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PILGRIM PROGRAM
PILGRIM PROGRAM

CHALAADI TRAIL

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THE TRAIL

This route takes us to the approaches of the Chatini peak, up to the tongue of the Chalaadi glacier. The total length of the trail is six kilometres, the first stretch of which is 4.5 km and varies in elevation by 180 m. The second stretch (from the bridge to the finish) is 1.5 km and varies in elevation by 420 m. The trail can be walked in 5-6 hours.


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DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE ROUTE

From the centre of the town of Mestia we follow the automobile road on the left bank of the Mestiachala River. At the edge of town, to the left side of the road, we see a small lumber mill and to the right we see several buildings that were part of what was once a cattle farm. One of them is covered by a piece of tin painted red. To the right of the road, we see the "START" marker, painted in yellow on the wall of the last building, along with the elevation of that point, 1490 m. (Picture 1)

Along the road, to the north, we can see the Dalaqora cliff (3430 m) (Picture 2), at the bottom of which the rivers Mestiachala and Chalaadi converge. We must reach the junction of these valleys and continue west through the Chalaadi valley, up to the Chalaadi glacier.

The route follows a dirt automobile road; there are no more signs for about the next kilometre, up to the village of Lavladashi. We continue along the dirt road up to the Dalaqora cliff. There are signs here and there showing the direction of the route. At an elevation of 1600 m above sea level we come across sign No. 7; drinking water is available nearby. Five kilometres from the start, at an elevation of 1650 m, on the left side of the road we notice a dike dam built with wire mesh and stones. It is at this point where the Mestiachala River, which originates from the Leghziri glacier and flows down from the north, joins the left tributary, the Chalaadi River. (Picture 3)

At this point we see directly in front of us the Dalaqora cliff face and to the left, well in front of Mount Chatini (4370 m), we see the Chalaadi glacier, in which direction we continue our hike.

Two hundred metres above the confluence of the rivers we pass a primitive wooden turnpike and on a narrow suspension bridge (Picture 4), we cross to the right bank of the Mestiachala River (1680 m). From here to the north we see the Mestiachala valley and the Ulutauchana peak (Picture 5). We follow the path into the forest and soon come across a border guard post (Picture 6). We follow the path through the woods and enter the Chalaadi valley, where we continue on the left bank of the river in the opposite direction of its flow.

A half-kilometre from the bridge, at an elevation of 1730 m above sea level, we come across a fork in the road. Following the signs, we take the left fork (Picture 7). We then reach the ruins of a hut at 1790 m. After going through a birch wood, at 1800 m the route goes through a rocky area. Later, we see signs painted in yellow on boulders (Picture 8). From here Mount Chatini can be seen clearly, on the south face of which the Chalaadi glacier takes shape. Chatini's north face, which is known in mountain-climbing literature as Chatini's Rhombus, is considered the most difficult climb in the Caucasus. A mountain-climbing route here was given the highest possible score, 6B, on the Soviet scale of difficulty.

We continue towards Chatini and at 1920 m above sea level we come to the finish (Picture 9). From here, we can see the Chalaadi ice pass and glacier drift (Picture 10), which is the source of the Chalaadi River.

The route is not characterized by especially dramatic variations in elevation and as such, we do not need to discuss its hypsometric profile.



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