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Classic Climbs in the Caucasus

Classic Climbs in the Caucasus. Friedrich Bender, translated by Jill Neate. Diadem Books, London, Menasha Ridge Press, Birmingham, Alabama, 1992. 316 pages. Photographs, maps. $24.95.

This beautiful pocket-sized volume is sure dramatically to increase outsider climber traffic and route development in the Caucasus, which has been in a geopolitical time warp for half a century. Thanks to the collapse of the Soviet state, and its defunct bureaucracy of climbing and travel restrictions, large numbers of Western climbers will now be drawn to “this mysterious and as yet not overrun mountain world of glaciated four- and five-thousand metre peaks,” to quote from Bender’s introduction. He’s culled 80 selected climbs in the Elbrus and Bezingi regions of the Svanetian Range from his large German guides to the region. These are presented with magnificent photographs, sketches, maps and short route descriptions, plus advice about travel and accommodations en route to the peaks.

John Thackray