In this article I will tell you about my one-day trip to one of the most accessible three-thousanders of North Ossetia – Mount Kai-Khokh (3068 m), located in the Kurtatinsky Gorge.
This is my first such trip to real mountains during a month-long stay in Vladikavkaz. If it weren’t for my friends who advised me to look into the “cart” of the local tourist club “Your Height”, which organizes one-day trips to the mountains for very modest money, I probably would never have gotten here. < /p>
My hike cost 800 rubles for 1 person. This included a transfer (65 km from Vladikavkaz, travel time about 1 hour), as well as a guide. Agree, at a time when cinemas charge 500 rubles for an entrance ticket, this is a very adequate price tag for 1 day spent in nature, also on such a charming one.
How to participate in such an event? – Subscribe to the telegram or instagram of this club. Several times a week there are announcements of upcoming trips. Groups are usually small (8-12 people), so if you find an interesting route – call, sign up, don't delay, otherwise there may not be enough space in the gazelle. Payment by bank transfer. It's all very simple.
I signed up 2 days before the trip, listened to the instructions on the phone. I was advised to bring a raincoat, sunscreen, comfortable shoes, a warm jacket (I took a fleece), something to eat and water (1.5 liters), since there were no places expected to get water on the route.
Our trip started at 7 am in the center of Vladikavkaz – st. Kirova, 47. I arrived at about 6:45, and there was only a gazelle with a driver, a guide and one of the participants. That is, it makes no sense to come here in advance for half an hour. Arrive in 10-15 minutes, and you will have time.
Meeting the participants at Kirova 47
There were 8 of us on this trip and I’ll get ahead of myself – an excellent guide George (or Gia, in a narrow circle).
On the way, it turned out that some participants did not take raincoats with them and did not stock up on enough water, along with this, since according to the forecast it could rain, we stopped at several shops along the way. It was early in the morning, but it was difficult to find raincoats the first time. Therefore, take all this with you in advance.
On the way, with whom I was traveling in a gazelka, many of them got to know each other. Most of the participants in our trip were locals. For me, who rarely travels in a group, it was an interesting experience. I consider myself really lucky. After all, I haven’t communicated with so many new interesting people at once for a long time.
When we left the main road to the mountain serpentine, the first road surprise awaited us – our gazelle overheated and died out.
The first breakdown of the Gazelle
We missed our drop off point by almost 6.5 kilometers (about 1.5 hours of walking). But that was not all, our landing point was three kilometers from the place to which we were striving, from where the most interesting part of our route, the Shop of Happiness, began, as it were. I will tell about it below. That is, we had to walk almost 9.5 kilometers on foot through the mountains in rather hot sunny weather. It's about a 3 hour journey.
From here, the Gazelle went light without us
At the same time, our gazelle tried to overcome a short distance lightly without us, but it turned out to be difficult for her to do it.
Gazelle passed a small section without us, let's go to it
Now we will find out that we will have to go further on foot
In the end, it was decided to go on foot. We took our backpacks and went first along the road, and then decided to take a shortcut up the slope.
Start of our unplanned hiking route
Shortened the way – go up the slope
After walking for about 20 minutes in the heat and already tired, we saw a construction change house, conveniently located near a tree with a shadow. Went there to take a break. The guy who came out gave us chairs to sit in order to rest, but, having learned about our “trouble” with the gazelle, he offered to give us a lift in his car.
View from under a shady tree
You have no idea how happy I was at that moment. I simply did not imagine how we would walk up the mountain for such a long distance, and then begin our main ascent. But, in the end, this whole situation was resolved, and we plunged into the interior and body of the UAZ of this generous person, so we were able to quickly get to our starting point.
We plunged into the body of the UAZ
View of the road from the body of the UAZ
Bukhanka is the most passable transport here
Mountain and serpentine view
Saying goodbye to our kind driver
The beginning of the original walking route
We were dropped off 3 kilometers from the Shop of Happiness, and we went on foot. Everyone has more optimism than half an hour ago.
These 3 kilometers are a narrow mountainous winding road, which, in principle, can be driven by any car, although many guidebooks say that you can only get there by SUV. The path here is really difficult: in some places the road is badly broken and there are many holes, and in some places it is so narrow that two cars cannot pass.
But since we were walking, we were not particularly worried. On the way, wonderful mountain landscapes with colorful flowers and whole glades of Rhododendrons that have not yet blossomed opened up.
Views on the way to the Shop of Happiness
Here are the blossoming Rhododendrons
Some more bright flowers
In about 40 minutes we reached the “Shop of Happiness” – a bench with the inscription “Happiness is not far off, it is in the mountains.” This place became popular after a young man placed a bench in honor of his beloved in a good place on the top of the mountain. It is located in the Arkhon Pass at an altitude of about 2200 meters and is a popular tourist destination, as well as a hit on the social network Instagram.
Here is the Shop of Happiness
From here you can enjoy breathtaking views of the snow-capped peaks of neighboring mountains.
View of the snowy four-thousanders
Multi-colored slopes with different flowers
But we did not immediately approach Lavochka itself, because we planned to visit it on the way back. However, later we regretted that at first we didn’t go there to take pictures, because on the way back the clouds thickened and covered all the landscapes there. Keep that in mind!
We went past, further to our goal – to the top of Mount Kai-hokh. Literally after half a kilometer, the views around us began to change dramatically: the greenery became less and less, snowy areas began to occur, and then along the way we observed only rocky and rocky landscapes with small patches of rare vegetation with glades of Rhododendrons.
< /p>Snow patches occur on the northern slopes
Going past snowy areas
Landscapes are getting gloomier, less and less green
The beginning of the most difficult section – rocky
Only stones and sparse vegetation
Our path became steeper, in some places we had to climb between the stones, and the gaps for rest became more and more frequent.  ;
It is better to take trekking poles for such trips
View of the route traveled
The route gets steeper
On the right you can see the road where we came from
Another break, listening to instructions from the guide
The higher we climbed, the worse the weather became, clouds appeared, due to which visibility on one side of the mountain dropped to almost zero.
Finally, we got almost to the very top. Here we rested a little, left our backpacks and went light to the top. It's 5 minutes to her. Then we'll come back here for lunch.
Clouds are already rising from the other slope
Visibility starts to drop
The mountain range still holds them back, but they will still come to us
And already at the very top it began to rain and thunder began to be heard.< /p>
Trying to capture clouds crossing the ridge
We had to dress up in raincoats
As a result, by 13:30 we reached the end point of our route to the top of Kai-hokh. By this time, I was already quite tired (and I was not the only one), I began to feel a little nauseous, a runny nose appeared and my eyes began to water. Probably, such a reaction of the body was associated with the altitude and the fact that this was my first such active hike in 20 years, apparently my body was not quite ready for such an unusual mountain trip. The organizers warned that the route was rather difficult for beginners!
Common photo for memory
Enjoying our stay at the top of Kai-Khokh
Happy and tired
Because we were covered by clouds, we were unable to capture the declared gorgeous 360° views around the Kai-hoh peak. This did not upset me at all, it was more pleasant for me to go this route in cool weather than in the sun. Of course, when we climbed to the very top, the weather would change and it would become like a couple of hours earlier sunny, but alas .. the weather had other plans.
By the way, despite the fact that it was overcast and drizzling, it felt like my face was on fire. Solar activity is super high here. Previously, while still in the gazelles, I smeared my face with a neck and ears with sunscreen. And the whole trip was in a jacket with long sleeves, so I didn’t get burned. But my hands, which I did not smear in the area of u200bu200bthe brushes, burned a little.
We spent about half an hour at the very top, and went down a little lower to have lunch. In total, with lunch, we spent about 1.5 hours here and then began to descend. By this point, the visibility on both sides of the mountain had deteriorated significantly, and we had to be vigilant not to fall and provoke rocks to fall on the members of the group walking below. When moving stones, you need to shout “Beware of the stone.” 8842a3a.jpg” alt=”Climbing Mount Kai-hokh in North Ossetia” />
Visibility dropped sharply
And we became very careful and careful
Going down is of course easier than going up
Trekking poles are a great help when descending.
After descending half a kilometer lower, the visibility was the same. Glades of Rhododendrons began to meet again.
Resting in a glade of Rhododendrons
And here is our path towards the Shop of Happiness
A little bit of meditation and you need to hit the road again
Then we went down even lower, it became easier to go and we headed towards the Shop of Happiness.
The most inconvenient thing is walking on such rocky areas
Such beauty sometimes manages to grow right in the rocks
The weather around the bench also changed, by the time we reached it, clouds had also come in, covering the wonderful views.
The famous bench of Ossetia
Bench of Happiness
Clouds are going to spoil our pictures
Shop of Happiness
Shop of Happiness – Happiness is not far off, it is in the mountains
So our hike ended – let's go back
It was already about 17:00 and on this our trip came to its logical end. After another 40 minutes, we reached the Gazelle, which finally reached the point we needed. And we went back to Vladikavkaz.
What is the result:
In general, I liked the route, but it is better to visit the Happiness Shop at the beginning and at the end route, then the probability of taking good photos will increase. I liked the guide George – cheerful, friendly and attentive. Gazelle failure did not upset, well, yes, this sometimes happens. Given the cost of the trip, you can “close” your eyes to this. Be sure to bring sunscreen, a raincoat and at least 1.5 liters of water. I would also recommend bringing trekking poles with you. As for food, I took a lot of things with me and then I had to lug it all back. You can’t litter on the mountain, including organic products. Take at least enough for lunch and one snack.
A trip to the gorge Tsmiakom for the flowering of rhododendrons
A trip to the Aktoprak pass, Chegem waterfalls and Gizhgit lake
Chegem waterfalls – what to see, and is it worth going here at all?