A sign of a bright Altai future.

Briefly looking back over recent blogposts, I see you’ve had plenty on Katun already, including lots and lots of photos thereof. All the same – it’s still… too little! Accordingly, here’s some more!…

We’d already rafted some 200km since we started out on the river (where the Upper Kuragan joins it). Not a great deal given that its full length is 688km – from the foot of Mount Belukha to the mighty Siberian River Ob near the city of Biysk. And most of those first 200 kilometers were calm, steady, conducive to quiet meditation, and with non-stop extraordinarily beautiful Altai scenery….

Quick digression into oddness: one thing (out of many!) I find extraordinary about the Katun is how bendy, winding, twisting it is. But get this: I couldn’t find a picture/map/atlas on the net that shows clearly the full length of Katun, marked out so it’s clear to see it against the backdrop of Siberia and northern Kazakhstan! EH? For example, both Google Maps and Yandex Maps of course point out ‘Katun River’, but only one point of it – not it’s whole length highlighted! Accordingly, you can’t get a good idea of just how bendy, twisty, winding it is. This is doing curious folks a real disfavor! Because how the Katun winds far and wide though valleys amid the Altai Mountains – at one point almost doubling back on itself but in a large ~circle – is simply extraordinary! So, internet – get a grip! Or, if any of you, dear readers, might be able to find – or create – a map with it marked on, I’d be much obliged!

…Back to Katun – the one we rafted on, not the elusive one I can’t find the full length of on a map!…

Read on…

This river was made for rafting, and that’s just what we did.

After your aperitif, are you ready for your main dish of slow-cooked Katun, with a side dish of oh-my-gorgeous Altai scenery? Ok, then we’ll begin…

As I’ve written in this Altai-2020 series already, getting to the top of the Katun sure ain’t easy, and near the top there aren’t that many river obstacles getting in your way (too easy!); however, the early stretches are perhaps the most magnificently meditative! The odd paddle, the occasional spot of steering, a few splashes here and there, but apart from that – magical Altai vistas and Ommmmmmmmm ).

Read on…

Flickr photostream

  • Sochi / Sep 2020
  • Sochi / Sep 2020
  • Sochi / Sep 2020
  • Sochi / Sep 2020

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Ooh-la Yarlu.

Multicolored mountains aren’t the rarest natural phenomenon in the world; however, not every mountain range can boast such a natural oddity…

The most multicolored mountainous paysages on the planet are without a doubt those in Zhangye, China. There are the yellow-red volcanic landscapes of Kambalny and Koshelov on the Kamchatka Peninsula, which are also simply marvelous sights to behold. Then there’s the multicolored Ausangate ‘rainbow’ mountain in Peru, and the Quebrada de Humahuaca in Argentina. And last but not least there’s the Yarlu valley in the Altai Mountains: also brightly colored, only in uniquely pastel hues, and also well worthy of inclusion into the list of the coolest multicolored mountains of the world:

How the soil/rocks/rubble here came to be of such interestingly unusually vivid colors – I still do not know. What I do know is they’re an uncommonly fascinating sight to see.

The marbled mountains came into view en route to the valley – around five kilometers from it:

Read on…

The Amazing Technicolor Altai Mountain Passes.

Another day – another beach, sunlounger, pool, cocktail, cigar… Wait. No! That’s not how we do summer vacations! It was indeed another day – but it was in the Altai Mountains, which one could call the Russian ‘middle of nowhere’ (or at least one of them:). No sandy beaches or cocktails here. Still, the sun was out – and we were two thousand meters nearer to it than down on any beach. No sunloungers or cigars for us today either: we had a full day’s mountain trekking ahead of us…

Once we’d set out, the views of mountains seemingly colored in in pastel shades came into view almost immediately. Clearly, this was going to be another of those walk (better – sit), behold and meditate days )…

Read on…

Altai-2020: meditative-mountain-passive.

Another day, another Altai!…

We were met upon waking on the ninth day of our expedition by a warm sun, as if hinting that the rainy days of our trip were behind us (which turned out to be false). Ahead of us this day – a steady stroll to the musical accompaniment of trickling streams and singing birds. There was a touch of rain ‘insignificant precipitation’ (– D.Y., our main guide, from the tour agency Altai-Geed), but only for a short while later in the day. But early morning, the main thing was that the wind was plentiful enough to blow away the mist, setting up the day to be perfect for walking…

The views – oh my gorges!

No glaciers just yet, but clearly glacial effects all over the barren, rubbly ice-scooped landscapes…

Read on…

Crazy bridge over very troubled water.

The bridge theme has cropped up a few times already in this here Altai-2020 series, but now – finally – the time has come to meet the maddest bridge of them all. But would it still be even there, we thought, waking one morning. Maybe it had been washed away by the fast flow of the Iedygem river?…

Yep – as you can see: still there. Good job; otherwise we’d have had to circle back a real long way and cross a different bridge. Below, the river as high and agitated as ever…

Read on…

Fun and games, laughing and joshing – half-way up an Altai mountain!

Finally!…

Finally, we pulled off getting into a nice straight line for a proper, full-posse, Altai summer trekking photo! Phew! (No, I don’t know why it took so long for it to happen:).

And here’s an action shot – us doing the Altai trekking thing, on a beautiful sunny day, trekking sticks in hand, heading to our next river, mountain or mountain pass! ->

Ahhh. So nice to walk in these here wilds under such clear blue skies amid such lush landscapes all around!

Read on…

Five days hiking; the Altai rocky scenery – striking.

Herewith, a continuation of my Altai-2020 tales!…

After spending the night in the tiny hamlet of Arkyt, we were up early next morning, loaded most of our stuff onto uncomplaining horses, put bare essentials (mostly photo-video kit, + warm and waterproof clothing) into backpacks for our own backs, and off we set – for five (!) days of trekking in the Altai wilderness up to Akkem Lake. As the crow flies, it’s a mere 35 kilometers; however, given the specifics of the lie of the land here, the actual distance you cover is around 85km! But it feels even longer than that – say, 100km: there are that many bends and twists and ups and downs, plus much of the way it’s quite uneven and stony. Then there are the flooded sections of the path due to the summer’s rain-overdose; we had to get round these up on steep slopes next to the path covered in bushes. The most unusual bit was where deep, soft moss covered steep sections of the path: it was almost like walking upon deep snow! This was fine when descending, but ascending – oh my grueling-stamina-test!

But for the full length of those 85km – the views all around were absolutely stunning!

You might just be able to make out the cabins down in Arkyt in the middle of this pic ->

Read on…