Tag Archives: altai-2020

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:

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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 )…

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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…

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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!

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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 ->

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Altai-2020: along the Argut, via the Karagem.

On today’s agenda on our ‘In for a Ruble, in for a Penny – Altai-2020‘ expedition: further edging ever closer to the main course – white-water rafting. The final stretch of the drive, and then finally switching from 4×4 to 2×2 (trekking-booted feet). Then we got onto two ‘loaves of bread‘ to raft down the Argut.

These pics, in case you’re wondering, are of the ‘road’, not a path! Accordingly, since it’s so hairy and rubbly, at times we were let out to proceed on foot for a bit: the vehicles would have an easier – safer – time navigating it then…

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A beautiful driving-day – on Altai’s R256 Highway.

The R256 Highway, aka – the Chuya Highway, aka – the Chuysky Trakt, really, truly, totally, is… an amazingly modern highway! So much so that it’s as if this road… is giving… the bird (pardon my Belgian) to any and all entrenched stereotypes held by folks living in Moscow and other ‘progressive’ Russian cities about the ‘provincial backwaters’ of Russia being backward, dirty, unkempt, and on the verge of collapse. Along the full length of the highway (apart from the stretches being repaired/resurfaced – but we’ll allow that:), there is: smooth asphalt; fresh, clean and clear signposting and road markings; sturdy modern crash barriers; and assorted other attributes of ‘how a road should ideally be constructed’. Oh my great job!

It goes without saying it was pure pleasure driving along the Trakt. There were a few ‘events’ along the way, but no major hiccups or incidents. And not even a driving ticket – not a single one (and we really were pushing our luck at times (well, it did feel like an Autobahn:)!

Btw – the above and also quite a few of the following pics were taken by our photo-video-drone maestro Andrey Nartish, of Dyshes Production.

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The Martian landscapes of the Altai Mountains.

The main course of our Altai-2020 expedition was of course the rafting down the river Katun. However, the various hors d’oeuvres before it were rather special too. The rafting main dish came after a good long steady mosey from the northeast to near where the river starts out up in the mountains. The route: along the R256 highway up to the village Kosh Agach, and from there it wasn’t much further as we were already high up in the mountains.

Approaching the riverhead, we took one look at the super-high level of the water of the river Chuya and realized a spot of rafting upon its rapids was out of the question. Boo! We’d be missing the Behemoth Rapid, the Horizon Rapid, and the Turbinny Rapid (woah: three remote sets of rapids – each with their own English Wikipedia page:). There’d simply been too much rainfall this year – much more than usual.

But what we did instead made up for these omissions: we drove over to the multicolored Kizil-Chin mountains – aka ‘Martian mountains’ due to their unusual yellow-orange coloring.

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