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About | Mountains | Glaciers | Rivers | Lakes

Caucasus Glaciers

More than 2,000 glaciers cover 1,450 km in the Greater Caucasus Range, which occupy only a tiny fraction of its total area. Some seven-tenths of them occur on the cooler northern face, with a concentration on the higher central slopes. The largest-notably Dykhsu, Bezengi, and Karaugom glaciers on the northern face and Lekzyr and Tsanner glaciers in western Georgia-are often seven miles or so long. The desolate flanks of Mount Elbrus are streaked by many glaciers. About 40 region glaciers have the square exseeding 5 sq. km.. and five of them (Dihsu, Bezengy, Karaugom, Lekzir and Tsanner) have the square of approximately 40 sq. km each.

The Bezengi glacier, at 18km (12 mi) long, is the biggest of them all, a country in itself, a day trip, a wonderful beauty while the sky is clear, and a potential nightmare when the fog comes. The Bezengi glacier has withdrawn so much in the last 3 decades that the path that made its way along the slopes above the glacier is all but gone by now - once the ice retreated, the grassy slope lost its support and gradually slid down, leaving a dangerously steep maze of rock and mud.

Ullu-Chiran Glacier is the lengthiest glacier in the Caucasus, stretches 17 km down the canyon from the foot of this mountain wall. Ullu-Chiran, which is the source of Kyzyl-Su River, is located the Balk -Bashi Pass and gives beginning to the Kyzylkom River. The glacier is formed, during last glacial age and for 12 thousand years of existence was not exposed to pollution

The Kundyum Mizhirgi glacier in the neighbouring valley is almost as huge; its branch descends in four giant steps from the slopes of Koshtan-tau

Karaugom glacier is the one of the largest glaciers in Caucasus. It is located in the Main ridge of the Big Caucasus, in Urukh river basin (Northern Ossetia), to the east from Digoriya. It has the length of 13,5 km. There is the source of the Karaugom river.

There are the most giant glaciers on Bezengiyskaya wall, Elbrus and Kazbek in that area.

The glacier table of Elbrus is more than 140 sq. km. 77 minor glaciers radiate from the Elbrus ice cap and some of them reach 400m in thickness. Among the most significant glaciers flowing from Elbrus are:

Bolshoi (Greater) Azau glacier (area 23, 9.28 km long) is descended from a plateau Hotu-Tau. Large Azau is the largest of Elbrus region glaciers, which length is more than 10 km.

Malyi (Small) Azauglacier (8.49, 7.58 km long) flow is broken as a waterfall. Waterfall Azau flowing down
the Maly Azau Glacier.

Other Elbrus glaciers: Garabashi (5, 4.09km long), Terskol (7.56, 7.02 km long), Irik (10.19, 9.31 km long), Irikchat (1.79, 2.67 km long)

All the glaciers are in recession; during the last 100 years most have retreated between 80 and 500m. Glacier snouts reach down well below the snowline and give rise to numerous outfalls and rivers. Lakes are mostly of glacial origin, small in area but often deep. Northern Elbrus glaciers: Ullu-Malgan-Chyran, Ullu-Kol, Kara-Chaul.

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