Galloping through the North Caucasus. Day 6: How we were looking for the highest waterfall in Europe.
After finishing our tour of the ancient Ossetian necropolis in Dargavs, we went to the Midagrabindon river valley. Some sources on the internet claim that there is the highest waterfall in Europe. Of course, it would have been wrong not to see such a miracle. Despite the beginning of rain and the approaching dusk, we drove to the Great Zeigalan waterfall. We drove through the small village of Jimara and ended up at a roadblock. Ahem… This is the border zone with Georgia, so, if well, we should think about getting passes. But we should try, as they say, and hope to pass it foolishly.
We pull over at the closed gates and suddenly realise two things. First, there is no one at the checkpoint. At all. Second, to the left of the gate and the booth there is a clearly visible detour. It is quite dirty, large ruts with water, potholes and all this, but we still enter the border zone. So to speak, with an unofficial visit. In general, to be honest, we wanted to camp overnight in these places, but I do not like to put and collect wet and dirty tents. And the ladies present in our team also preferred a hotel that night. For this we had to go back to Vladikavkaz, and moreover along the Karmadon Gorge. But about it I’ll tell a little bit lower.
02. In the meantime we park near the sign “Carpooling” and dismount. Staying in the border zone without passes is already pretty exciting, so we decide that this would be somehow more legal. Especially, to the waterfall, judging by the navigator, it seems not so far.
03. This is the sign, as well as the female part of the team. Somewhere in the distance Olga, and in a huge orange raincoat from the husband’s shoulder, dressed directly on her ski jacket, my wife Lena.
04. Let’s go, in short. It’s pouring from above, and it’s pretty wet underfoot, too. Yo! That’s the river flowing!
05. The road is still quite passable for Niva and Duster, and periodically we regret that we left our cars so far away. My wife and I, breathing heavily, closing our column. We are entering the so called Midagrabinskaja Horseshoe. This is such a semicircular giant well of almost vertical rocks, on top of which are the glaciers Zeygalan, Donzhety and Jimara-hoh.
06. It is from these glaciers that the Midagrabi waterfalls originate. Yes, Bolshoy Zeygalan is not the only one here. In the network write that in Midagrabinskoy valley about fifty waterfalls, and that among them 15 large, 7 drying (depending on the season) and 8 permanent. We notice one waterfall to the right of the course. It is quite high, but obviously it doesn’t reach the declared 650-700 meters of Great Zeigelan Waterfall. We go further and take some pictures.
07. Somewhere here the road ends, further there are only directions along the rutted riverbed. Choose any one, but try not to twist your leg.
08. And now a little lyrical and technical digression. Analyzing my photos at home, I came to the conclusion that we did not see the Great Zeigalan Waterfall. Although at the moment of being in Midagrbyn Horseshoe, I, and all of us, were sure that it was the one we were photographing. After all, it’s big, so it should be seen. Even out of season. Recall that this is the beginning of May. But in fact it turns out “worked” only Small Zeygielan waterfall (it is on all pictures below) and the one that you saw on image 06. It is difficult to identify it, but it is definitely not Zeygalan. All the other waterfalls, except for a couple more “little ones”, were in frozen condition.
09. The thing about Midagrabi Falls is that they are pulsating in nature. In July, when the glaciers begin to melt, there will be a completely different picture.
10. But we don’t know any of this yet, and grumbling, we climb the rocks closer to the waterfall, thinking that this is the “tallest” one. After all, in the mountains it is very difficult to assess the real height with our eyes. By the way, if you look carefully at the photo below, we can assume that the barely visible ice tongue between the tops and the dry riverbed, on which we walk, is the Great Zeigalan Waterfall, but in a state of hibernation, so to speak. Small Zeygalan, as it should be a restless little brother, has already woken up and started its games.
11 Meanwhile, Lena is the first to reach the waterfall. More precisely, the observation deck next to it. Although, ahem… There was also Olga with us, who was the first to go… Where is she? Ok, let’s wait for Pasha and deal with it.
12. And Pasha went the other way and therefore came to the waterfall is not at the top, and the bottom. Do you see him?
13. Well, let’s wait for him to climb up to us. That’s where we came from, where the clouds are puffing up. And Lena, I think, is a little sad at the prospect of going back there. It hasn’t stopped raining for a minute and the same wet waterfall with splashing isn’t very helpful anymore.
14. Taking pictures of it in the meantime. Not a damn thing comes out. What the hell is the highest waterfall in Europe?
15. Suddenly Pasha appears in the frame and the scale of the photo becomes a little clearer. Although, of course, I can not say that this trickle made me a lasting impression, but I calmed myself with the fact that we got out of season, and the waterfall consists of two sections with a step between them. And we just can not see the second part of the waterfall from here. Alas, as I wrote above, we were deluded and tried to enjoy what we have.
16. Look at Pasha phoboz . You can see that the man is tired and wet, but absolutely happy!
17. Oh, shit! And where is Olya?! Maybe she decided to take this opportunity to ask for political asylum in Georgia. She’s only a few kilometers away. But no, we see a figure in the distance, shouting and waving our hands that it’s time to go down to the cars. I don’t know exactly, but now I think Olga guessed that we flew over with Big Zaigelan and tried to find him.
18. It is toward evening. It’s getting dusky, very damp, and if you don’t move, you start to get chilly right away.
19. Waiting for Olya. Clouds rapidly cover the Midagrbinsky Horseshoe, we have to leave as soon as possible. I’m still a little worried about the checkpoint on the way back. I wouldn’t like to meet somebody there and I don’t want to get stuck in a rut near its detour at night either.
20. I’m also desperate for hot tea or coffee, but boiling water in the rain doesn’t appeal to me. We throw off our wet raincoats and set a course for Vladikavkaz. We will have dinner in civilization.
Well, then the epic drive through the infamous unlit Karmadon Gorge. Not so long ago the traffic was restored there, but we did not know what exactly was waiting for us there. And we crawled anxiously along the gorge being afraid to fall somewhere and being amazed by the height of the stone “walls” emanating from the headlights. The rain intensified. Good thing I was driving second and after a while my only landmark was the clearance lights of the Niva. But, oh, my goodness! We caught up with a Gazelle with local plates, which was going in the same direction. So, the road was passable and soon we would rest and dry off in Vladikavkaz. We followed her in a “steam train” and the Gazelle became our lucky guiding star.
Meanwhile an unpleasant noise began to bother me from somewhere underneath the Duster. It’s getting stronger and stronger. And it’s hitting me right in the nervous system. Tomorrow we have to drive to Ingushetia, what kind of breakage could there be? We even stop and try with Pasha to find the cause of the knocking, shining flashlights, but we find nothing definite. So, in the morning we have to find a car service. With gloomy thoughts, by 11 p.m. we arrive in town and check into a hotel near the train station.