Route: Almaty - Medeu Sport Complex - Shymbulak Ski Resort - Talgar Pass - Bogdanovich Glacier - T-1 Glaciological Station - Cosmostation - Altyn Emel National Park - Singing Dune (Almaty Region, Kazakhstan)
Season: April - June
Complexity: intermediate, with elements of mountaineering (skills of hiking in crampons and using ice-ax are required). Suits for fit and well-trained skiers and snowboarders with confident level of riding off-piste. *It is required to have set of avalanche equipment.
Heights difference: base camps will be set up at an altitude 3200-3400 m.a.s. Daily elevation gain is approx. 1200-1500 meters. Length of descents is from 500 meters up to 3 kilometers. Steepness of the slopes is from 15 up to 45 degrees.
DAY BY DAY ITINERARY
Day 1. Almaty - Talgar Pass
Having met your guide, you will board a comfortable minivan to start driving to Medeu Gorge, where you will take a cable car to the highest point of Shymbulak Mountain Resort - Talgar Pass at an altitude of 3163 m.a.s.l. Accommodation in traditional Kazakh yurt on Talgar Pass. Hiking on Shymbulak summit (3450 m.a.s.l.) located nearby for acclimatization. Watching sunset, admiring stunning panorama of the high mountains and the city. Coming back to the yurt. Dinner in Kazakh national style. Overnight in the yurt. There is traditional yurt, so the sleeping places will be arranged straight on the floor in sleeping bags. The whole yurt and the floor are heated.
Days 2. Talgar Pass - Bogdanovich Glacier
Early wake up at around 05:00. Breakfast, preparing equipment for the route. No later than 07:00, you will start moving to the west, in direction of Bogdanovich Glacier. This day and after you will make radial hikes to the peaks located in the cirque of Bogdanovich Glacier. Elevation gain: 900-1000 meters, descend length ~ 6 km, duration: 5-6 hours. Slope gradient: 20 – 45 degrees.
Bogdanovich Glacier is located under the eastern slope of Nursultan peak. The glacier is named by glaciologist Dmitriev in 1911, in honor of Karl Bogdanovich, the Polish-Russian professor-geologist, researcher of the earthquake that occurred in the city of Verny in 1910. After the earthquake, he came to Verny for research. The result of his stay in Verny was the work that contributed to the seismology and outlined the tectonic scheme of the region. Together with I. Karl and D. Mushketov in 1910, he drew up a plan for Verny city. From the observation point of Bogdanovich Glacier a magnificent view of the surrounding peaks opens: Amangeldy Peak, Nursultan Peak, Karlytau Peak and many other.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PEAKS IN THE CIRQUE OF BOGDANOVICH GLACIER:
Chkalov Peak (3892 m a.s.l.) The summit is entirely located in Left Talgar gorge and it is the northern extremity of Komsomol spur. The western slopes belong to Sauryksay gorge, the eastern slopes descend into a small narrow Komsomol gorge. Routes are from the simplest to medium category of complexity. All routes originate on the moraines of Bogdanovich glacier. The peak is named after Valery Chkalov, the legendary pilot of the 30s of the last century. There is a legend, that Chkalov landed his plane on the top. Unfortunately, this is only a legend. There is no space for landing the plane there.
Athlete Peak (4068 m a.s.l.) The peak is located in the Komsomol spur between Chkalov peak in the south and Nursultan peak in the east. Routes are from the simplest to medium category of complexity. All routes originate on the moraines of the Bogdanovich glacier.
Nursultan Peak (4376 m a.s.l.) The peak is located in the upper reaches of Bogdanovich glacier, north of Karlytau peak, east of Sportsman peak. From the northern slopes Komsomol glacier flows. The right branch of Bogdanovich glacier flows down by the north-western slope. The eastern slope faces Left Talgar gorge. The history of Kazakhstan mountaineering began from ascent to this peak on July 17, 1930. Five routes of the medium category of complexity were laid on this peak. In 1935, name was changed from Small Almaty Peak to Komsomol Peak. Starting from that time mass ascents - alpiniads are held on the peak. Tradition of these Soviet alpiniads was continued by mountaineers of moden time after Kazakhstan has got independence. Mass alpiniad is held every year, on the birthday of the first President of Kazakhstan. Nowadays the peak has name Nursultan.
Karlytau Peak (4170 m a.s.l.) The peak is located at the junction of the East and Azutau spurs of the Small Almaty Spur. To the east of it Aristov peak is located, in the south there is Manshuk Mametova peak, to the west there is Panfilov Guardsmen's peak. From the northern side, the summit is completely covered by Bogdanovich glacier, on the southern slope there are outcrops of rocks and steep taluses. The absence of rocky slopes and taluses on the northern slope and simple ascent to the peak made this route popular among fans of extreme skiing and snowboarding. The slopes of Karlytau are steep and dangerous because of avalanches, descents from the peak require good physical training and special equipment.
Pioneer Pass (3870 m a.s.l.) The pass is located in the Azutau spur, an arm of Small Almaty spur, between Amangeldy and Pioneer peaks. It connects Mametova glacier of Small Almaty gorge with Bogdanovich glacier, Sauruksay gorge in basin of Left Talgar gorge.
Abay Peak (4010 m a.s.l.) The peak is located in Azutau spur between Yoshkar-Ola peak in the south and Schoolkid peak in the north. Small Abay glacier flows down from the northern slope. Western slopes belong to Small Almaty gorge, eastern ones belong to the circus of Bogdanovich glacier. There are two routes to the peak - the first and the second category of complexity. It is named after Abay Kunanbayev, the great Kazakh philosopher, enlightener and thinker. In 1995, the first president of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, climbed to the top.
Coming back to the yurt, rest. Lunch in the yurt or in “Bar 3200” located on Talgar Pass (not included into the tour price). Dinner in Kazakh national style in the yurt. Overnight in the yurt.
Day 3. Talgar Pass – Shymbulak mountain resort - T-1 Glaciological Station
Wake up at 07:00. Breakfast. Packing stuff and moving to the low point of Shymbulak (by cable car or skis, depends on quantity of snow). Transfer to Mynzhylky area by car. Ski-touring to Tuyuk-Su Glaciological station. (3 km, elevation gain 450 m).
T-1 scientific glaciological station is located on the moraines higher Mynzhilki dam. Station was built in 1956 as part of the International Geophysical Year (1957-1958) and it still works. The station holds long-term observations of Tuyuk-Su Glacier and records how it changes. At the moment, according to the results of glaciological researching, Tuyuk-Su Glacier is considered to be the most researched glacier in the world.
Arrival to T-1 glaciological station. Accommodation in mountain hut or iron barrels transformed into the shelters. Lunch and rest. In the afternoon, if desired, skitouring to the closest observation view point, from where a wonderful sunset and panorama of the city opens. Dinner, free time, overnight in the hut.
Days 4-5. T-1 Glaciological Station - Cirque of Tuyuk-Su Glacier
Early wake up at around 05:00. Breakfast, preparing equipment for the route. Start is not later than 06:30. This day and after you will make radial hikes to the peaks located in the cirque of Tuyuk-Su Glacier: Youth peak (4150 m.a.s.l.), West Ordzhonikidze Glacier (4024 m.a.s.l.), shoulder of Tuyuk-Su Glacier (4200 m.a.s.l.), Pogrebetskiy Peak (4231 m.a.s.l.), Locomotiv peak (4209 m.a.s.l.), North Youth Pass (3880 m.a.s.l.) in cirque of Green Kar. Elevation gain: 600-800 meters, descend length ~ 4-6 km, duration: 5-6 hours. Slope gradient: 20 – 45 degrees. Coming back to the station T-1, rest. Lunch, walking in surroundings. Dinner and overnight in the hut. Bath-house if desired.
Cirque of Tuyuk-Su Glacier is the upper part of the Malaya Almatinka river basin, flowing down from the northern slope of the Trans-Ili Alatau ridge and located between Small Almaty spur and Kumbel spur. Cirque of Tuyuk-Su Glacier is represented by two valley-type glaciers and eight glaciers of the mountain slopes, four of them are hanging, two - crust-hanging, one - crust glacier and one - loopback glacier. The Central Tuyuk-Su Glacier itself is symmetrically located in the center of cirque, which closes the valley and stretches from south to north. This glacier is a classic valley glacier, with a clearly defined feeding area and an elongated tongue. Central Tuyuk-Su Glacier is located on the slopes of Pogrebetsky Peak, and flows into the valley. The slopes in the upper part have steepness 35-40 degrees and are broken by numerous crevices.
Day 6. T-1 Glaciological Station - Cosmostation
Wake up at 08:00. Breakfast. Packing stuff. Descent to Mynzhylky or Memorial to the Fallen in the Mountains by skis/snowboards (depends on quantity of snow). Transfer by car to Medeu Sport Complex. Transfer to Cosmostation by comfortable minivan. Lunch in Almaty city on the way. Before arrival to Cosmostation you will visit observation view point where breathtaking panorama of the Big Almaty Lake surrounded by white snowy peaks will be opened. Passing military check-point where you will have to show your passport (boundary zone with Kyrgyzstan Republic). Arrival to the Cosmostation. Accommodation in the mountain hut. Free time. Evening backcountry to Tourist peak if desired. Dinner and overnight in the hut.
Cosmostation is Tien-Shan alpine scientific station of cosmic rays and high energies researching, located 30 kilometers from Almaty city on Zhosaly-Kezen pass in the mountains of Trans-Ili Alatau. The history of the station began in the late forties of the last century. In the Soviet Union, nuclear weapons were beeing created, but scientists did not have enough knowledge about the physics of high and super high energy elementary particles. At that time, super-power accelerators, like the Large Hadron Collider, which was built in Switzerland, have not existed yet, they were invented in the 1950s. High-energy physics could be researched only on natural material - exploring cosmic radiation. By a special order of Stalin, an expedition of nuclear physicists was sent to Pamir, where a high-altitude station was founded. In 1958, the station was moved to the Northern Tien-Shan closer to the capital of Soviet Kazakhstan - Alma-Ata. Since then, all the research that is being conducted here is overseen by the Physical Institute of the Russian Academy of Science named after Lebedev.
Days 7-8. Cosmostation – Summits of Almaty Alagir Mountain Ridge
Early wake up at 05:00. Breakfast, preparing equipment for the route. Start is not later 06:30. This day and after you will make radial hikes to the nearest peaks, situated in the area of Cosmostation:
Turan Peak (3960 m.a.s.l.) is located in the Big Almaty Spur to the east of Tourist Peak and north-east of Momyshuly Peak (formerly Cornice). The peak belongs to the Almaty Alagir mountain range. The former name is INP (in honor of the Institute of Nuclear Physics). Later it was renamed in honor of Turan University.
Tourist Peak (3954 m.a.s.l.) is located in the Big Almaty Spur, south of the Big Almaty Peak, Zhosalykezen Pass and west of Turan Peak. The top is simple and accessible from all sides. In winter, a small ski drag lift operates on its slopes from the side of Zhosalykezen Pass.
Momyshuly Peak (4075 m.a.s.l.) is located between Almaty Alagir Pass in the south and Turan Peak in the northeast. Formerly, the summit was called Cornice. Northern slope is covered by Glacier № 70.
Lunch, rest, free time. Tour around Cosmostation and meeting with researchers who study cosmic particles in their laboratories. Dinner, overnight in the hut.
Day 9. T-1 Cosmostation – Big Almaty lake – Tau Spa centre - Almaty
Wake up around 8:00. After breakfast packing stuff and transfer to the Tau Spa centre by car or minibus. From 11 a.m. till 3 p.m. staying on the territory of spa center and enjoying different types of steam rooms and sauna, swimming pools with icy and hot water, relaxing on sun loungers and admiring the view of Trans-Ili Alatau mountains.
TAU SPA or “TAU Dastarkhan” (what means “mountains and welcome served table”) is a unique high-mountain entertainment complex. Located at the foothills of Trans-Ili Alatau mountains, in the picturesque Alma-arasan gorge. Nine different steam rooms will help you to relieve tension in tires muscles. For you pleasure: Alpine, Himalayan, Turkish hammam, Japanese, Oriental Sufa, Scythians, Finnish, Scandinavian bath-houses, swimming pools with pure, salty, hot, cold water, whirl pools, sun loungers and restaurants. There is special bathing procedure in Scandinavian steam room, which is provided every hour.
Transfer to Almaty city. Dinner in the local restaurant. Transfer to the 3* or 4* hotel. Check-in. Free time. Overnight in the hotel.
Day 10. T-1 Almaty - Altyn Emel National Park - Singing Dune - Almaty
Meeting your guide in the lobby and departure at 07:00. Transfer to Basshi village. (261 km) Lunch in the guest house in Basshi village. After lunch, transfer to Altyn Emel National Park and visiting Singing Dune. (48 km)
Singing Sand Dune appeared on an open rocky plain between Big and Small Kalkan mountains. The area of sand dune is 240 hectares, it consists of two sand dunes: the southern one - 150 meters high, and the northern one - is about 100 meters. The absolute heights of the crests of the sand dunes reach 600-650 meters. A special impression is made by a large southern sand dune, which represents a mountain of pure crystalline sand without any grass, with steep slopes, on which it is impossible to climb up. The history of the dune origin associated with the wind - very often strong winds blow here. For centuries, the western and eastern winds blowing along Kalkan mountains and Ili River brought with them masses of sand and collided at the junction of Big and Small Kalkan mountains, i.e. "wind rose" was formed here. The grains of sand settled in this place and after centuries a huge sandy mountain was formed here. Strong wind and movement of sand on the slopes causes a hum inside the dunes, similar to the sound of a jet plane engine. In windy dry weather top of sand dune seems to be steaming because of the sand drifting. It is curious that the sand dune does not roam across the plain, despite the fluctuation of sand and strong winds, but stays on place for several millennia. Nature of the dune was studied by many scientists, but no single clue was found. The mystery of the sound of the dune gave birth to many folk legends, which still exist. Now Singing Dune is included in the list of "7 wonders of Kazakhstan" by public vote and has the official status of State Nature Monument of Republican Significance.
Hiking to the top of Sand Dune where you will see fantastic panorama of Ili River and Trans-Ili Alatau mountains where you recently have been skiing and snowboarding among glaciers and high rocky peaks. Descent from the dune can be made by feet or by skis or snowboards, what will give you unforgettable emotions and epic photos. Coming back to Almaty city about 20:00. Dinner in local restaurant. Transfer to the hotel. Overnight in the hotel.
End of the program.
*Depending on weather, temperature and snow conditions, the guide can make adjustments to the skiing part of the program.
Please, notice, that it’s required to have insurance for extreme sports for participating in this program!
Required equipment and clothing:
- Avalanche equipment (air bag system and avalanche safety kit: shovel, probe, transceiver)
- Helmet and goggles with a spare lens for bright sunlight and cloudy weather
- Personal AID kit
Clothing and accessories
- Ski/snowboard boots (for skiers with system of switching to walking mode)
- Comfortable functional clothing for riding and ski-touring (base layer - thermal underwear, gore-tex jacket and pants, additional layers of clothing for insulation, downy sweater or vest)
- Extra set of warm clothes, extra pair of shoes (sneakers or lightweight trekking shoes)
- Warm sleeping bag with a temperature below zero in comfort zone, camping mat
- Hat, cap, neck gaiters.
- Sunscreen, sunglasses
- Swimsuit, towel and flip-flops for visiting hot-springs
- Mountain skis/snowboard with ski-touring bindings
- Snowshoes (for snowboarders without splitboard)
- Backpack with volume of 50 liters at least with ski/snowboard fixation
- Ski crampons
- Ice axe, mountaineering crampons
- Thermos for the hot tea, water tank.
- Head torch
- Personal hygiene stuff
- Snacks (bars, muesli, special mount nutrition)