Tucked away in the mountains about 3 hours drive from Tbilisi you will find the Village of Juta and the stunningly beautiful Chauki Range nearby. This is a great area for escaping into the mountains no matter what the season. In the summer, it is a great area for hiking, camping, mountain biking, climbing, or for just taking in the mountain scenery while you sip a cold beer, sun your face, and breath in the fresh alpine air. From late spring until early fall it is possible to drive your car all the way to Juta. There are a number of hotels, hostels, guesthouses, and campgrounds where you can rest for the night or recover from your day’s adventure.
The Chauki Massif itself if composed of several distinct summits, the highest being Asatiani at 3842 m. There are a number of climbing and mountaineering routes ranging in difficulty from beginner to highly technical. If you’re not into technical climbing, that’s okay. There are many hiking options from easy to strenuous in the area. One popular trekking route takes you from Juta over Chauki Pass and down to the village of Roshka on the other side of the mountain in the Khevsureti Region. There you will be treated to a view of the glacier and the colorful Abudelauari Lakes. This hike is particularly enjoyable in the autumn when the colors are changing and the weather is crisp.
While this area is splendid to visit year round, my favorite time to visit Chauki is winter. It is silent and stunning in the snow. What’s more, you are unlikely to run into others as the road to Juta is blocked by avalanches and impassable by car for the duration of winter. You can, however, still approach on skis. Due to the high avalanche risk in the road corridor and the treacherous drop offs along the slide paths, it is recommended that you take a local guide. Once you reach the village you will find that it is nearly deserted in winter. Only a few people stay through the year to watch after their animals and livestock. This solitude only adds to the magic of Juta in winter.
It’s definitely worth the trip as there are plenty of ski touring options in the area from easy, intermediate, and all the way to advanced ski mountaineering. While it’s possible to make a day tour to Juta it is recommended to stay for multiple nights during the winter. Because the approach up and down the road eats up so much time you won’t have the opportunity to reach the slopes of Chauki Massif, which is the real gem. There are a number of steep couloirs and open powder fields at the higher elevations. There are some limited options for lodging or basic shelter in the wintertime if you know who to ask. For the real adventurer, you can bring a tent and your expedition gear and sleep wild out in the snow.
But the backcountry fun doesn’t end with winter. Snow persists at the higher elevations long after the road opens up again and it is possible to continue skiing in Chauki until late spring/early summer. If your interested in exploring the four season opportunities this fantastic range has to offer, then please get in touch with us. We can organize a custom adventure for you.
Luke Waldron Davis