Central Caucasus
Eastern Caucasus
Western Caucasus


        Caucasus is a mountainous country stretching along borders of  Europe and Asia in the limits of Russia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. The highest, axis  part of upland region expanding on 1100 km between Black and Caspian Seas in the North-West- South-East direction  is  called Great Caucasus.
        Great Caucasus mountains  are rather young by geology. The tectonic uplands, the relief is exposed by  intensive destructive influence of glaciers, rivers, wind erosion. Mountainous summits composed by firm rocks have peak, fortress  and pyramid forms.  The areas of soft rocks are presented by round  forms with flat tops  and sheer slopes.
       There  are  various of profiles of river valleys – from wide trough-formed made by ancient glaciers to narrow, impassable canions.
       This area has rather high seismic. The main part of Great Caucasus upland region is formed by two almost parallel and just the same by altitude ridges:  Glavny (Main) or Vodorazdelny (Watershed),  and Peredovoy transforming into Bokovoy (Side) on the East. Glavny ridge  stretches as unbroken mountain range, but Peredovoy and Bokovoy ridges  are alternating mountain mass parted by diametrical river plains.
       A number of wavy mountain ridges descending to the plain  the nearest of which named Scalisty (Rocky) and Pastbischny (Pasture) ridges consisting of  hollow from the East and steep to the South. The southern slope of Great Caucasus on the whole is shorter and steeper  than northern especially in the eastern part. It expands by  side  ridge-spurs: Khahetinsky, Khartlinsky, Rachinsky, Svanetsky, Khodorsky, Chhaltssky, Bzbsky, Gagrsky.
       Great Caucasus is divided into three parts: Western Caucasus, Central and Eastern ( with conventional borders by meridians crossing Elbrus and Khazbek).
       The climate of Great Caucasus is determined by its southern situating, by proximity of Black and Meditaranian  seas, and also by considerable mountain ridges altitude. Great Caucasus is a barrier  on the way of mass motion with  damp, warm air from the West. More precipitation is on the southern slopes, maximum quantity- in the western part where in highlands drops out more than 2500 mm per year(most of all – in our country). There is the precipitation quantity to the east – 600 mm per year. The northern slope of Great Caucasus on the whole is drier than southern.
       In Great Caucasus mountains which are on the not so extensive area are presented by  large set of climatic zones with  expressed belts according to the altitude:  Black seaside damp subtropics, chilly-continental (to the East till sub-desert) climate with hot summer and short and cold winter on Caucasus- forward plains; temperate continental climate of mountains-forward with considerable precipitation (especially in the western part) and much-snowy winter ( in Krasnaya Polyana (Red Field) area on the rivers Bzyb and Chhalta snowy cover reaches 5 m and even 8 m). There is cold and wet climate in the alpine glasslands, winter lasts for 7 months; average temperature of August, the warmest month is from 0 °C to +10 °C. There is so-called nival belt higher it where  the average temperature of warmest month isn’t higher 0 °C .
The precipitations here is snow or hail.
       At foothills January average temperatures are –5 °C in the North and from  +3 °C to +6 °C in the South: on  the altitude 2000 m –7-8 °C; on the 3000 m altitude  -12 °C; on the 4000 m altitude –17 °C. At  foothills July  average temperatures are +24 °C in the West; in the East  till  +29 °C; on the 2000 m altitude +14 °C; on the 3000 m altitude +8 °C; on  the  4000 m +2 °C.
       In Great Caucasus the snow-line height raising  from  West to South fluctuates in the limits of 2770-8900 m over sea level. Its average note  is different for northern and southern slopes. In Western Caucasus it accordingly 3010 and 3090 m, in Central  - 3360 and 3560 m, in Eastern – 3700 and 3800 m.
       Great Caucasus the modern covering with ice total square is 1780 sq. km. The number of glaciers – 2047, theirs tongues descend to absolute peaks: 2300-2700 m (Western Caucasus), 1950-2400 m (Central Caucasus), 2400-3200 m (Eastern Caucasus). The larger covering with ice part is the its northern  side. The distribution of covering with ice square between northern  and  southern sides  is: Western Caucasus –282 and 163 sq. km.; Central Caucasus -835 and 385 sq. km.; Eastern Caucasus – 114 and 1 sq. km.
       Caucasus glaciers have diverse forms. Here you can see grandiose and ice-falls with seraks, and ice grottos, “tables”, “mills”, deep cracks. Glaciers take out lots of fragment material which accumulates in the form of different moraines on sides and near the tongue of glacier.
       Great Caucasus is rather inhabited. On the 2000-2250 m altitude you can meet populated stations, industrial and agricultural enterprises.
       The main regional transport means is an automobile. Qualitative roads with firm cover are constructed to the most of stations, alpine grasslands have unpaved highways, in places of forest-falling and geological prospecting – tractor ruts. There are only three auto-roads in force crossing Glavny (Main) Caucasus ridge: Voenno-Gruzzinskaya (Military-Georgian) road (through "Cross" pass –2819 m), connecting Vladicaucasus and Tbilisy; under  Rokhsky pass  the tunnel has  made a hole on which there is a modern highway; Voenno-Osetinskaya (Military-Osetinskaya) road (through Mamisonsky pass –2819 m), accessible to high accessibility  autos and  during warm season only. Through Great Caucasus watershed passes are known long before through such  passes as: Sanchara (2600 m), Maruh (2740 m), Kluhor (2816 m), Donguzorun (3161 m), Tviber (3580 m), Gezevtsek (3465 m).
       Populated stations are connected by buses with district centers, some of them – by small aviation planes (Suhumy-Pshu, Mestiya-Khutaisy, Telavi-Omalo, Mahachkhala-Bezhda, Tlyarata, etc.). Helicopters is a great help in this region.
       Railway  roads  turn round mountains-forward of  Great Caucasus.  Short  brunches go to finish stations in  cities of Maikop, Labinsk, Cherkessk, Khislovodsk, Nalchik, Vladicaucasus, Buynaksk, Chiatura, Tshinvaly, Telavy that helps  in up-approaches to  the routs beginning and departure after  its  finish.
       Great Caucasus mountain-forward part  is well-mastered,  agriculture and industry  are  well-developed. There are a lot of towns here: Baku, Tbilisy, Khutaisy, Suhumy, Sochy,  Maikop, Cherkessk, Nalchic, Vladicaucasus and Mahachkhala.
       Comfortable geographical position, the proximity of country well-developed  regions  great cities,  the mountain-forward dense population – all this makes  Great Caucasus  one of the most visited by tourists  mountain region.  Here they have mountain routs for any qualification groups and conditions for holding of all tourist sport and teaching actions: competitions, meetings, gatherings,  schools, etc. The variety of landscapes and the abundance of historical and cultural monuments  make special beauty to Great Caucasus tracks. There are hundreds of different mountain 1-6 complication category routs. The acquaintance   with wonderful  land, its nature and history doesn’t go apart with the sport requirement execution.
      The most complicated routs are in Central Caucasus where there are about 20 of highest difficulty passes, 135 passes from 1A to 2A complication category and 82 passes from 2B to 3B  complication category. Great Caucasus high-mountain part has 170 1A-2A complication category  passes and 25 2B-3B complication category passes. Routs attract by high mountains with thick vegetation and proximity of Black seaside combination. During last time Eastern Caucasus with its wider territories approaches   to the main high-mountain passes, by the historical  monuments abundance and by specific nature. Here are 336 1A-2A complication category passes and 95  2B-3B complication category passes.
      The best time for trekking, backpacking, pass hopping, mountaineering and climbing in highlands – from 1 June to 30 September, moreover the most favourable period is from 15 June to 15 September. Today are popular 1-2 complication category treks in mountains with altitude less 3000 m in the first half of May just the same as mass climbings on Elbrus and Kazbek. During winter period ( early spring and autumn too) in connection with unstable weather, snowfalls and high avalanche danger in highlands are found only a few experienced tourists groups.

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