A Travel Adventure in the Mountains of Dagestan
By Paul Knott

The Republic of Dagestan lies between the Caucasus mountains and the Caspian Sea. Despite being part of Russia for many years, it has retained a distinct identity and an impressive diversity of language and ethnicity. Bordering Chechnya, Georgia and Azerbaijan, it sits on the turbulent fringe of Europe yet has maintained its unity and mostly avoided modern conflict.

In 1992, I seized the opportunity presented by the recent demise of the Soviet Union to visit the remote western edge of the country and attempt to climb its mysterious high mountains. I could find no record of climbing visits by non-Russians since Gottfried Merzbacher’s exploration in 1892 and that of Moriz von Déchy five years later. A group of us from Britain and Ukraine set off on our adventure with little prior knowledge and no local connections. We were delighted to find a traditional mountain lifestyle, apparently little changed by the reforms of the Soviet era.

This brief illustrated narrative describes some of our encounters and impressions.

Full text and some photos: http://www.friends-partners.org/oldfriends/dagestan/index.html

A full account of our climbing activity can be found in The Alpine Journal 1993.
Merzbacher’s visit is described in his 1901 book, Aus den Hochregion des Kaukasus.

Village Tindi in Dagestan

Author: Gottfried Merzbacher

More photos to Dagestan

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