Svaneti Region, Georgia

Team Welsh Georgia Ski Tour

Sandwiched between Russia and the Black Sea, Georgia has recently enjoyed a huge upsurge in foreign visitors. This is due to its friendly people, cultural history and world famous wine. Georgia is geographically diverse with unspoiled coastline to the west and the Caucasus mountains bordering Russia in the North.

This 11-day trip (9 days skiing) takes us to the heart of the Caucasus range and will be led by one of our IFMGA mountain guides. This is an adventure ski touring week, ideal for strong tourers keen to visit this enchanting country with its fascinating local cultures and traditions and, of course, great skiing!

Unlike Russia, entry visas are not needed for EU citizens and travel in the country is relatively simple. Living costs in Georgia are also reasonable…3 Lari (1 British Pound) will buy you a large beer! Tbilisi the capital is easily accessed from Europe but for the purposes of our trip, we fly into Kutaisi as its only a few hours transfers from Svaneti. Kutaisi is the home of the Georgian parliament and second-largest city. This historical city boasts numerous UNESCO world heritage sites, museums and ancient churches.


Itinerary shown below is for guidance and will be subject to the group's skill and fitness levels, as well as weather and snow conditions.

Day Itinerary

  • Fly to Kutaisi, Georgia's second city.

    On arrival at Kutaisi airport, we have a private transfer by road to Iskari.

    The drive takes approximately 5/6 hours with a few small breaks on the way. The roads become very circuitous and rough when we reach the mountains but this adds to the excitement! We arrive in the small village Iskari in the heart of the Svaneti region and drop our bags off at the Hanmer guest house. There are shower and washing facilities with drinking water. You will stay here for the next 5 nights. 

    Lunches are provided for on the hill but we will need to purchase any beer, wine, hill snacks and powdered milk in Mestia. There is a small convenience store about a 5-minute walk from the guesthouse however, you may find the stock quite limited. After bag drop, the group will be taxied to Mestia (the main town of Svaneti region) and eat lunch at a local restaurant (roughly £8 / 25 Lari with wine). The afternoon will be spent visiting the Svaneti Museum, climbing a Svan Tower and shopping. Mestia has all types of shops ATM machines and a Money Exchange.

    In the early evening, we return to the guest house for dinner.


    The guest house will provide breakfast and you will be able to plan the coming days.

  • Today we will do a warm-up ski tour to the summit of Tsirkiari 2881m (1200m of ascent) or Baki 2557m (900m of ascent).

    The family-run Hanmer guesthouse and the small farm are rustic but comfortable and give a great insight into how local Svan people live. The food is great and the local family very jovial especially when the local Cha Cha (firewater) is brought out after dinner. 

    You will stay overnight in the Hanmer guesthouse.

  • Today we ascend the spectacular peak of Simzagari 3311m (1800m of ascent). The route follows a majestic ridgeline that eventually ends at the summit affording amazing views of the famous North Ushba 4698m. Ushba (Matterhorn of the Caucasus) is one of the most iconic mountains in the Caucasus reserved for experienced mountaineers only. We descend the picturesque south face of  Simizaagari and back to the farmhouse for tea and Khachapuri (local cheese toasty). During most of these day ski tours, it's unlikely you will see another skier!

    Dinner is served post-shower and hopefully without too much of the local Cha Cha.

  • We leave the Hanmer guesthouse early by taxi and head to the Becho valley, starting our tour in Bagvdanari village 1600m. The tour heads North East up the Kheldra valley towards Mtavarangelozi Church 2000m. Throughout today Ushba towers above dwarfing its surroundings with its seemingly impenetrable rock walls. From the Church, we climb more steeply up to the shoulder 2954m and then onto the steep ridge Kheldra Peak 3312m (1700m of ascent). From here we are treated to unparalleled views of Ushba and Tetnuldi above with the valleys of Mestia and Becho below. Depending on the conditions there are two options, either to ski back down the line of ascent or we can ski over the pass and down to Mestia for a well-earned beer and taxi back to Iskari.
  • Today we take a 30-minute taxi ride to Mestia the main town of the region.  Depending on conditions we can either tour from Mestia up the Mestiachala towards Dolakara 3430m. Other options include lift-assisted skiing / touring at either the Hatsvali or Tetnuldi ski areas. Both resorts are very quiet with only a handful of people skiing off-piste.

    Hatsvali 2348m is a small ski lift 10 minutes drive to the South of Mestia town. It is North facing and has some great tree skiing with options of ascending Mentashi 2437m to get fresh tracks. This is a good place to go in bad weather with fresh snow. A day pass is around £8 / 20 Lari. 

    Tetnuldi is a new ski area. The new modern chair lifts take you to 3000m opening up a huge amount of off-piste and ski touring terrain. Currently, the drive from Mestia to Tetnuldi resort takes about 40 minutes initially on good roads then a very rough four-wheel-drive track. The plan is to improve this for next year, with other lifts also planned. A day pass is around £8 / 20 Lari. 

  • Today we take a 30-minute taxi ride to Mestia the main town of the region. We drop our bags off at the comfortable guesthouse and then head off for a days skiing. Depending on conditions we can either tour from Mestia up the Mestiachala towards Dolakara 3430m. Other options include lift-assisted skiing / touring at either the Hatsvali or Tetnuldi ski areas. Both resorts are very quiet with only a handful of people skiing off-piste.

    Hatsvali 2348m is a small ski lift 10 minutes drive to the South of Mestia town. It is North facing and has some great tree skiing with options of ascending Mentashi 2437m to get fresh tracks. This is a good place to go in bad weather with fresh snow. A day pass is around £8 / 20 Lari. 

    Tetnuldi is a new ski area. The new modern chair lifts take you to 3000m opening up a huge amount of off-piste and ski touring terrain. Currently, the drive from Mestia to Tetnuldi resort takes about 40 minutes initially on good roads then a very rough four-wheel-drive track. The plan is to improve this for next year, with other lifts also planned. A day pass is around £8 / 20 Lari. 

  • Today we taxi from Mestia to Tetnuldi and catch the chair lifts up to 3000m. From here we skin to the first summit of Sugimleuk 3183m and the descend east towards the Lakchkhilda Range. Tetnuldi's 4858m spectacular glaciers and rock towers are ever present throughout the day. From point 2971m we skin up the narrow ridge to Lakchkhilda Peak 3501m. From the top we have a spectacular descent all the way down to the very remote village of Adishi 1800m. In Adishsi we can take tea with a local family where we meet our taxi drivers. The drive back to Mestia is via an extremely rough but spectacular mountain road which is impassable in heavy snow conditions. After an hour and a half rocking and rolling on mud, rocks and snow we arrive in Mestia ready to buy the taxi drivers a large beer.

    In the afternoon you will depart by a private transfer back to Kutaisi, where you will spend the last night.

  • You will depart after breakfast. 

    We take a taxi back to Kutaisi Airport arriving at the airport around 11am.

The trip price includes:
9 days guide fees and expenses,
HB board accommodation in local guest houses/hotels,
meals including packed lunches when located in Iskari
airport transfers
local travel

The trip price does not include:
flights to Georgia
visa fees (in case you will need a visa)
personal insurance
optional extras (e.g. heliskiing, lift passes)

Here at the Mountain Tracks, we give you our word that we will fully refund every part of your package holiday if it is not able to run due to COVID-19.

Our Mountain Tracks and holiday teams are monitoring the COVID-19 outbreak guidance and advice while communicating closely with our suppliers to make sure everything is in place to keep you safe.
Read more: Frequently Asked Questions.


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This is an extensive list of the recommended clothing and equipment you will need if you are coming to one of our Ski Tours.

During the tour you will be staying most nights in catered high mountain huts and will need to carry all the equipment and clothing you require for the duration of the tour. The huts are comfortable but basic with limited facilities. 

Any clothing or other items not required on the tour can be left in a travel bag at your first hotel ready for your return on the final night.

We recommend keeping the weight of your pack as light as possible. If you are new to alpine multi-day ski touring, try taking your pack out on the slopes before the tour to see how it feels. You quickly realise the benefit of ‘skiing light’.

If you are uncertain or need further information, don't hesitate to contact us.

  • When choosing clothing for ski touring you want to think light, warm and versatile. During the trip weather conditions will change and you’re likely to go from warm afternoons where you’ll be carrying most of your gear in your rucksack, to icy-cold mornings when you’re wearing everything to keep warm! Getting hold of the best and lightest kit available is always worth it and most of the major brands will be able to supply a suitable kit.

    This season, we’ve partnered with Ortovox to provide us with the very best safety kit and clothing. Our guides will all be decked out in the latest Ortovox jackets and trousers and will keep warm, dry and comfortable thanks to their technical wool base- and mid-layers. Our guides couldn’t recommend their kit more highly.


    • Roll neck rather than a scarf. We use and recommend the ‘Buff¹ ¬ a light, stretchable tube. Excellent despite the name! They do both a fleece/cotton version for warmth or just a cotton one (to keep the sun off).
    • Headwear to include warm hat and sun-cap or wide-brim hat for extra protection from the sun. Mountain Tracks fully supports the wearing of helmets for skiing, although not mandatory for any of our trips we do recommend them.
    • An outer shell jacket made of waterproof and breathable material like Gore-Tex or similar with a built-in hood. The lighter the better and so a shell is recommended rather than an insulated jacket.
    • 1-2 thin fleeces - rather than a thick layer between your skin and the outer shell - an approach which gives better heat retention and good flexibility. These tops are known as ‘mid layers’. The principle of ‘layering’ e.g. allowing you to easily add/remove layers depending on the temperature and the activity is recommended to ensure comfort on the mountain.
    • Insulation layer like a down or Primaloft jacket is a good item to have ready to wear in the event of cold weather, it can live in your rucksack as a spare layer and can come in very handy for sudden changes in the weather.
    • For the lower half it’s essential that you have a pair of thermal base layer pants (long johns).
    • These can then be combined with either:
    • (a) a good pair of ‘technical shell’ pants in a waterproof and breathable fabric like Gore-Tex (b) a pair of mountain or alpine pants in a softshell material together with a pair of lightweight, breathable over trousers with long side zips.
    • Top and bottom underwear made of a synthetic, wicking material. Very popular at the moment are the wool based layers from companies such as Ortovox. They are comfy, breathable and warm when needed and can be worn for days without your friends catching a whiff!
    • Good quality Gore-Tex gloves or mitts and a thin pair of softshell or fleece gloves for when it is hot and for ski touring in. Silk inner gloves can be useful if the weather is cold and you suffer from cold hands.
    • Technical Socks - Investing in good quality ski socks will improve fit, warmth and feel when skiing for long periods. Bring along a few pairs.
  • For all touring trips it is essential you ski with an all-mountain/freeride type skis, ski touring boots and ski touring bindings. If you have your own skis but they do not have ski touring bindings then you will need to rent skis. The same applies if you have downhill ski boots, you will need to rent ski touring boots.


    This winter our lead guides are using Salomon Explore MTN and Salomon QST touring skis. The MTN 95 is an award-winning ski with great stability at high speeds whilst the MTN 88 is a best-selling lightweight touring ski. The QST’s are slightly heavier and therefore suited to charging; perfect for day-touring.
    Lockwoods Ski and Outdoor are supporting our guides and we suggest that if you’re interested in any of the MTN or QST skis, you should make Lockwoods your first point of call. 

    For alpine ski touring we recommend an all-mountain/freeride touring ski that isn’t too heavy, a really lightweight ski comes at a cost to performance on the descents so are only recommended for really good off-piste skiers with a strong interest in ski touring.

    There are plenty of great skis to choose from and we highly recommend skis from the following manufacturers:
    Dynastar Skis: 
    Movement Skis:  
    Black Crows Skis:  
    Trab Skis: 
    Scott Skis:
    Volkl Skis:

    There are plenty of other great skis to choose from so if you’re planning on buying skis for ski touring or general skiing and have any questions do not hesitate to call us, or Lockwoods, to discuss the options available.

    If you are planning on buying skis for ski touring and general skiing and have any questions do not hesitate to call us to discuss the options available to you.

    It is essential that you have ski touring boots for all touring trips as walking uphill is much more comfortable in these types of boots with a walk mode and great flex. A dedicated touring boot or a hybrid freeride boot is best. 

    Scarpa have lead the way in touring boots for many years but they have been joined by other manufactures like Dynafit, Salomon, Scott, Black Diamond, Dalbello and K2; all producing their own versions of a ski touring boot.
    • Scarpa’s Freedom boots are their Hybrid offerings, great ski performance, a walk mode and vibram sole. Their Maestrale (men’s) and Gea (women’s) boots are also highly recommended.
    • The Scott Celeste and Cosmo boots have stood the test of time and are good all-round choices.
    • Salomon’s Quest Max series offer boots with a walk mode in various flex’s with good downhill performance.
    • Dynafit offer the Mercury or Vulcan boots plus a range of lightweight options like the TLT6.

    The best of the rest are:
    Fischer - Transalp
    Black Diamond – Quadrant and Factor
    K2 – Pinnacle boot
    Dalbello – Lupo or Sherpa
    Langue – XT series offer a ski boot with a walk mode in various flex options

    Boot Liners
    These days many manufacturers offer ‘thermo-fit¹ liners as standard equipment. You may also want to consider a custom liner as these are heated and molded to your foot and boot for a perfect fit. They can make all the difference especially if you have trouble finding really comfortable ‘off-the-shelf’ boots. Zipfit liners are a great option for anyone seeking total customisation in fit and comfort. They will replace the original liner.

    Custom Footbeds
    Essential kit – to provide additional comfort and ski control. If you want to get footbeds made or a pair of new boots fitted then we suggest you visit somewhere like Profeet for a professional fitting. Don’t forget if you have footbeds in your downhill boots but need to rent touring boots then you can bring the footbeds with you and put them in the hire boots.

    For all ski touring trips ski touring bindings are essential. Fritschi and Marker both make excellent ski touring bindings and you have a few different options to choose from. Many more people are seeing the advantage of the “pin” binding system now offered by a number of manufacturers as these are light and offer ever improving security despite their minimalist looks!

    It’s essential you have ski touring bindings on your skis. Although Pin bindings have been around since the Dynafit Low Tech bindings over 30 years ago, since their patent expired the technology has advanced substantially. Salomon, with their Shift Binding, are at the forefront; they’re ‘multi norm compatible’ so fit a selection of boots and are lighter than most freeride bindings. Our lead guides are using the Shift binding this winter, so if you’d like to know more about them give Lockwoods a ring.

    Ski Poles
    We recommend telescopic poles. They must have wide powder baskets (4-5 inches/100-120mm diameter) otherwise you’ll be up to your armpits on the ascents. Go for an alloy rather than carbon poles which are lighter but have a nasty habit of snapping near the basket due to ski edge nicks.

    For most ski tours especially multi-day hut-to-hut tours you will need a 35 - 40 litre rucksack. You might get away with a big 30 liter pack if you are an experienced ski tourer and know what to pack. Most people will find a 35-40 liter pack is a good size for touring.

    Key features of a good ski touring pack:

    • a method of attaching your skis in either an A-frame (one either side) or both together on a diagonal ski carriage
    • easy access into the main compartment without having to empty the sack to get something at the bottom
    • separate pocket for avalanche shovel, handle and probe
    • small top pocket for items like wallet, sunglassed/goggles etc; an ice axe loop
    • built-in rain cover and a secure method of attaching/stowing a ski helmet 
    • good hip/waist belt and adjustable shoulder straps

    Ortovox Haute Route 40 rucksack will be a good choice for ski touring trips. 

    Avalanche airbag rucksacks can be used for touring but they are heavy, adding somewhere between 5-8kg just for an empty pack plus canister. So unless you are sure you can carry it and fit all you need in, we do not recommend you use one. 

    Over a long multiday tour, every gram of weight is important as you have to carry and move it yourself. Carrying a heavy pack will hinder and tire all but the most experienced and fit ski tourer.


    • Ski Skins – these are skins which, now made of artificial fabric, stick to the bottom of your skis and allow you to walk up hill. They must be cut to fit your skis exactly, so if you are bringing your own skis you must provide your own skins.
    • Ski Crampons (aka couteaux) - most ski touring bindings have ski crampons specifically designed for the binding. We always carry these just in case. Again if you are bringing your skis and touring bindings you must provide your own ski crampons. 
    • Ice Axe - general lightweight mountaineering / alpine pick. Ideally this needs to be short enough to fit in your pack.
    • Boot Crampons - ideally lightweight aluminum ones although steel crampons are required for more demanding tours
    • Climbing Harness - a simple lightweight harness. The key feature is that it should have fully adjustable leg loops for putting on over ski boots, crampons, etc.

    On some tours in non-glaciated terrain an ice-axe, boot crampons and climbing harness may not always be required. However as conditions and itineraries can change we do generally recommend that you bring these items with you. If you do not own these items they can be rented to you by our guides or via one of the local sports shops.
  • The “Safety Trilogy” - required on all our ski tours and off-piste courses.

    • Avalanche Transceiver/Beacon
    • Snow shovel
    • Avalanche probe

    We recommend simple and intuitive ORTOVOX AVALANCHE RESCUE KIT 3+

    Remember it is not enough just to carry this equipment; you have to know how to use it.
    How about joining one of our specialist avalanche courses – check out
    • Good pair of ski goggles with a lens for low light is essential in the event of snow and poor visibility
    • Good quality sunglasses with 100% UV protection
    • 35 – 40 liter rucksack
    • 1 – 1.5 Liter water bottle – we don’t recommend hydration systems (e.g. camelbak) in winter as they can freeze.
    • Food – bring some of your favorite hill nibbles (chocolate, energy bars)*
    • Suncream and lip salve
    • Camera with a large capacity memory card!
    • Money – most hotels, shops and restaurants accept credit cards, but not all the alpine huts do. You should allow about 30-40 Swiss Francs or 20-30 Euros per day for lunch and drinks (amount approximate and depends on consumption)
    Please note that your guide will have a few “spares” and other safety items that he or she will ask the group to carry between them; so leave a small space in your sack for an item e.g. spare skin, spare ski pole, emergency shelter.

    For a hut night:
    • Lightweight sleeping bag liner – now compulsory in most huts.
    • Wash kit with small personal first aid items – should include:
    • Toothbrush and paste - a mini one is ideal
    • Soap
    • Anti-bacterial hand cleaner
    • Wet wipes – essential to try to maintain hygiene
    • Tissues and toilet roll
    • Plasters – of various sizes and possibly some adhesive wound dressings.
    • Pain Killers – aspirin or Paracetamol/Nurofen
    • Antiseptic cream or wipes
    • Blister kit – compeed and elastic tape to hold it in place (essential)!
    • (Note: Guides will have comprehensive first aid kits and are qualified in mountain first aid)
    • Small light quick dry towel e.g. a Lifeventure Soft fiber towel
    • Most huts have limited washing facilities
    • Earplugs – it can get quite noisy!
    • Headtorch - lightweight and carry spare batteries.
    • Book, pack of cards and or Ipod/MP3 player – It’s nice to have something to read or listen to when you are in the huts or to challenge your fellow travelers to a game of card. These items are not essential but if you have space you might appreciate them.
    What to wear in the hut
    We are often asked by people what they should wear in the hut. It's a good question as you don't want to carry many or any extra clothes with you if they are not required. In the winter you will probably end up wearing your base layer thermals (top & bottom) or you can carry a lightweight pair of loose trousers to wear around the hut in the afternoons/evenings. Your base layer top is what you will probably wear on your top half or you can carry a t-shirt to wear in the hut that can double to sleep in. 

    Food and Water
    We suggest you bring with you or buy in resort snack food that you can take out on the hill with you each day. Things like cereal bars, dried fruit and nuts, chocolate, sugary sweets or your favorite hill snacks. When you’re staying overnight in huts its best to take supplies for the days you are away. Huts do sell food but it’s expensive and sometimes stocks run low.
    If you have any food allergies or dietary requirements especially if you are a Coeliac (Gluten free) or have a dairy allergy we strongly recommend you bring some food with you that you can supplement your dinners with. The huts are fairly good at providing for vegetarians but less so for other dietary needs.
    You have to buy bottled water in the huts as usually any running water is non-potable. Bottled water is expensive in French and Swiss huts; you can be paying upto 12-16CHF per 1.5L bottle of water. So please ensure you budget for this cost.

  • Most resorts have ski shops that hire ski equipment and we try to provide relevant contact details for all our courses and tours.

    Prices do change by resort/country, but here’s an approximate guide to hire costs for 6-days hire:

    Touring Skis plus skins and ski crampons €150-180
    Touring boots €80-90 
    Boot Crampons €45-50
    Ice Axe €30-40
    Harness €20-30
    Helmet €20-30
    Transceiver/shovel/probe €75-80

    Our guides also generally have additional sets of safety equipment (transceiver/shovel/probe) which they hire out to clients for €65 for 6 days hire. Must be booked in advance.

Svaneti Region

View map

Georgia, a country at the intersection of Europe and Asia, is a former Soviet republic.  Its capital Tbilisi is know for the diverse architecture and mazelike cobblestone streets of its old town.

Its population is around 3.75million (2015) and its official language is Georgian.  Its situated in the Southern Caucasus and it is a very mountainous country with peaks rising to over 5,000m.

Georgia has recently enjoyed a huge upsurge in foreign visitors. This is due in part to the country's famed hospitality, friendly people, cultural history and world-famous wine.

The Svaneti Region is in the mountainous Northwestern Georgia. Closest airport is Kutaisi. The entire region is a UNESCO world heritage site and is the home to the Svan people. 

  • Insurance

    It is a condition of booking that you are insured for your chosen activity and the cover must include medical expenses, personal accident, personal liability, third party risks and rescue (including helicopter rescue). You are strongly advised also to take out cover against cancellation and curtailment.

    For UK residents Ski Club Travel Insurance may be a suitable option.

    For more details and to purchase a policy online visit
    If you need assistance arranging your personal insurance please let us know.

  • Travel to Georgia

    The plan is to fly to Kutaisi, Georgia's second city. From here it is a 3-4 hour transfer by road to Svaneti.

    Flights to the area are operated mainly by Wizzair. Please note that the majority of flights will require at least 1 change and you will arrive late, as there is +4 hours time difference.

    We recommend to check available flights.

    There will be a shared airport transfer provided for flights arriving at 11.10pm ( London Luton to Kutaisi). Drivers will wait for you in the arrival hall with a name on a card so you can find your way hustle free. 

    All our ski tours are led by our team of IFMGA Mountain Guides. The team is led by Olly Allen, Matt Dickinson and Nick Parks.
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