Financial Times: "Deep snow and dumplings: heli-skiing in Georgia"

  • Ushba’s twin peaks dominate the view north from Mestia. Photo: Andrey Borodulin/AFP via Getty Images

Review by Mariam Papidze

Economic Editor, 1 Feb 2023, Tbilisi,Georgia

The highland Georgian town of Mestia in the country’s north-west has been highlighted in an article by Simon Usborne of the Financial Times as a "mediaeval mountain town now emerging as a new frontier in skiing".

Usborne produced the piece for the British publication to share his impressions following a visit to the location last year, at the invitation of the Georgian National Tourism Administration.

Mestia, which lies in a steep-sided valley about an hour to the north, is best known for its mediaeval watchtowers. More than a dozen of the structures still rise above cobbled streets like fortified skyscrapers. The town of no more than 2,000 people sits at the heart of the Svaneti region, home to the Svans. They proudly guard an ancient culture and language - and some of Europe’s greatest mountains", he notes.

The article is continued with a story of two brothers - Misha and Aleksei Margiani - who volunteered as mountain rescuers in the locality and now plan their own heli-ski business in Mestia. Usborne experienced a helicopter flight with the brothers above Svaneti’s "mountain giants".

The forbidding twin peaks of Ushba (4,710m) dominate the view north from the town, while the great pyramid of Tetnuldi (4,854m) sits to the east [...] Everywhere I looked, great peaks and snaking glaciers repeated into the distance", the travel reporter says.

Usborne also shares his impressions of Georgian dishes, namely the "wonderful khinkali dumplings and khachapuri, a cheese-filled bread”, and highlights the cultural heritage in Mestia and traditions of the Georgian supra feast in the piece.

Read more here.