The beautiful Caucasus mountains are positioned at the border between Europe and Asia, with no clear consensus on which continent they belong to. Parts of the mountain range belong to Russia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Iran, and Turkey. Their highest point is Mount Elbrus, at 5,642m, or 18,510 feet high, in southern Russia.
The Caucasus are going to be the site of the winter 2014 Olympic games, in Russia, near the city of Sochi. Skiing, snowboarding and other winter sports will be performed by some of the greatest athletes in the world on the snow-covered mountain ranges of the area. But you don’t have to be an Olympian to enjoy the year-round wonder of the Caucasus.
The mountain range has various temperatures, depending on both the vertical elevation and the latitude of the part of the range in question. At the base of the range, (sea level) in northern Georgia, the average annual temperature is around 15 degrees Celsius. This falls to around -6.1 degrees at the peak of Mount Kazbek, also in Georgia.
The Caucasus are known for large snowfalls, but this is true predominantly of the Greater Caucasus, whose southern and western slopes may get as much as 5-7 meters (16-23 feet) of snow annually. The lesser Cacasus may get as little as 10-30 centimeters (4-12 inches) per year, so choosing your skiing or boarding site carefully is a necessity.
Mount Elbrus draws visitors to its year-round snow cover, which means never ending skiing and boarding for those who can tolerate the altitude and the low oxygen concentration. However, with the climate changes, there is sometimes rain in the place of snow on this great peak, which can turn the slopes into icy and dangerous territory. Avalanches are common here, and throughout the snowy regions of the mountains during the avalanche season of November to April.
Most of the advertising for English-speaking tourists is coming from Georgia, these days. Environmentally friendly tours of the great sights and beautiful outdoors in the region are being touted to draw tourists from all over the world. Russia also has its fair share of tourist-friendly accommodations, travel packages, and advertising dollars being spent to draw English-speaking tourists to see the Russian part of the mountain range.
Because the mountain range runs from sea level up to the top of Mountain Elbrus, and because several of the countries it runs through welcome Western tourism, the Caucasus are a great place to go on vacation. There are hiking and camping places near the base of the range, trekking, backpacking, skiing and snowboarding slopes up higher, and mountain climbing opportunities for the true adventurer. And with a healthy tourist trade already in place, you’ll be welcomed as visitors, and introduced to the unique native culture.
If you love great views or are an amateur or professional photographer, remember to break out the cameras and the binoculars before you head on up to the Caucasus mountains. There are spectacular views of cities from above, undiminished nature, and breathtakingly high peaks to enjoy. Just make sure that you are prepared if you head up high, because the low oxygen levels can take some getting used to.
Learn more, click here: http://novaonline.nvcc.edu/eli/evans/HIS241/Notes/Geography/Caucasus.html