Terskey Ala-Too Range ― North-East Kyrgyzstan (August 4-11, 2011)

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After our traverse of the Turkestan range, Maksim, Slava and I decided to go to the opposite, north-east end of Kyrgyzstan, the Terskey Ala-Too range, south of Issyk-Kul lake. This mountain range is very different from the Turkestan range. It feels much less remote and wild, and not as mysterious. Due to the proximity of the Issyk-Kul lake it receives much more rain and looks like the Alps (but with higher peaks). It also attracts more climbers and hikers (mostly from Russia) than the Turkestan range.

 

From the village of Kyzyl-su, located 35km east of the city of Karakol, we drove along the Chon-Kyzyl-Su river to the Dzhyluu-Su health ′resort′ (hot spring), where we started hiking. We hiked for 8 days, crossing 4 passes (marked 1, 2, 3, and 4 in the topographic map below). We also crossed two main rivers, Dzheti-Ogyuz and Karakol, before reaching Arashan river. Then we hiked down along Arashan river until we reached the Altyn-Arashan health ′resort′ (another hot spring). From there we returned to the city of Karakol by car. In 1998 I had done a large fraction of this trek in reverse, as an acclimatization trip before going to Khan Tengri (link).

 

Location of our Terskey Ala-Too trek, in red box:

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Topographic map and itinerary: on foot in purple, by car in green. Each square in the map represents an area of 2x2km.

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Breakfast stop along the road from Bishkek to Karakol: here, our driver.

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The section of the Terskey Ala-Too range where we hiked. The photo was taken from the north shore of the Issyk-Kul lake. Karakol peak (5218m) is approximately at the center.

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In the valley of the Chon-Kyzyl-Su river above the Dzhyluu-Su health ′resort′.

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Maksim crossing Chon-Kyzyl-Su river on a precarious bridge.

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View while climbing Archa-Ter pass (marked 1 in the map above).

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East side of Archa-Ter pass (~3800m).

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The Asan-Tukum valley descending from Archa-Ter pass. It is roughly perpendicular to the valley of the Dzheti-Ogyuz river (at the bottom, not visible).

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Valley of the Dzheti-Ogyuz river.

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We did a one-day side-trip to the end of the Dzheti-Ogyuz valley. The highest peak here is 5181m high.

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Evening light from our campsite below Teleti pass (marked 2 in the map above).

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Teleti pass (3759m)

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View of the Teleti valley, with Teleti pass in the very far background. Karakol valley is at the bottom. The photo was taken while ascending Panoramic pass (marked 3 in the map above).

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Another view during the ascent of Panoramic pass. Karakol valley is again at the bottom, with the end of Teleti river visible on the other side.

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Karakol peak (5218m) as seen while ascending Panoramic pass.

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Panoramic view from Panoramic pass (looking south). Karakol peak is in the middle of the photo on the left.

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Ala-Kel lake seen from Panoramic pass (~3700m)

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Two views of Ala-Kel lake, a few minutes apart, showing how quickly the weather can change in this region.

 

 

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Again two photos of the lake taken a few minutes apart while ascending Ala-Kel pass (marked 4 on the map above).

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Starting our descent from Ala-Kel pass (3860m) in sub-optimal weather.

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Reaching Arashan river below Ala-Kel pass, with a beautiful late afternoon light.

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Trees strangely growing on rocks near the Altyn-Arashan health ′resort′, the end of our 8-day trek.

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The beautiful Russian Orthodox Holy Trinity cathedral in Karakol (completed in 1895).

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A street in Karakol. The city has an amazing number of pharmacies (аптека).

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Inside a shopping mall. Many products, but few customers.

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An old soviet factory while leaving Karakol back to Bishkek.

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