Pik Terskol: a truly outstanding 4x4 adventure
Pik Terskol is a high mountain peak at an elevation of 3.092m (10,144ft) above the sea level, located in Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachay–Cherkessia of Russia, near the border with Georgia. It’s one of the highest roads of Europe.
The dirt road to the summit, located within the western Caucasus mountain range, is totally unpaved and impassable from September to July. At the summit there’s an observatory called Mezhdunarodnaya observatoriya (or Pik Terskol Observatory). The low atmospheric water vapor content and the high atmospheric transparency in the UV- and IR-range allow to infer that the Terskol Peak is one of the best observational sites in Europe. This track can get very muddy and slippery after rain making it challenging to get through. During and after a storm the road may be impassable, even with a four-wheel-drive vehicle.
Avoid driving in this area if unpaved mountain roads aren't your strong point. 4x4 required. Stay away if you're scared of heights. Wet conditions may make for tough driving along the muddy road. The road to the summit is very steep. Starting from Terskol (at 2.166m above the sea level), the ascent is 7.8 km long. Over this distance the elevation gain is 926 meters, and the average gradient is 11,81%, with some sections up to 18%. Do not travel this road in severe weather conditions. Avalanches, heavy snowfalls and landslides can occur anytime, being extremely dangerous due to frequent patches of ice.
Pic: Alexandr Demidov