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Home » Issyk-Kul region nature. Central Tien-Shan. Hiking to Borkoldoy-Too ridges.

Lake Merzbacher.

 Tours in nature Central Tien-Shan in Kyrgyzstan. 

“Nature is an infinite sphere whose center is everywhere”

Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Flight by helicopter to lake Merzbacher from Karkara valley.

Merzbacher Lake is located at the mouth of the North Inylchek Glacier Valley behind the ice dam formed by the end of the South Inylchek Glacier. At a high level, the area of ​​the lake 4.5 square kilometers, a length of about 4 kilometers, an average width of about 1 kilometer, the volume of water in the lake is about 200 million cubic meters.
The bed of the lake is dead ice, buried under a 5 - 6-meter thickness of lake sediments. The lake is formed annually. It is fed by the meltwater of the North and South Inylchek glaciers and icebergs, breaking off the cliff of the right side of the South Inylchek glacier, as well as from a glacier located on the right side of the valley and breaking off directly into the lake.
The lake reaches its maximum size at the end of the ablation period and erupts inside the South Inylchek glacier annually, sometimes twice a year, most often in late August - early September (Avsyuk. 19506; Ayrapet Bakov. 1971).
In the narrow lateral valleys of the northern slope of the Engylchek-Too ridge there are small glaciers with cracks and icefalls that do not reach the bottom of the Inylchek river valley. Only the largest of them flows into the valley from gray ice from the moraine polluting it.
Lake Merzbacher M.P. Pogrebefskiy, the first man to set foot on the top of Khan-Tengri, called the extraordinary glacial lake in the Tengri Tag, region Lake Gott-friedMenbacher, as a tribute to one of the persons who contributed most to the study of Tien-Shan.
Not far from the summit of the "Lord of the Spirits," this lake is situated at the junction point between two glaciers, the Severniy (Northern) Engilchek andJudniy (Southern) Engllchek. The lake has two basins on different levels, the surface of which is perennially covered with iceberg and blocks of ice that the atmospheric agents have modelled in bizarre and fantastic shapes - a truly unforgettable spectacle.
The upper basin of Lake Merzbacher, with a diameter of about two km, is 400 meters higher than the lower one. The green and blue water of the upper part is separated from that of the lower one by a tongue of land crossed over by a series of rushing torrents.
At the beginning, of summer, the lower lake, which is about two kilometers long, has a bottom of compact slime on which lie the ice formations that have broken off from the Severmy Engllchek glacier. In the autumn, when the level of the two lakes is at its height, the water flows under the glacier and downhill.
It is situated in the center of Tien-Shan, it occupies the territory of the valley. The length is 4km, the width is 1km. The total area of water is 4,5 square kilometers. The lake was a result of reduction of the glacier Northern Enylchec.
Every year in autumn the water is breaching a dam in 710 days. 60km and is divided into two branches: the Northern and Southern Inylchek flowing from east to west respectively. The southern branch that you may have followed along, if you have not taken the helicopter to reach this place, is the more active one of these two.
Of special interest is the area close to the Merzbacher Meadow (the earth cache location), since most of the active glacier ice does not continue to flow down towards the valley anymore, but turns around the corner to continue for another kilometer towards the north, before calving into the Merzbacher Lake.
Special for the Inylchek glacier are the different layers of debris cover that are easily distinguishable from above the moraine. The debris origins from the different mountain stocks in the surrounding area, whereas most of the material comes from the mountains lying south of the upper Inylchek, like for example the Pik Pobeda massif.
This is due to the fact that on this site, many side glaciers flow into the Inylchek, carrying the different material into the main glacier area. The debris itself consists mainly of the following material: shalestone, marble, charnockite, granite and lime.
Another fact, the Inylchek is famous for is the Merzbacher Lake (you can see it in 4km distance towards the north). This lake was discovered in 1903 by Prof. Dr. Gottfried Merzbacher, a German alpinist, who tried to locate the exact position of the Khan-Tengri at that time and has been hindered to proceed further towards the Northern Inylchek by the water.
An interesting fact about the Merzbacher lake is its glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF), which happens at least once a year and usually in summer time (July - August). When this event occurs, all of a sudden the entire lake drains and the water flows beneath the glacier through subglacial channels towards the east.
Afterwards the lake is more or less empty, but only a huge amount of icebergs remain lying on the dry ground.

Encyclopedia Naryn - Issyk-Kul. Bishkek, 1990.