Tag Archives: russia

Rushing down the Akkem Rush.

At Tyungur, we were up early > breakfast > tents down > to the riverbank > into the Katun on rafts > off we pop > 25km of calm rafting until we reach today’s main attraction: several sets of rapids called the Akkemsky Proriv (in Russian), which translates as the Akkem Rush (aka the Akkem Fissure, Akkem Breach, Akkem Rupture, etc., but Rush is arguably closest to the original meaning in Russian, i.e., referring to the water itself, not the location it’s set in. Just to complicate things further, it’s also known as the Akkem Pipe – or Akkem Tube!!).

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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!…

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Flickr photostream

  • Aquarium@Barkas 2021
  • Aquarium@Barkas 2021
  • Aquarium@Barkas 2021
  • Aquarium@Barkas 2021

Instagram photostream

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 ).

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Moscow-to-Mars simulation – to see if you’d last the duration!

The other day I visited a most unusual, unique place – and just down the road too. It’s a space-travel training complex where they do simulations of long missions into space. You may have heard of a small group of volunteers who cut themselves off from the world for a long as it takes to fly to Mars and back? Well, this is the place where that happens…

…In this unassuming building:

…Namely – inside cylindrical chambers like the one in the following pic, whose size is no larger than that of a modern-day space ship. Inside everything’s set up to imitate as closely as possible a space flight: limited space, regeneration of water and oxygen, time delays in communications ‘with Earth’, etc. The only thing that’s not reproduced is weightlessness; oh – and windows through which you can see stars ).

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From Udomlya with Love – and Fresh Electricity.

There’s a town in Russia that’s situated almost precisely at the mid-point between Moscow and St. Petersburg. It goes by the name of Udomlya. You’ll no doubt not have heard of it. Not many Russians have heard of it; I hadn’t heard of it either until last week when we went there! For I don’t have an encyclopedic memory, and I tend to study geography through personal field visits!

So what were we doing in this little-known town? Well, just to the north of Udomlya there’s a lake of the same name, and on one of its banks is a place to which we paid a visit: the Kalinin Nuclear Power Plant.

// You think Udomlya sounds a little funny/stage in English? It sounds no less funny/strange in Russian! I had a quick look on the net for the etymology, and it claims it comes from the Finno-Ugric, but to me it sounds Slavic. Can any of you, dear readers, confirm the origins?

Now, much as I’d love to show you pics of this fascinating industrial installation, I’m not going to show you one! I didn’t take any! (Blimey: that must be a first.) For this is critical infrastructural object – no photography allowed, not by visitors at least. Some of the nice folks who showed us round – they were permitted to take photos, but even then – only in special designated areas. Accordingly, you’ll just have to settle for their handful of pics (and this here short text of mine)…

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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:

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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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