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Mount Kazbek: The Mythical Georgian Mountain

Mount Kazbek, also known as Mkinvartsveri, is a dormant stratovolcano and one of the highest peaks in the Caucasus Mountains (one of the most famous mountain ranges in the world). Located on the border between Georgia and Russia, Mount Kazbek is a truly stunning mountain.

The mountain is known as the highest in Eastern Georgia and the third highest in the country (it follows closely behind Mt. Shkhara (17,070') and Mt. Janga (16,683')).

The mountain is best known for its association with the story of Prometheus, which you can read about below.

In this article, we'll explore the location, history, and facts about this iconic mountain.

Mount Kazbek


Mount Kazbek is located in the northern part of Georgia, near the border with Russia.

The mountain is part of the Greater Caucasus Range, which stretches over 1,100 kilometers (680 miles) from the Black Sea in the west to the Caspian Sea in the east. The Khokh Range, which it's also a part of, runs along the northern part of the Caucuses.

The area it's in is highly tectonically active, and many earthquakes are regularly recorded nearby. Visitors to the area may also notice the higher-than-average number of hot springs in this area of Georgia too.

The closest major city to Mount Kazbek is Tbilisi, which is located about 150 kilometers (93 miles) to the south.

Mount Kazbek Sunny

Mount Kazbek: At a Glance

  • Location: Caucasus Mountains, Georgia/Russia

  • Height: 16,516 feet (5,034 meters)

  • Mountain Range: Caucasus Range (specifically the Khokh Range)

  • Prominence: 7,720 feet (2,353 meters)

  • First Ascent: 1868 by D. W. Freshfield, W. A. B. Coolidge, and A. F. Mummery

  • Interesting Fact: According to Georgian mythology, Mount Kazbek was where Prometheus was chained after stealing fire from the Gods.

  • Glaciers: Dyevdorak, Gergeti, Abano, Chata, Mna, Denkara. (Recently, the Kolka Glacier collapsed.)

Mount Kazbek From Afar

Mount Kazbek and Prometheus

Mount Kazbek, which rises to 16,516 feet, is well-known as a part of Georgian folklore. the mountain features in the Georgian version of the story of Prometheus. In the story, Prometheus was chained in a cave on the mountain.

He was famously punished for stealing fire from the Gods in order to better the lives of mortals. The cave, the legend says, is around 4,000 meters or 13,000 feet up the mountainside.


Mount Kazbek's climate is considered to be subarctic, with temperatures ranging from -8°C to -18°C in winter and from 5°C to 10°C in summer. The mountain receives heavy snowfall throughout the year, making it a popular destination for skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts.

Mount Kazbek Summit


The region around Mount Kazbek is home to a variety of wildlife, including the endangered Caucasian lynx, the bezoar ibex, and the Caucasian tur. Other notable species include wolves, bears, eagles, and vultures.

Cultural Significance

In addition to its role in Georgian mythology, Mount Kazbek is also considered a sacred site by the local communities, who believe that the mountain is home to powerful spirits and deities.

The Gergeti Trinity Church, a 14th-century Georgian Orthodox church, is located near the base of the mountain and is a popular pilgrimage site for the locals.

Interest Facts about Mount Kazbek

  1. Mount Kazbek is the third-highest mountain in Georgia, after Shkhara and Janga.

  2. The mountain is a stratovolcano and has erupted several times in the past, with the most recent eruption occurring around 800 AD.

  3. Mount Kazbek is known for its stunning glaciers, including the Devdoraki Glacier, one of the largest glaciers in the Caucasus Mountains.

  4. The mountain is named after Saint Kazbek, a Christian martyr who was executed by the Persian Sassanid Empire in the 4th century AD.

  5. The first recorded ascent of Mount Kazbek was in 1868 by a British expedition led by D. W. Freshfield, W. A. B. Coolidge, and A. F. Mummery.

Mount Kazbek in the Clouds

What's in a Name?

The name of Mt. Kazbek, like many mountains around the world, is debated. It's unclear where exactly the name came from or even exactly what it means.

Many claim that the mountain was named after a nobleman, while others have pointed out that the word "Kazbek" comes from the Kabardian language and means something close to "nobleman."

The Georgian name for the mountain, Mqinvartsveri, means "glacier peak." while yet another name for the mountain, Bashlam, means "Molten Mount."

Climbing History

Mount Kazbek has a long history of climbing, dating back to the late 19th century. The first recorded ascent of the mountain was in 1868 by a British expedition led by D. W. Freshfield, W. A. B. Coolidge, and A. F. Mummery.

Mount Kazbek Summer

Since then, Mount Kazbek has become a popular destination for mountaineers from around the world, with several routes to the summit ranging in difficulty from relatively easy to extremely challenging.

Interestingly, soon after the first ascent, a famous female alpinist, Maria Preobrazhenskaya, made the first female ascent of the peak (she would climb it 8 more times during her life).

Mountains Nearby

In addition to Mount Kazbek, the Caucasus Mountains of Georgia and Russia are home to several other notable peaks. Some of the most popular include:


The highest peak in Georgia

Shkhara, the tallest mountain in Georgia

Located about 100 kilometers (62 miles) to the west of Mount Kazbek, Shkhara is the highest peak in Georgia and the third-highest peak in the Caucasus Range, standing at 16,627 feet (5,068 meters).


One of the "7 Summits"

Mount Elbrus
Mount Elbrus, the tallest mountain in Europe

Located about 130 kilometers (81 miles) to the northeast of Mount Kazbek, Elbrus is the highest peak in the Caucasus Mountains and the highest mountain in Europe, standing at 18,510 feet (5,642 meters).


Known as the "Matterhorn of the Caucasus"

Located about 100 kilometers (62 miles) to the northwest of Mount Kazbek, Ushba is known for its striking twin summits and is considered one of the most challenging peaks in the Caucasus Range.


Like many natural areas around the world, the region around Mount Kazbek is facing a number of environmental challenges, including climate change, habitat loss, and unsustainable tourism. Organizations like the Caucasus Nature Fund are working to support conservation efforts in the region and protect the unique biodiversity of the Caucasus Mountains for future generations.


Is Mount Kazbek an active volcano?

No, Mount Kazbek is a dormant stratovolcano, which means that it has not erupted in a long time but could potentially erupt in the future.

Is it safe to climb Mount Kazbek?

Climbing Mount Kazbek can be dangerous, especially for inexperienced climbers or those without proper gear and training. It's important to hire a reputable guide and follow all safety protocols to minimize risks.

What is the best time of year to climb Mount Kazbek?

The best time to climb Mount Kazbek is during the summer months, from June to September when the weather is more stable and the mountain is less likely to be covered in snow and ice. However, weather conditions can still be unpredictable, so it's important to plan accordingly.

How tall is Mount Kazbek?

Mount Kazbek is the third-tallest mountain in Georgia. It's 16,516 feet or 5,034 meters tall.

How long does it take to climb Mount Kazbek?

The length of time it takes to climb Mount Kazbek depends on the route taken and the experience level of the climbers. Some routes can be completed in as little as two days, while others may take up to a week.

Is it possible to hike to the top of Mount Kazbek without climbing gear?

No, reaching the summit of Mount Kazbek requires proper climbing gear and training. It's not recommended to attempt the climb without the necessary equipment and experience.

What is the closest major city to Mount Kazbek?

The closest major city to Mount Kazbek is Tbilisi, which is located about 150 kilometers (93 miles) to the south.

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