WINTER IN GEORGIA
I won´t deny it - I focus on summer hiking and only rarely hike on snow. Still, more and more people are coming to Georgia also in winter and keep asking me about activities in the mountains during this period. So I prepared this short summary of what can be done - which hiking trails can be tackled also in winter, few words about skiing and so on.
Just keep in mind that for almost all “hiking” trails you will need proper equipment - in waist-deep snow, you won´t get anywhere in mere hiking shoes. You can pick either snowshoes or cross-country skis. Snowshoes are more suitable for beginners since it´s easier to use them and you don´t need special shoes - they can be attached to hiking boots. On the downside, you will be only half as fast compared to your “summer” walking speed so they are suitable only for some shorter trails.
For serious ski-touring, you will need cross-country skis - those are much faster but have the steeper learning curve and you will need special shoes. And you will also need alpine skis if you are interested in classic downhill skiing - luckily, all this equipment can be rented at mountain resorts.
OK, and now take a look at the individual mountain regions, from the west to the east…
UNESCO Heritage site Svaneti offers a wide range of outdoor activities not only in summer but also in winter. On a relatively small area, you can find two brand new skiing resorts.
Hatsvali resort, opened in 2011 lies south of to Mestia and offers runs for beginners and intermediates. The upper cable car station lies on the top of Zuruldi ridge at the elevation of 2350m. The resort is now more accessible than ever since for the 2017/2018 skiing season was built a new cable car line which can bring people up onto slopes from the edge of Mestia.