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Southern Altai in Kazakhstan.

Trekking in Kazakhstan.

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Marcel Achard.

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Southern Altai is located between Bukhtarma River in the north, Zaisan Lake and Black Irtysh River in the south. Irtysh valleydivides it from the western side from Kalbinsky Ridge. In the east it borders upon Ukok plateau.
To the west and south-west from this place there are two chains of mountain ridges. They are divided by Kurchum and Karakoba rivers. Mountain ridges Tarbagatai (2739 m), Sarymsakty (3373 m), Naryn (2400 m) enter the northern mountainous part, and ridges Southern Altai (3483 m), Sarytau (3300 m), Kurchum (2644 m) form the southern part. Between ridges Azutau and Sarytau on the height of 1449 m there is Markakol Depression.
High part of this territory in the east, gradually sloping towards the west, turns into the hilly area. Between the mountain tops you can meet small shallow marshy lakes. The western border of Southern Altai goes through the mountain chain of Kholzun.
On the state border of Kazakhstan with Russia there is the highest ridge of Altai - Katunsky. Its top is Muztau (4506 m). Western, or Rudny Altai comes into the territory of Kazakhstan with the western branches of Altai Mountains.
Rudny Altai consists of Ulbinsky (2300 m), Ivanovsky (2775 m), Ubinsky (2100 m) mountain ridges, which are located on the north-west of Southern Altai. They stretch from the mountain ridge Katun and Ukok upland.
The eastern part of Western Altai is greatly divided and represents high-mountainous area, on the tops of which there is eternal snow and glaciers. In the depths of Western Altai a lot of natural resources can be found: copper, zinc, stannum, lead, tungsten, silver, gold and other metals.
That is why Western Altai is called Rudny Altai (Ore Altai). Kalbinsky Ridge is the continuation of Altai Mountains and it stretches for 400 km to the west from Yertys River. The highest point is Saryshoky (1606 m).
To the west the ridge gradually declines and merges with Saryarka. Saur-Tarbagatai together with the neighbouring ridges forms the single mountain system. It is the continuation of Saryarka in the east.
Saur-Tarbagatai is located between Zaisan basin in the north and Alakol basin in the south. Saur’s highest point is Muztau (3816 m). On the territory of Kazakhstan there is only its northern slope.
On the tops there are glaciers. Tarbagatai in comparison with Saur is lower but longer, it stretches for 300 km. The highest point is Tastau (2992 m). There are no glaciers on the tops. Tien Shan mountain country occupies the south-east of Kazakhstan.
Parts of Central and Western Tien Shan and almost whole Northern Tien Shan enter the territory of the republic. Central Tien Shan starts at the junction of the state borders of China, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.
The highest point of Kazakhstan is located here. It is Khan-Tengri peak (6995 m). There are several ridges going to the west from Khan-Tengri massif. The largest is Terskei Alatau. Along its eastern branch Kazakhstan borders on Kazakhstan.
Northern Tien Shan includes Ketmen, Kungei Alatau, Ile Alatau ridges, Chu-Ile mountains (Zheltau, Aitau) and Kyrgyz Alatau. Ketmen Ridge is separated from Central Tien Shan by the highly raised depression (up to 2300m).
Ketmen in the form of the absolute mountain upland stretches to the south from Ili Valley. The highest point is Nebesnaya Mountain (3652 m). Kungei Alatau enters Kazakhstan with the northern slopes of its eastern part.
It is one of the highest ridges in Tien Shan (Ishanbulak peak is 4647 m). Northern slopes of Kungei Alatau are greatly divided by the waters of Chilik and Kemin rivers. Ile Alatau is the most northern high-mountainous ridge of Tien Shan.
It is stretched from the east to the west for 350 km. Ile Alatau is divided into the western, central and eastern parts. The highest mark in the mountain system is Talgar peak (5017 m). Modern glaciation is widely developed in the central part of the ridge.
Vertical profile of Ile Alatau is characterized by the tiered structure. High-mountain tier that has alpine relief shapes differs with its extremely deep ruggedness (area of Talgar peak, Komsomol Peak).
Chu-Ile Mountains go to the north-west from Ile Alatau. These are greatly ruptured ancient mountains, formed with sedimentary and igneous rocks. Kyrgyz Alatau is located to the west from Kungei Alatau and Ile Alatau.
It is separated for them by Boam Gorge of Chu River. Only northern slopes of the western part of the ridge belong to Kazakhstan. Western Tien Shan on the territory of Kazakhstan starts from Talas Alatau and ridges that branch from it towards south-west.
The largest of them are Ugam and Korzhyntau. Talas Alatau comes to Kazakhstan partially, with its western side. Karatau is located on the territory of Kazakhstan. It is the utmost, greatly ruptured north-western ridge of Tien Shan.

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"Zhetysu is the Land of  tourism”. A Tourist Guide-book. Almaty.  2003. 68 p. and the material for this page is taken from the printed edition."Guide to Kazakhstan"  2002

Alexander Petrov.