Almaty to Issyk Kul trekking
Ala-Archa gorge
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        The Kirgizskiy and Karamoynok ridges

        The Kirgizskiy ridge rises above the capital of Kirgizia . It is a large ridge covered with snow and ice which sparkle in the sun. The ridge is situated in the north west part of Tien Shan in Kirgiztan. It stretches for 400 km from the west to the east from Jambul till the Boomsky gorge of the Chu river. Its north part crosses the Talassky and Kara-Moynok ridges. The summits of the Kirgizskiy ridge reaches 5000 m of height, the highest peaks are Semenov-Tien-Shanskiy (4875 m) and West Alamedin (4856 m). The highest point of the Karamoynok ridge is the Shnitnikova peak (4281m). The total area of freezing is more than 500 square km.
        Powerful tectonic movements and soil erosion form the relief of the region. Large screes, which are typical for the relief, are the results of weathering.
        Atmospheric processes, sun radiation and some other things have a great influence on the climate too: they stand at the way of air masses from Atlantic and Cyclones Siberia and Kazakhstan. Warm airs are formed in the south of Central Asia, but they almost don’t come to the region, because of the high mountain chains.
        Besides, there are local winds which are generally warm and dry. Mountain breezes influence on the direction of the wind in gorges of the ridge: it is north during a day, and northwest at night. Air speed in highlands reaches 3 m per second, in passes- 4 or so m per second. Winds in valleys blow from mountains and valleys . Humidity is generally 60-70% and it is not changed during a year.
        As a whole, climate of the region is continental, but relief difference causes contrasts of the temperature and humidity. The quantity of precipitation depends on altitude and season. It is moist, rainy and snowy in spring. The quantity of precipitation is 80 mm per a month.
        Summer is moist and cool. The average temperature is +12 C. The warmest and driest month of summer is August. Autumn is clear and dry, the warmest and driest month of autumn is September. November is a cold winter month. The quantity of precipitation in winter is 50 mm, mainly in November. Winter is cold but not severe. Ridges stand in the way of winds. In highlands winter is colder, because of the height. The coldest month is February. The average temperature at the height of 2100 m is -7.5 C. In winter warm winds often blow in the Kirgizskiy ridge, which cause thaws; the temperature raises till 0 C and more. Precipitation in winter is 80 mm, generally it is snow.
        The total quantity of precipitation is not large (520-760 mm per a year) and depends on altitude. It increases in summer and decreases in winter. The driest month is September. The moistest month is May. Summer in mountains is moist, in July in highlands precipitation is 7-8 times more than in low mountains.
        North slops are moister than south ones. The height of snow-line depends on exposition of slops: it descends till 3600-3800 m in the north slops and reaches 3900-4200 m in the south slops. Ridges are snowcapped for 200 km between uppers of the Merke and Kindykty rivers in the west and the Shamsi pass in the east. The main glaciers are situated here. Passes and gorges suit for mountaineering and hiking, north spurs of the Kirgizskiy ridge being more difficult to cross. The most difficult and interested passes are situated in the Alaarchinskiy and Alamedinskiy spurs. The region of the Ala-Archa river is highly visited, and camp for mountaineers is situated right here. The Karamoynok ridge is less visited.
        These two ridges are rather different. North slops have large freezing; south slops don’t have glaciers as a rule they are rocky and destroyed. Asymmetry of the ridges causes a big quantity of one-sided passes. The way of their crossing and equipment depend on their direction.
        Highlands of Kirgizskiy ridge is like alpine. There are different glaciers here. Many of them are covered with breaked rocks, all have large moraines. There are many big breaks and ice falls. Glaciers of the region descend till 3000 m. The rate of movement of glaciers is about 30 m per a year.
        Rocks are generally destroyed, but monolith walls, buttresses are met sometimes. There are many mobile screes containing broken rocks of different sizes.
        Rivers are of mountain type. Their feeding is combined, on the one hand, they get water from glaciers, on the other hand-from snow and rain in summer. Generally rivers are full this time. Flowing depends on season, it is 10% in spring, 62% in summer, 19% in autumn and 9% in winter.
        As for lakes of the region, they are not large, shallow. There are many picturesque lakes in upper reaches of the Alamedin gorge.
        There is a national park in the valley of the Ala-Archa river. It is necessary to get special permit to visit this place.
        The Kirgizskiy ridge is situated not far from Bishkek and it is rather easy to get there. Valleys of big rivers are well developed, they have good roads which lead to upper reaches of Ala-Archa and Kegeti rivers. There is a good road through the Kegety pass to the valley of the Karakol Vostochny river. Valleys of big rivers have bus connection with Bishkek.
        Developing tourists routes in the region started in the 70s. More than a half passes of the Kirgizskiy ridge are well known nowadays. As for Karamaynok ridge, there is no much information about its passes.
        Many passes are of 1A, 1B category of complication, others are of 2A, 2B. They differ from each other. There are many passes of 3A category of complication. Generally they have snowy and crumbly slops in the south and east, steep iced or rocky-in the north and west. Therefore it is advisable to cross passes in different directions, for example, to cross one pass from the west to the east, and another pass-visa versa. It makes you possible to have difficult hiking of high category.
        In conclusion, we should notice, that the region becomes more popular. Good roads, a big quantity of clear rivers, beautiful nature, all these attract more
and more people.

Zailiyskiy Alatau and Kungey-Alatau

        The north spurs of mountain system rise to the south above Alma-Ata, which is divided into Zailiyskiy Alatau and Kungrey-Alatau. The Issyk-Kul lake is a natural boundary of the region in the south.
        Zailiyskiy Alatau expands in latitude direction for 280 km, its width is above 40-60 km. It is divided into west, central and east parts. In the west Zailiyskiy Alatau has two branches.
        The highest points of the ridges are between the Kumbel in the west and Amanzhol passes in the east of the central part of the ridge ( the Talgarskiy peak is 4973 m). The central part has 370 glaciers with total area of about 540 square km. Snow-line is at 3800-4100 m, on the north slops it is at the height of 3800-3900 m, and in the north ones is at 4000-4100 m. The ends of the valley glaciers descend along the north slop till 3200-3500 m.
        The biggest glaciers of Zailiyskiy Alatau are Korzhenevkogo (12 km), Bogatyr (8 km) in the south slops of the ridge; Dmitrieva (6,6), Konstitutziya (4,6) and Taguzak (4,5) in the north slops.
        There are many rivers which have its sources in glaciers of Zailiyskiy Alatau. The Uzun-Kapgalu, Chemolgan, Kaskelen, Alsay, Bolshaya and Malaya Almaatinki, Talgar, Issyk, Tyrgen rivers flow into Ili. The south slop is cut through by the valley shallow rivers.
        Relief of Zailiyskiy Alatau has “alpine” appearance, but differs by deep breaks. It is a place of steep, often vertical, rocky slops. Then it comes mountain relief. Low mountains, highlands with wide valleys are typical for west and east spurs of Zailiyskiy Alatau. General features of the central part of the ridge are mud flows. Slops, facing the north, are covered with snow or ice, north ones-with big screes of destroyed bed-rocks. Lots of valleys of Zailiyskiy Alatau in upper and middle parts are partitioned off by the old and new moraines. They cover large area till 20% of freezing.
        Chain of snow summits of the Kungrey-Alatua ridge expands to the south of Zailiyskiy Alatau, after deep valley of the Chilik and B. Kemina rivers. It borders the Issyk-Kul lake on the north.
        Kungey-Alatau begins in the region of Boomskiy gorge in the west and expends in latitude direction. It makes arc, facing the north and ending in the east near the valley of the Karkara river. The ridge stretches for 275 km. Its average height is 3700 m.
        Kungey-Alatau is rather narrow alpine chain. Its width in its highest part is 30-35 km. The highest point is situated in the Chotkalskiy mass (4771 m) and in the central part of the ridge is Keminskiy peak (4643 m). There are many beautiful summits of 4500-4600 m. The Zailiyskiy and Kungey-Alayau ridges draw together here. The distance between them shorten till 8 km. The Chiliko-Keminsaya cofferdam is a watershed between the largest Chilicom and Chon-Keminon rivers of the region.
        The total area of freezing of the Kungey-Alatau ridge exceeds 400 square km. There are 427 glaciers. The area of freezing of the north slop is much more than on the south one because of the moist air.
        Most glaciers have different forms of freezing. The biggest of them are Zhangyryk (8,9 km), Uzhniy Zhangyryk (8 km), Atajayloo (Chon-Ak-Suu, 7,6 km), Noviy (6,4).
        The altitude of glacier snow-line depends on exposition, the average altitude of the north slops is 3800-3850 m, the south ones is about 4000 m. Glaciers descend till 3550-3600 and 3650-3700 m accordingly.
        Moraines, old troughs, terraces are met in Kungey-Alatau. There are 100 rivers, which are fed by glaciers in Kungey-Alatau. The main rivers are Dure, Kashka-Suu, Zinolynsy, Kprumdyk, Zharbulak, Zheldysay, Kugantor, Kayrakty, Sutbulak and other rivers flow from the north slop. These rivers are tributaries of Chilik, which then flows into the Ili river.
        Rivers of the south slop often have the same names as the rivers of the north slop. The belong to the basin of Issyk-Kul lake. They are Dure, Kobyrga, Chotkal, Koysu, Orto-Koysu, Chong-Koysu, Cholpon-Ata, Bakty-Dolonaty, Orto-Dolonaty, Chetki-Dolonaty, Chong-Ak-Suu, Ak-Suu and others. All these rivers are not big (15-35 km of length), saying nothing about Chong-Aksu, its length reaches 50 km. Level of the rivers changes accordingly with season and day. Generally they are full in July.
        It should be noticed that rivers of Zailiyskiy Alatau and Kungey-Alatau are swift and full like any mountain rivers. As a rule, there are no bridges over rivers, therefore on has to choose the most comfortable and suitable place and time to cross it. Crossing of the Chilik and Chong-Kemin rivers is possible only in the upper reaches. Bridges and ropes are met sometimes only in the lower reaches.
        Zailiyskiy Alatau and Kungey-Alatau are famous for its picturesque lakes. Many lakes are moraine, they appeared on the bottom of the mountain valleys. As a rule these lakes are situated high near glaciers ends. Another group of lakes appeared owing to a damp of the valley by mountain landslides. Such lakes have stretched form, rocky steep banks, generally they are deep. The most beautiful lakes are considered to be the Bolshoe Almaatinskoe lake, Jassyk-Kel, Chong-Kel-Tor (Kol-Kogur), chain of lakes in the Taldy, Kelsay valleys.
        Dry steppe at foothills of ridges changes into gardens and groves. These are forests and meadows above them, and then it comes glaciers which sparkles on the ridge. Such contrast between foothills and high mountains depends mainly on moisture. It is raining at foothills and snowing in mountains. The temperature decreases from the west to the east, and quantity of the precipitation increases.
        At the basin of the Chong-Kemin river at 3600 m the average temperature of January is -13,9 C, July- +2,5 C, this is the warmest month of a year. The average temperature of a year is -5,6 C. The highest temperature of a year is +18 C. The lowest one is -30C. Precipitation is 633 mm, at the low part of the valley is 433 mm. Rate of precipitation of summer is 54%.
        In the north and south contrast of the temperature is not so obvious. The quantity of precipitation in the north slops of Zailiyskiy Alatau is much more than in the south slops of Kungey-Alatau.
        The nature of the region is various. Lifeless valleys change into beautiful gorges covered with fir-trees. The region of coniferous forest lies at 1600-3100m. Generally the forest covers north, northeast and northwest spurs of gorges. There are edelweiss next to glaciers.
        Flora of the region is rather rich. There are more than thousands kinds of vegetation. Wild apple-trees, dried apricots, aspens, birches, bayberries, dog-roses, raspberries grow mainly at 1300-1700.
        The beautiful nature, the variety of relief and good roads make the region of the Zailiyskiy Alatau and Kungey-Alatau ridges very popular.
        The most interesting region for tourists is the central part of the mountain region, including Cheliko-Keminskiy. The main glaciers are concentrated here as well as the most beautiful and complicated passes. They are of different category of complication. The altitude of the main passes are from 3500 up to 4700 m in Zailiyskiy Alatau and from 3700 up to 4300 m in Kungey-Alatau.
        The speed of glaciers’ movement is low. There is no ice-fall here. There are cracks and gullies in glaciers.
        The region is easy to reach. The popular routes are from Almaa-Ata or from other towns or villages from the north to the south, to the Issyk-Kul lake and back.

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