled fast.
E-N aspects at higher elevations (above ca. 2600m) have good coverage. The Chaaladi glacier has 3.2 m snow at 3200 m, areas above 3000 m near Tetnuldi on average 2 m. Below 2500 m the snowpack gets thinner fast – we avoided skiing the Chaaladi glacier to the bottom due to insufficient crevasses coverage. SW and S aspects have thinner snowpacks – rock contact was frequent up to 3000m.
Stability was good. The upper snowpack has settled really well, and I found no real weaknesses other than basal facets in shallow areas. In the vicinity of Tetnuldi resort, steep lines to over 35° were skied by us and others, with no reactivity. Isolated slides (2-2.5) on steep south faces due to strong solar radiation in the afternoon were visible on 2 and 3 Feb.
Mild temperatures during the day and cold nights this week will further promote stability until new snow arrives at the end of the week .
Skiing quality was excellent on N, E and W aspects – fresh snow had fallen on 26 Jan and another 10-15 cm new snow came on 2 Feb. On solar aspects the skiing quality was poorer, with either sun crusts or wind-affected snow. Good conditions at the moment are most likely to be found on higher NW, N, and NE aspects.