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Climbing program to Mount Ararat
Climbing program to Mount Gestola from Georgia

The topic of absurd prohibitions in Russia, which is revealed below on a single example of the situation with Mount Gestola, is actually much broader. It is applicable to many locations and areas of activity in the Russian Federation, where the government regulation and prohibitions cause enormous damage to the economy and development prospects.

Mount Ushba on the border of Russia and Georgia
Mount Ushba on the border of Russia and Georgia

For the realizing of the tourism activities, many areas and mountains on the territory of Russian Federation, in particular in the Caucasus, are closed or subjected to an excessive number of formalities. All the peaks of the Main Caucasian Range, historically inextricably linked with the history of mountaineering as a sport are prohibited for climbing. The main "magnet" of tourist traffic in Altai – Mount Belukha is accessible for climbing only from Kazakhstan, not from Russia, as well as the neighboring Altai mountains. The Queen of the Caucasus, the beautiful Mount Ushba, develops exclusively the economy of Georgia.

Climbing mount Belukha in Altai mountains
Climbing mount Belukha in Altai mountains

Any action associated with the spending of energy and resources must have a certain goal, the value of which must justify the costs of achieving it... Maybe I think in outdated patterns and cannot accept modern twists of logic. Recent events seem to confirm this idea...

Climbing in the massif of the Bezengi wall, Georgia
Climbing in the massif of the Bezengi wall, Georgia

Many peaks of the Caucasus have their own history intertwined with human deeds, exploits, events and achievements. Each peak is unique in its own way, there are no two similar ones... Nevertheless, below I will try to compare two completely different mountains, around which, today, a similar situation has developed...

Similar, but not quite alike. So, what is common between Mount Ararat and Mount Gestola?

Mount Ararat in Turkey
Mount Ararat in Turkey

Like most significant peaks, both of these mountains are located on the border of states - this is understandable, because from time immemorial times, territories have been divided between peoples according to landforms that make it difficult to move - along rivers, lakes, mountain ranges. Ideally - in the mountains, because the mountains are an insurmountable obstacle, a large natural fence.

Massif of the Bezengi Wall, the border between Russia and Georgia
Massif of the Bezengi Wall, the border between Russia and Georgia

Mount Ararat is a biblical peak, mentioned in various scriptures and inextricably linked with the history of our civilization. In addition, this is a symbolic peak for the people of Armenia - all the folklore, art of Armenian authors draws inspiration from the outline of this mountain soaring in the sky, which was located in the past on the territory of Armenia, and now is inaccessible to the residents of this country.

Mount Ararat, view from Yerevan
Mount Ararat, view from Yerevan

This inaccessibility is a great pain for the Armenian people, a constant reminder of the numerous tragedies of the last century.

The fact is that today Mount Ararat is in Turkey.

On top of Mount Ararat
On top of Mount Ararat

And, although this mountain is perfectly visible from Yerevan, it is inaccessible in about the same way as the craters on the moon. It is impossible to get to Mount Ararat from Armenia - like an evil smile of fate, the mountain shines with a huge snow dome over Erevan – the capital of Armenia, but not a single inhabitant of this city can get to its summit.

At the foot of Mount Ararat
At the foot of Mount Ararat

The inaccessibility of Ararat from Armenia is primarily due to the completely blocked communication between Armenia and Turkey, with a practically martial law between the countries. Of course, inaccessibility of Mount Ararat is not the main problem in Armenia today, but the situation with the ban on climbing illustrates well the thesis of my article, to which I just want to move now.

The peaks of Big and Small Ararat, view from the top of Mount Aragats
The peaks of Big and Small Ararat, view from the top of Mount Aragats

So you remember? Ararat is closed to Armenia because it is located on the territory of enemy and is locked up by the enemy. For no practical use, just to humiliate and insult other people.

Another, less known, but no less beautiful Caucasian peak – Mount Gestola, is also located on the border between states, between Russia and Georgia. This is one of the most beautiful peaks of the Main Caucasus, the decoration of the Bezengi wall, a copy and twin of Mount Tetnuld, famous peak in Georgia.

Gestola and Tetnuld
Gestola and Tetnuld

Mount Tetnuld and Mount Gestola are like twins, but Mount Tetnuld faces to the south, and Mount Gestola to the north. Today, Mount Tetnuld is extremely popular for climbing from Georgia; a modern network of cable cars and ski slopes has been built on the south side of the mountain.

View of Mount Gestola from the Bezengi gorge
View of Mount Gestola from the Bezengi gorge

A slightly different is the situation with Mount Gestola. Mount Gestola can be safely called the symbol of the Bezengi Gorge - this is the first and most memorable mountain in shape, which a tourist who has arrived in Bezengi sees. The silhouette of this mountain hurts the heart with its perfect geometry...

Mount Gestola, North Face
Mount Gestola, North Face

The analogy with Mount Ararat lies in the fact that climbing of Mount Gestola is also banned – climbing from the Russian side is impossible.

Who is the enemy who closed the opportunity for people to enjoy climbing the most beautiful mountain, who left the entire Bezengi region without a flow of tourists and the possibility of earning money?!

Classical profile of the Bezengi wall with Gestola peak
Classical profile of the Bezengi wall with Gestola peak

This is the paradox about which I began to write this text. Think about it: climbing Mount Gestola (as well as other peaks of the Main Caucasian Range) is prohibited by the Russian border service. The ban on climbing applies only to the citizens of Russia, since from this year foreigners have been denied access even to the border region.

Mount Gestola. Russian side, forbidden for climbing
Mount Gestola. Russian side, forbidden for climbing

But on the part of Georgia, a country included in the list of countries “hostile” to Russia, climbing is not only allowed, but is very welcomed in every possible way, as an additional source of tourist traffic. And this traffic, as you might guess, is needed to Georgia for the real development of the tourism infrastructure of the region, for the inflow of funds and the improvement of the well-being of the citizens. Citizens of Georgia, as you might guess.

At the summit of Mount Gestola, ascent from Georgia
At the summit of Mount Gestola, ascent from Georgia

So, in the bottom line, we have two prohibitions: one vile, but logical and understandable - an attempt to humiliate and suppress the historical enemy, weaken his will, thus obtaining a military advantage. With the second prohibition it is more difficult - who is trying to humiliate and oppress people in Russia and why?

In addition to the paradox of the situation, I can mention the attitude of the Georgian authorities towards foreign tourists, including those from Russia, that attitude is not at all “hostile”.

Paradox. In an exact translation from Greek, this word means something that is devoid of meaning and logic, or that has meaning and logic that is the opposite of its apparent meaning. I think this title illustrates well the situation you just read about.

The author of the text and photos - Alexey Trubachev

Your professional mountaineering, rockclimbing and iceclimbing guide

 MCS EDIT 2023

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AlexClimb Rule #1 - Safety First

From the very beginning of our activity, here nearly 16 years, the first Principle of work of School of mountaineering and rock-climbing of MCS AlexClimb is the Safety Priority. On the basis of this Principle all process of training is based, all programs and rounds are developed and carried out only within this main principle. We consider that at professional approach to development of programs, at personal discipline and correctly put motivation - occupations by mountaineering and rock-climbing are COMPLETELY safe. And from the return - all troubles and accidents in our sport come from nonprofessionalism, from ignorance or neglect by elementary standards of safety, from irrational motivation, from revaluation of own forces and opportunities. All these prerequisites we COMPLETELY EXCLUDE in our work - ours Rock-climbing, Ice climbing and Mountaineering are based on one Principle - the Safety Priority. In rock-climbing, mountaineering and ice climbing, the Priority of Safety of MCS AlexClimb-is your personal security and comfort irrespective of, than we are engaged - we train muscles and we work technology of the movement in the sports hall and on the rock climbing wall, we make the way through snowstorm to top or we relax on golden sand of the Caribbean beach after hot day of trainings on rocks. The Safety priority - the main credo of School of mountaineering and rock-climbing of MCS AlexClimb.

AlexClimb Rule #2 - Leave No Trace

Closely interacting with Nature, working with the active programs in mountains, woods, lakes and rivers, we perfectly understand the importance of carefull and respectfull bahavior towards the Nature, for its resources. From the very beginning of our outdoor-activity we adopted rules of  Leave No Trace technique - the standard of behavior of the person accepted in all the civilized world in relation to environment and especially - to the wild nature. After all on the relation of people to the nature near which they exist, itself can draw dalekoidushchy conclusions on the relation of these people to... Where and as we didn't travel - we don't reserve any garbage, we try to reduce whenever possible our influence on environment to a minimum. We clear earlier zagryazyonny tourist parking of the left garbage, we take out and we take out to utilization places that to us other people left there. We consider that only thus, at personal individual consciousness of each citizen, each tourist, climber or autotraveller, we will be able to keep the nature surrounding us in its state, natural, suitable for life, - in it pledge of the healthy future for ourselves and our children.

AlexClimb Rule #3 - Sober Concious

The position of AlexClimb Mountain and rockclimbing School regarding healthy lifestyle is quite clear - we consider that only sober consciousness is capable to fill sincere emotions,  to sympathize, to enjoy life in all its variety. Bright various enjoyable life is possible only on condition of keeping the absolute sobriety and purity of consciousness. Any way of obscuring our perception of reality is intended to do harm to our consciousness and bring harm to our physical health, to replace the true values by false ones, to destroy us physically - to turn us into flabby, weak, senseless, gray herd with empty hazy eyes. We don't force anybody to our point of view, everyone has a God's gift of making his own choice and to destroy himself if that is what he wants... But in AlexCilimb Mountain Climbing School we accept quite certain and very simple set of rules: neither alcohol, nor drugs.
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