KASBEK (Georgian, Mkin-vari; Ossetian, Urs-khokh], one of the chief summits of the Caucasus, situated in 42 42' N. and 44 30' E., 7 m. as the crow flies from a station of the same name on the high road to Tiflis. Its altitude is 16,545 ft. It rises on the range which runs north of the main range (main water-parting), and which is pierced by the gorges of the Ardon and the Terek. It represents an extinct volcano, built up of trachyte and sheathed with lava, and has the shape of a double cone, whose base lies at an altitude of 5800 ft. Owing to the steepness of its slopes, its eight glaciers cover an aggregate surface of not more than 8 sq. m., though one of them, Maliev, is 36 m. long. The best-known glacier is the Dyevdorak, or Devdorak, which creeps down the north-eastern slope into a gorge of the same name, reaching a level of 7530 ft. At its eastern foot runs the Georgian military road through the pass of Darial (7805 ft.). The summit was first climbed in 1868 by D. W. Freshfield, A. W. Moore, and C. Tucker, with a Swiss guide. Several successful ascents have been made since, the most valuable in scientific results being that of Pastukhov (1889) and that of G. Merzbacher and L. Purtscheller in 1890. Kasbek has a great literature, and has left a deep mark in Russian poetry.
See D. W. Freshfield in Proc. Geog. Soc. (November 1888) and The Exploration of the Caucasus (2nd ed., 2 vols., 1902) ; Hatisian's "Kazbek Glaciers" in Izvestia Russ. Geog. Soc. (xxiv., 1888); Pastukhov in Izvestia of the Caucasus Branch of Russ. Geog. Soc. (x. I, 1891, with large-scale map).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)