American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Shkhara Main, Partial Ski Descent

Georgia, Caucasus

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Author: Peter Schön
  • Climb Year: 2010
  • Publication Year: 2019


In the summer of 2010
, Boris Avdeev (an American resident) and I went to the Caucasus, where we climbed Shkhara (5,193m) by the Beknu Route on the south pillar (2,200m, 5B 55°). I was then able to make a partial ski descent of this route, from the summit down to a cliff at 4,300m; above that point most of it was skiable—only now and again did I need to take off skis. It was one of my hardest climbs and definitely my most difficult ski descent—arguably the most difficult ski line in the Caucasus. That visit was one of the most enjoyable and successful I have made to this region, resulting in new geological data and the first accurate elevation survey of the summit. (See also this article.) Sadly, it was our last journey together, as in 2012 Boris died in an avalanche on Mt. Dana in California. He was an exceptionally strong climber, a brilliant geologist, and a young, intellectual, joyful man embracing life to the fullest.

– Peter Schön, Austria

Editor's note: From 2006 to 2013, Peter Schön and various partners made numerous ski descents in the Caucasus, including the first known descent of Mkinvartsveri (a.k.a. Kazbek, 5,034m), via the southeast face direct, as well as the first descent of the northeast face; a partial ski descent of Janga-Tau (5,058m), first ski descents on Chatyn-Tau West (4,310m), and the first known ski descent of the northeast face of Ortsveri (4,350m).

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