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Overview

This trek will take us deep into the Altai Mountains of Southern Russia to experience the spectacular and varied terrain of the area. We will also take in a taste of the unique and mixed culture of the area. The mountains occupy the area where Russia in the north, collides with Kazakhstan, Mongolia and China. Part of the region is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In it's description of the importance of the area UNESCO noted that "the region represents the most complete sequence of altitudinal vegetation zones in central Siberia, from steppe, forest-steppe, mixed forest, subalpine vegetation to alpine vegetation"

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    The spurs of the Katunsky Ridge are one of the most scenic places in Russia. The juxtaposition of the wild grandeur of the mountains with peaceful and picturesque landscapes is dramatic. The glacier-covered Belukha Mountain (4503 m.) is towering there. This is the highest peak in Siberia and in the rest of Russia outside the Caucasus. There are many mountain lakes with turquoise waters on the Katunsky ridge. In July and August, the alpine meadows are in luxuriant bloom. There you can meet Siberian wapiti (red deer), musk deer, brown bear, sable, Siberian weasel, squirrel, chipmunk, Siberian ibex (mountain goat). The elusive snow leopard and the Altai snowcock also make a home of these lands.

    The tour takes us to the west and east parts of the Katunsky ridge: to the canyon of Kucherla river and to Kucherlinskii lake. Mountain passes provide extensive panoramas of the Katunsky Ridge and ice-covered Belukha Mountain. The Kucherla river is one of the most lovely mountain rivers of the Katunsky ridge and has milky blue water. One of the sides of the Kucherla gorge is forest-steppe with larch and stone ridges, while cedars and firs cover the opposite side. Higher along the route, there are cedar pine forests and alpine meadows. A circus of snow-capped peaks (3000 meters) surrounds the Kucherlinskii lake and is reflected in its quiet water. Another famous lake we will visit is the Akkem lake. It is smaller, but its waters reflect the peak and glacier of Mount Belukha. These places are a real Mekka for mountaineers and artists.

    In addition to visiting a unique corner of the world, you will also learn about the ancient culture of the Old-Believers (they are ethnic Russians who split off from the Russian Orthodox Church in 1966 and sought to live a self-sustaining life, in the most remote place they could find). You will visit the ethnographic museum in the Verhnii Ujmon village and also places connected with the expeditions of N.K. Roerikh, a famous Russian artist, traveler, archaeologist and writer.

    Staff

    Adventure Alternative runs a subsidiary organisation called Russian Adventures based in Moscow. We look after all the bureaucratic details to ensure a problem-free trip.

    Sasha Lebedev is our trip organiser and translater on our Altai trips. He is a reputable author with published books covering Mount Elbrus, the Altai Republic and Mongolia. His English is excellent and he is an experienced and safe guide for the Altai.

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    Dates and Itinerary

    2014 dates to be announced soon

    Detailed Itinerary
    Day Elevation Travel Time Info
    1 850m Arrive in Barnaul. A representative meets you at the airport. Travel by bus to reach base camp "Vysotnik" (850 m), which is situated in a picturesque place on the bank of the Katun River near the village of Tiungur. Please note that this is a journey of 750 km taking 12-13 hours. Upon arrival we will have a team welcome dinner. Accommodation is in tents and a sauna and communal toilets are in a separate nearby building. Here there is also a cafe and a small hiking equipment rental centre.
    2 1100m We start by passing through Kucherla, the last populated area on the way to the mountains. After we leave civilisation behind, we will follow a path through the forest. Today we have to overcome the Kuzuyak pass (1513 m). The pass isn't high but the walking is pretty hard - it is a test of our stamina. We make camp in a nice meadow on the banks of the Oroktoy brook (1100 m). 6-8 hours hiking, 19 km, 600 m altitude change.
    3 2000m Ascending along the Orokto brook to the Tukhman River (2000 m), we will see how the panorama changes from taiga (deep Siberian forest) to high alpine meadows. Overnight is at a picturesque place with great panorama of Mt. Belukha - the highest mountain of Siberia - and surrounding peaks. 7-8 hours hiking, 14 km, 900 m altitude change.
    4 The trail we are following has the same height level and leads us to the picturesque Kulduairy Lake (2000 m). If we are lucky we may catch a glimpse of a native Moral (a kind of deer) or a marmot. 7-8 hours, 20 km. Altitude change 100 m.
    5 1800m We have a reletively short trek today: a moderate ascent and then we find ourselves at a plateau with some weirdly shaped rocks and stones. After a short but steep descent we reach our campsite on the banks of the Tekeliu River (1800 m). In the afternoon we have an optional hike upstream along the river to see two waterfalls, 4 km. 3-4 hours hiking, 10 km, altitude change 500 m.
    6 1950m Crossing the Tekeliu River and climbing the Sarybel pass. After long ridge traverse and steep descent we are coming to the Yarlu valley. Then we should cross the Ak-kem River and in a half of an hour we finally reach our permanent high camp (1950 m) where we have dinner and stay for one day. There is a canteen, a sauna and a traditional Altai building called an ail. This camp boasts hypnotic views of the huge snowy massif of Mount Belukha. 7-8 hours, 15 km, altitude change 600 m.
    7 An excursion day to the Ak-Ojouk valley, which is famous for its seven lakes all of different hues (5-7 hours hiking, altitude change 400 m), or to the Yarlu valley - the high energy place with "stones town" which was created by people visiting Yarlu for a meditation.
    8 3060 Start the second part of our trekking. We have to work by climbing up the Karatiurek pass (3060 m). The descend from the pass is steep and goes on talus. We camp in the cedar forest. 6-8 hours hiking, 15 km, altitude change 1000 m.
    9 1760m After a short ascent to a plateau we are now descending, through the taiga, to the incomparable Kucherla Lake (1760 m). The water of the Ak-kem and Kucherla Lakes calls "dead" and "alive" accordingly. There is a lot of fish in Kucherla. The camp is at the shore of the lake. 4-6 hours, 13 km, altitude change 300 m.
    10-11 Gradual descent down the Kucherla River with a night camping en-route. We also make a stop to look at the ancient petroglyphs on a rock. Return to the b. c. "Vysotnik". 4-6 hours in each day. 45 km
    12 Road transfer back up to the city of Barnaul
    13 Flight out of Barnaul. This can make a direct connection to your International Flight out of Moscow or you may choose to extend your trip with a few days stop over in Moscow. If you have not experienced Moscow then this would be a fantastic opportunity to see the city without additional transport costs. We are able to help you to coordinate and organise accomodation and city tours through our Moscow office. Please note however that you will need to organise this prior to obtaining your visa as the exact flight departure day needs to be specified. Please feel feel free to contact us to discuss options and example itineraries.

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    Cost

    Altai Adventure, Siberia cost: £1,450.00

    Includes
    • All accommodation
    • All food
    • Trekking guide
    • Group camping equipment
    • All permits and registrations
    • Visa support
    Excludes
    • International Air Fare
    • Personal travel insurance
    • Extra accomodation prior to arrival in Barnaul and after drop off in barnaul

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    Fitness

    You do not need to be super-fit for this trip, however the climbs are moderately demanding with some long days of sustained walking with a backpack. The effects of altitude may also further tax your body. You will enjoy the trip all the more if you are in good physical shape having exercised regularly and eaten nutritiously over at least the 6 months leading up to the trip. You do need to be in good health as we will spend some time in locations that are many hours from professional medical care. Any pre-existing medical or dental conditions should be fully appraised by a doctor and their nature fully disclosed to your insurer and to ourselves.

    Type of Terrain

    The trek generally follows a well trodden path all the way though this can be rocky and uneven in parts. It is not precipitous and there is no rock climbing or ‘mountaineering’ which requires equipment. It is a walk all the way, although some of the hills can be steep and never-ending

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    Gear

    Kit List
    • 1 set of thermal base layer
    • 1 pr fleece pants (light,midweight eg Polartec 100 or 200 ) or warm trousers
    • Midlayer - can be fleece or warm shirts, jumper etc.
    • Fleece jacket (heavyweight eg Polartec 300, full zip jacket better) or thick jacket.
    • Down jacket with hood. This is optional only in July and August, although if you do not bring this you
    • must be sure of extra warm fleece layers to compensate, and a windproof outer.
    • Shell trousers and jacket with hood
    • Hiking trousers and shirts for valley treks, T-shirts, underwear etc
    • Sunhat and wool or fleece hat (warm with ear flaps)
    • Balaclava or something to cover the face like neck warmer
    • Headlamp (Petzl with spare bulbs and batteries)
    • Glacier or sunglasses (100% UV)
    • Goggles
    • Leather walking boots, worn in
    • Plastic climbing boots (avoid tight fit with heavy socks) for use on snow
    • Gaiters (optional)
    • 2 pr heavy socks, 2 pr liner socks
    • Crampons (step-ins or strap-ons, 10 or 12 point, check fit on boots beforehand, point protectors are
    • also useful for storage and an adjusting tool).
    • 1 pr fleecy gloves to fit inside mitts
    • Mitts with gore-Tex or waterproof shells or one pair very warm gloves
    • Rucksack (minimum 65 litres) or strong duffle bag
    • Day pack (around 35- 40 litres)
    • Sleeping bag, 3 season
    • Water bottles - 2 x 1 litres capacity + covers
    • Sunscreen and lipscreen (SPF 30 at least)
    • Personal first aid kit
    • Ski or trekking poles (optional)
    • Large plastic bags (to keep things dry, eg sleeping bag)
    • Travel Clothes
    Additional Kit Info

    Personal Medical Kit
    Paracetamol
    Ibuprofen
    Antiseptic Wipes
    Adhesive Plasters
    Blister Plasters
    Zinc Tape
    Insect Repellent
    Antihistamine tablets
    Sunblock Cream
    Water Purification Tablets
    Rehydration Sachets
    Personal Medication as required:
      eg. Anti-Malarials, Asthma Inhalers, Insulin, Epi-Pen etc

    Possible Additional Personal First Aid Items
    Lip Salve
    Throat Lozenges
    Latex gloves
    Crepe Bandage
    Hydrocortisone Cream
    Prochlorperazine tablets (for sickness/nausea)
    Ciprofloxacin tablets (general antibiotic; prescription required)
    Acetazolamide tablets (altitude prophylactic; prescription required)

    Note: you must check with your GP for your personal suitability to all medicines and their possible side effects and interactions. Please inform us of the details of all regular medication that you intend to use though the course of your trip and any relevant allergies and medical history related to them. You also need to check the requirements and regulations of the airline and all countries visited in relation to medications. For example; laws governing transport of some pain control medication and the need keep insulin at a suitable temperature, ie not in the cargo hold.

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    Why Us

    • We have a subsidiary company in Russia with full time Russian emloyees to ensure a smooth trip with expert backup.
    • Our Russian Guide Alexander 'Sasha' Lebedev is hugely experienced as a mountain and wilderness guide all over Russia.
    • Sasha is also the author of many guidebooks including one on the Russian Altai Mountains and another on the Mongolian Altai Mountains.
    • We are fully bonded by AITO in guarantee your financial security.
    • Adventure Alternative underwrites the charity Moving Mountains which carries out international development work in Kenya, Nepal, Borneo and the Ukraine.

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