- Project Runeberg -  Through the Caucasus to the Volga /

(1931) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Gerald C. Wheeler - Tema: Russia
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The first of ordinary mortals to climb Kasbek
was the well-known English mountaineer Freshfield ;
together with Moore, Tucker, and the Chamonix
guide Fran^ois Devouassoud he reached the top
in 1868. It is the highest mountain in this part
of the Caucasus; but far away to the west
north-west is another mighty volcanic mass, which
likewise has broken out on the northern slope
of the range, and which has still higher volcanoes
—the highest being Elbruz, 5,629 metres above
the sea.
The fact of both volcanic masses lying separated
from the main range gives these volcanoes a still
more overwhelming effect, and måkes them so
clearly visible far off and from may sides.
In the village of Kasbek and in the larger one
of Gergeti, opposite it on the other side of the
stream, Georgian mountaineers live; while in the
a-ul of Gveleti, 7 kilometres farther north, there
are mostly Chechens, who have been noted ibex
hunters. The Chechens’ land is on the east side of
the Terek valley north of the Khevsurs ; otherwise
to the north the valley right down to the flat land
is inhabited by Ossetes.
Near Kasbek an old graveyard has been found,
which is held to belong to the Bronze Age. Already
at that time, therefore, there were men living here
in the upper Terek valley, and there must have
been traffic through the narrow pass. As in many
places about the Caucasus, various objects from
Bronze Age culture have been found, among
others phallic figures, pointing to a phallic cult.

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