Extreme Trek to Kuro ridge and other hikes of Khde valley

by Georgian Tour
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Kuro Ridge, Khde Gorge

Wild and untouched nature, craziest river, walking on the huge stones which dismantle itself everyday (sypuhe), giant hogweeds, horrible ascent but rewarding view to Mt.Kazbeg, the whole Stepatsminda and surrounding mountains from a very different angle any photographer can only dream of, from the cliff where mountain goats stand where anyone afraid of heights is strictly forbidden to pass. I don’t want to scare you, this one is just a crazy hike – very popular among Georgian hikers. I don’t take responsibility just accurately describing the hike into wild Khde valley which lies behind Kuro (4041) and Shino (3948) summits.

This is also mountain goats hiking route, seen by the group of hikers

Do it at your own risk, bring some experience from some other alpine hikes, but consult with experienced hikers at least or bring a guide who has been here. I would prefer to join experienced group of hikers. You need 3 days to complete the trek (at least 2). Route passes near Russian border  so you need Border Permit from Military. No special equipment is needed to ascend the Kuro ridge but the ascent from the gorge till around 3500m is very steep and stony so you must be very careful.

the girl on the pic, our friend – one of the hikers 2 the ridge has died in car accident recently

Route to Khde Gorge

Extreme trek in Kazbegi starts at the new church at the border with Russia. Near that church there is short car serpentine which turns into path soon leading you to the different world. There is the wildest Khdistskali river flowing down to Terek. Walking in the bank of river climbing huge stones, then path which border guards often follow.
Nettles and giant grass, hogweeds but its not dangerous if you wear long pants. After 8km (2hr) hike you will approach Border guards post but until that you will see a nice waterfall. It depends on you how you cross the river, the most important is to make above that waterfall and you can decide how.
There is no path, just ascent (around 6km – 6 hr hike) to vertical mountain. Trees prevent you from moving up, but moving over shaking stones is even harder and dangerous as it might fall down and through you down in the gorge or you can hurt someone going behind you.

The path


Camping Place

Then you will reach another waterfall. Above that waterfall you can camp. Not an ideal camping place, but it is flat not stony field. The next day you go up (leaving your camp set up) the ridge, enjoy the view, take photos and the third day you descend. Don’t hope that you remember the way back. Just concentrate on river crossing point and descend.

Khde Gorge To Juta

You can follow the route from Khde to Juta, enjoy waterfalls and view of Central Kibishi Pass which is the main difficulty of the trek. If you decide to trek to Juta you have to cross the small glacier which is dangerous but the surface is stable and not steep. It is important to take ropes or crampons and be careful while crossing the glacier. Trek duration is 3 days with total 28.7km, 3210 elevation gain and 2446 lose. For detailed itinerary visit Crossing of Khde gorge.

Video of one of the pioneers of Kuro ridge trek, Georgian trekker and my friend Zura Natsvlishvili; On the road to Kuro ridge:

 From Kuro ridge:

Border Permit of Khde Gorge Hike

 You can get it near Dariali border crossing, but takes time as head of the unit arrives at work at 10am and you may have to start hike around 11. If you live in Tbilisi preparing for the weekend then you should better get a permit in Tbilisi (kandelaki st), copies of IDs of all group members must be enough and permits will be ready in a week or two. This is nice idea if you prefer to start your hike as early as 8am. Bring proper shoes, wear long pants, be fully prepared for river crossings (bring ropes) and all the necessary equipment and arrange transportation.

How to get to Khde Gorge

Take a Kazbegi bus from Tbilisi (Didube) and then taxi (around 15-20 gel) next day early morning. Or you can drive 12km beyond Kazbegi at Russian border (New church).

Easier Options

Easier option would be to explore the valley to camp in the plateau around 2400m surrounded by the mountains and see the waterfalls of the gorge. Another easier alternative is crossing Kibishi Pass.

Original Idea of the trek

Original Idea of the trek belongs to the hiking club of Totally Undisciplined Hikers. Its leader Georgian hiker Zura Natsvlishvili took several liters of beer to the ridge to celebrate life enjoying the gorgeous views.

kuro ridge by Giorgi chubinidze

View to Mt. Kazbek from Kuro Ridge

Kuro Ridge Chubinidze

Stepatsminda from Kuro ridge

For the gps track of Khde Valley and Kuro Ridge hike you can see (On the way back gps was off so just come back the same way):

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