Summiting Europe’s Second Highest Peak

About the Mountain

Dych-Tau, Europe’s second highest peak, is one of the Caucasian Peaks and faces the Bezingi Wall across from the Bezingi Glacier. It is also the second highest peak of the Caucasus Mountains, after Mount Elbrus. This massive mountain is topped by two identical towers–the lower eastern peak is 16,900 feet high and is separated from the main peak by a steep, narrow saddle. Dych-Tau is incredibly steep on all sides, and is composed mainly of snow and ice. To make climbing even more difficult, windswept rock walls and ridges are interlaced throughout.

Dych-Tau is especially known for the technical skill required to climb the mountain and its frequent avalanches. With no easy path to the summit, this climb is a challenge for an experienced mountain climber.

Traveling to Dykh-Tau

Located in Kabardino-Balkaria, Russia, at the western end of the Northern Massif in Bezengi and about 5 miles north of Georgia, this mountain is best accessed from the north of Russia. You can reach Bezingi from Nalchik in Kabardino-Balkaria, though public transportation is no frequent. From here, hire a 4 wheel drive vehicle and driver to reach the Bezingi Alpine Camp, at 2180 meters.


Climbing Dykh-Tau

The most common path to take, the North Ridge, was first climbed in 1888 by an Austrian team under the command of world-famous climber John Garford Cokkin. Since then, the route still attracts climbers from around the world to experience the beautiful and majestic views. The legendary means ascending this mountain is a goal of all climbers, however experienced. However, this is one of the most intense climbs anywhere in the world–it’s classified as a 4A in the Russian grade, which is comparable with an AD+ in the European system. In other words, this climb makes great physical and mental demands of its climbers.

Want the challenge? You’ll undoubtedly see breathtaking views and sites not comparable to anywhere else in the world, but above all, know how to be safe. You should be an experienced climber if you want to take this on, but remember that you should have a highly qualified professional guide leading your party. This guarantees the highest level of safety.

There is no summit fee necessary to climb the second-highest peak in Europe. However, you do have to register at Camp Bezengi and pay the National Park fee of €3 per day (about $4.09). This fee isn’t for nothing, and includes free camping, rescue services, and free access to Camp Bezengi’s library, which includes important information for your climb. There is also a training room, sauna, safe deposit box, and gear storage available.

Because routes on Dych-Tau are so dangerous, all climbers are required to borrow and walkie-talkie from the base, free of charge. Unless you are a large party of particularly experienced climbers, you will also be obligated to report to based every 3 hours.

Camp Benzengi may seem like it has a lot of rules, but they’re all meant to keep you safer. Contact the camp directly if you have any concerns.

The equipment, accommodations, travel, and hiring of a guide means this will likely be an expensive endeavor. Make sure and plan expenses in advance and very carefully–too often, climbers try and cut corners and end up sacrificing their safety. Know ahead of time how much it will cost to make this a safe climb!

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Lucas Fiorese

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