Could you please help me decide whether a "team" of two people needs a guide on their attempt to climb Mount Kazbek from the Georgian side? My doubts come from a passage from this site (in Polish), translated below:

Kazbek is not an easy mountain to climb and requires appropriate equipment and elementary climbing (protection) skills and familiarity with hiking on glaciers. (...) The safest is to climb the summit assisted by a local guide (...) The cost of a guide is around $100 per person.

The two of us are 23-25 years old, fit. One climbed Kilimanjaro, we both hiked in Polish Tatras in the winter, but we don't have any experience in climbing glaciers, protecting ourselves with ropes etc. We know how to do it, we just didn't have a chance to practice in a mountain setting.

It would be more challenging and satisfying to climb Kazbek by ourselves, but we don't want to take unnecessary risks.


2 Answers 2


Being young, athletic, fit and having great conditions won't help you if you are missing experience in techniques/tactics required when going over glaciers. Kilimanjaro is a high altitude mountain, but it is technically easy. You don't have to touch a glacier there so it's not really a good reference.

Therefore I would highly suggest to hire a guide at least the first time going on a glacier. You need to know how to walk as a rope team and you need to train crevasse rescue. That being said, going as a duo-rope-team should only be done by very experienced mountaineers. Crevasse rescue is very tough and technically challenging when there is only one guy on the bright side of the glacier...

100 bucks isn't that much for a guide plus you will learn really a lot on that tour. Go for it, hire a guide and enjoy!


While experience from winter hiking and climbing (its more high altitude trekking) Kilimanjaro will be of use in the approach and for having some idea of how you react to high altitude it is still not at all sufficient for climbing this peaks. According to internet sources there are glaciers, seracs, zones with rockfall and a steep of ~45deg. This is a serious mountaineering undertaking which apart from technic also requires experience to judge the dangers. Especially the glacier which is described as a labirynth of crevasses in combination with dangers from rockfall and seracs makes local knowledge of a guide very valuable.

In short: Having no previous mountaineering experience it is essential to hire a guide for such a tour.

Additionally you will profit a lot from his knowledge and will be able to enjoy the trip. If you insist on doing it unguided you first need to get the technical knowledge (look for courses by mountain/guide organisations) and apply it on easier tours to get experience. With that you will also get a feeling for how challenging such a trip is and whether you are able to master it.

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