The next day I planned to reach mount Kazbek’s Gergeti glacier, visiting the Tsminda Sameba (“holy trinity”) church on the way. Exhausted after yesterday’s hike Oxanna stayed back to rest and I set out on the way with Ian, an English guy we met earlier.
Leaving Gergeti village and steadily climbing up I quickly became short-breathed. Cursing myself for leaving back my inhaler, I was making frequent stops to catch breath. After 3 hours of strenuous climb we reached Tsminda Sameba. Protected from chilly wind by surrounding church walls, we sat for a lunch break, sharing lavash and cheese.
Leaving the church behind we set out towards the glacier. Moving slowly and resting often I was learning how to avoid shortness of breath.
With mount Kazbek always out of sight, hidden away by the next hillside ridge we were getting tired and anxious to get to a higher ground where we could at least see where we are heading. As we were getting higher, the temperate climate montane forests were giving away to sub-alpine vegetation.
Finally, at 15:30, 3 hours after leaving the church we reached a ridge top from where mount Kazbek appeared in the clouds. Exhausted, with the glacier itself nowhere in sight, we decided to stop at the cross. With only 3 hours of daylight left, continuing forward would have been risky.
The way down was much quicker, with enough time for last photos of the church.
9 hours after we left, exhausted but satisfied we were back in Gergeti village. This has been the most difficult trek I did since the mountain hike in Sayan mountains 3 years before.