Central Caucasus: Bezengi Valley
Going from west to east, the major northern valley is the Bezengi which called "Himalaya in miniature". Its river, Cherek Bezengi, together with Cherek Balkar, which is further east, forms the Cherek river, almost equal in its length and volume to the Baksan. The valley, arid, only lightly wooded in its upper parts, is gorge-narrow for 20 km down from Bezengi Village. The 9 km of chaotic moraines from the Bezengi glacier at its head, form a long and austere way to the most dramatic alpine scenery in the whole Caucasus. As a head-wall it has one of the three Caucasian wonders – the Bezengi Wall, a monumental mountain barrier 12 km long without any considerable depressions and rising above the glacier for nearly 2 km. (The other two wonders are Mt Elbrus and Mt Ushba.) The largest (36.2sq.km) and longest (17.6 km) glacier is there, and five out of seven summits over 5000 m are concentrated in the area. Two of five-thousanders, Shkhara (5068 m) and Dzhangui-tau (5085 m) stand in the Bezengi Wall. Three other five-thousanders of the region, Koshtan-tau (5151 m), Mizhirgu (5025 m)i and Dykh-tau (5204 m), stand in the Lateral Ridge to the North of the Main one.
There is a rough track, 18 km long, going from the Bezengi village up the treeless left side of the valley to the Bezengi mountaineering camp, which is on the right side, behind the high old moraine, near the snouts of two glaciers – Bezengi and Mizhirgi. Local mountaineering center, "Alpinist Camp Bezengui" (2200 m above the sea level), was founded in 1959 (on the photo: the Camp Bezengui, Guestola is behind). At the present it consists of a dozen of buildings including three cottages for about 20 persons each with only double and triple appartments, hot shower and flush WC being in each of appartments. First-aid medical post, sauna, dining house with three meals a day, bar and coffee room, services of route experts and rescuers, maps of the region are available in the Camp as well. It is easily reached from Nalchik (the capital of the Kabardino-Balkarian autonomy which is part of the Russian Federation) airport by bus or car (3-4 hours) or from Mineral'nye Vody (Mineral Waters) airport (6-7 hours).
Three high mountain huts are maintained in good state by the Camp personnel providing a refuge for climbers. The lowest of them, "Musos-kosh" (2600 m, 2-3 hours by feet from the Bezengui Camp) is in a placid grassy moraine "pocket" near the middle of the Bezengui glacier mainstream. It is here where climbers' cemetery is situated, a sacred place where many Russian and foreign climbers are buried. Another hut, "Austrian bivuac" or "Dzhanguikosh" (3200 m, 8-9 hours) is installed at the upper end of the Bezengui glacier east branch.
And finally, one more hut, "Ukiu-kosh" (3300 m, 4-5 hours), is constructed of stones in the closest to the Camp lateral gorge. Typically the Camp functions for 3.5 months yearly, from June 1 till the middle of September. Hundreds of trekkers and climbers from different parts of Russia and from different countries visit this beautiful and majestic places during the summer period. Stable and quiet social and political situation is characteristic of the Kabardino-Balkarian autonomy in general, but owing to its relative isolation from other parts of the Caucasia, the Bezengui region shows up even in this hospital republic in comparison with, for example, Elbrus region and Baksan Valley being more virgin, much less crowded, cleaner and safer.
Program of 8–days tour:
Day 1 Arrival to Mineralnye Vody airport. Transfer (6-7 hours) to Bezengi Valley via Nalchik.
Accommodation in Bezengi Camp (2200 m above the sea).
Day 2 Acclimatization hiking along Mizhyrgi glacier. Return to the Bezengi Camp.
Day 3 Walk to "Barankosh" meadow (2750 m) across the Bezengi glacier. Flower watching around Barankosh.
Stay at Barankosh (tent).
Day 4 Walk to "Djangikosh" (Austrian bivouac, 3200 m). Seeing Bezengi Wall from view point. Night in "the Djangikosh" hut.
Day 5 Walk to "Ukyukosh" hut (3300 m). Night in the hut.
Day 6 Alpine walk to Ukyu pass (3950 m) and descent to Bezengi Camp. Night in the Camp.
Day 7 Return to the Bezengi Camp. Night there.
Day 8 Transfer to the airport, flight home.
Period – June-September
Price per person for guided group of 8 pax:
from 985 EUR€ p/pax
The cost includes:
- lodging in valley hotels according to the program;
- full board during stay in Caucasus region;
- all transfers according to the program;
- 1 CET Neva mountain guide;
- tents, kitchen utensils, gas and stoves;
- porters to Barankosh and Dajangikosh for bringing food and group equipment;
- necessary permits and registration;
- administrative fees in Kabardino-Balkaria Republic.
The cost does not includes:
- internal regular flights to Min. Vody airport and back;
- luggage air transportation;
- unexpected premature evacuation;
- cost of visa;
- additional personal porters;
- rental of personal equipment;
- personal expenses;
- extra pay due to change of the appointed departure time.