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


Return to my mountaineering-trekking-travel webpage


After our traverse of the Turkestan range, Maksim, Slava and I decided to go to the opposite, north-east end of Kyrgyzstan, in 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 (see here).


100K and 200K Topographic maps of the area: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.


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



Topographic map and itinerary: on foot in purple, by car in green. Each square in the map represents an area of 2x2km. Click here to see the full resolution map.


Our driver at a breakfast stop along the road from Bishkek to Karakol.


Section of the Terskey Ala-Too range where we hiked, roughly from right (west) to left (east). Karakol peak (5218m) is near the center of the picture. I took this photo from the north shore of the Issyk-Kul lake on our way back to Bishkek.


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


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


Maksim and Slava unpacking to set up our first camp, with a local horseman watching.


View from our camp.


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


Reaching Archa-Ter pass (~3800m).


Looking back toward the west from Archa-Ter pass (our ascent path).


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


In the valley of the Dzheti-Ogyuz river.


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



View (toward the north-west) of the valley of the Dzheti-Ogyuz river during our descent.


View over pastures during the ascent of Teleti pass (marked 2 in the map above) from the Dzheti-Ogyuz valley.


Evening light seen from our campsite below Teleti pass.


Teleti pass (3759m), between the Dzheti-Ogyuz and Karakol valleys.


View of the Teleti valley (in the center of the photo), with Teleti pass in the very far background. The Karakol river, which flows from left to right in the picture, is at the bottom. I took this photo after crossing Karakol river, while ascending Panoramic pass (marked 3 in the map above). Panoramic pass lies between Karakol valley and Ala-Kel lake.


Sheep and goat herd seen during the ascent of Panoramic pass.


Karakol peak (5218m) seen on our way to Panoramic pass.


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


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


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




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



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


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



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


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




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


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


An old soviet factory seen while leaving Karakol back to Bishkek.



Return to my mountaineering-trekking-travel webpage