We didn't use gas gear and tent.
The East Sayan ridge stretches from Tuva and Khakassia to Krasnoyarsk krai. The highest point of this ridge is Kyzil Taiga (3122m) mountain in east Tuva. There are world of wild and untouched nature.
We have decided to do a circuit route through Khakassia and Tuva in august 2008. Our international group consist of participans from Bydgozhsh (Poland), Miass, Mezhdurechensk, Tomsk and Abakan (Russia). The age of participans varied from 18 to 45 years old.
We met in Mezhdurechensk city and left by railway to Abaza. It is a small and cozy town located in the Sayan mountains. Low-rise apartment buildings are close to rural houses among the forest slopes of mountains. In the gardens you can see cherries and apples. We stayed on the flat of our friends and took short excursion through the town.
In the early morning we left Abaza and went to destination - border of Khakassia and Tuva. At 11.30 we started hiking under the shining sun. After some brooklet wading we climbed the first pass called Kohoshsky where the wonderful view to Kurukul valley was opened. The road Abaza-Ak-Dovurak was behind us and exciting, wild and untouched area lay before us. To the front we saw Karatosh massif - highest point of Khakassia.
We took number of pictures and went to down along Kurukul brooklet. Some time ago there was the fire ad a lot of trees were burned. In the afternoon we took a break. Maras as lover of natural food took out the vegetables and cooked an excellent borsch.
The descent on the good trail was fast and we got to the rivers Ona and Karatosh in the twilight. Water level was low in this time and we crossed rivers without any causes. We stayed at same place as one year ago. Ona river was rustling while we set by the fire and told stories to each other.
In the morning we continued hiking to Posarym lake. Vegetation offered by larches and birches in the foerst, and bushes of prairieweed in the open space. Sometimes we hiked up along the Karatosh river crossing the brooklets. It was a bit adventurous to go on a slippery log :-)
The sky was clouded and wind started blowing. In the evening we got point at the bottom of Karatosh massif. The weather looked unfriendly but we decided to climb anyway.
The next day we started climbing Karatosh. The first steps were hard because all vegetation was wet and cold. We climbed in the dense forest along the path of animals. In a some time we got a woodless zone. On the stones we glimpsed the family of wild goats and snowcocks.
There was thick fog on the summit, and it was snowing a bit. We took a couple of pictures and went down. The sun emerged and the horizon was opened. We spent about hour on the slope and went to our camp.
In three hours we've got to the Posarym lake. This basin has untouched environment and there are about one hundred visitors per season, that's why it's my favorite place in southern Siberia. On a mirror-like surface a couple of common loon was visible. Their loud and unusual cries are memorized easily. I decided to spend the night on a shore of lake out of tent and it was amazing experience!
In the early morning evaporation from the water surface formed into clouds and rose to the air. After a rest we started hiking to Pogranichny pass located on the border of Khakassia and Tuva republics. Heading to the South in 3 hours we reached pass. Tuva is very separate and uncommon region in Russia. There aren't any railways in Tuva and it's possible to go there only by bus or car. Tuva has northest deserts in the world and center of Asia located there.
We looked round from Pogranichny pass. Mountain steppe streched for kilometers to south. Glaciers were visible on the horizon.
We descented and started a long hike across the highland. It wasn't piece of cake to hike under the sun. In the afernoon we made a lunch in the bushes of yernik. There was a horse path connected Khakassia and Tuva.
We reached Kara-Hol valley at 18 p.m. The path started descent steeply and we were careful to avoid falls. Loud cries of cranes resounded over the valley. Terrain in the valley was flat like a table surface. It was getting dark fast while the sun hided behind the mountains. We crossed the plain and set up the camp in the forest. The night was silent and we saw the stars aboue our heads.
In the early morning Victor went up to mountain to get pictures of dawn and we hiked to Kara-Hol lake. There was something unreal to be in a remote place where tuvinian cattle-breeders live as hundreds years ago. Motorways are absent on the northern part of Kara-Hol and you can see only horse pathes. It looks like a park without garbage and hikers. There were only flocks of sheep and couple of herdsman. Wind didn't blow and there was almost absolutely silence. We went along the path to Kara-Hol lake, pretty big basin with steep slopes. Different ducks and sandpipers feeded on the shallow water.
The water was enough cold but we made an attempt to swim. Brr... I could spent only half of minute in this lake. Then we returned to our camp, ate a meal and went to the east along Ustyu-Eldig-Hem river. We were dripping with sweat and the trail wasn't distinct. The path stretched on the right woodless bank of river. This day temperature was very hot despite of little clouds in the sky so we sweated again. The stop was on the flat ground with plenty of dry branches. While we were sitting at the fire, we saw siluets of bats and heard the piercing whines of young owls.
In the morning we countinued our trip to the east. The ascent to Kolbak-Pesh-Pazhi-Art was gentle but long.
I catched sight of deer on the opposite bank of Ustyu-Eldig-Hem, he noticed me too and hided into the trees. The pass was very wide and we saw far away in the valley salvational shadow of the trees. While we were getting down, the clouds start to gather together, but the rain passed by. Near the brooklet we glimpsed ice, it was surprising because we didn't see any snow or ice on the top of Karatosh mountain (about 2900m).
The path dove into forest with larches and cedars.
In last hiking day we returned to road. But it was not easy as I wrote:) We made passage to north-east and climbed to pass, where we saw Kyzyl-taiga mountain (3122m). While trekking we saw sable and roe near the brooklet. Our trip was finished but our heart remained in Sayan mountains.
And some of Sayan pictures from trip 2007: