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CLIMBING SEMYONOV-TYAN-SHANSKY PEAK (9 DAYS)
Tour duration
9 DAYS
Tour route
The Dzungarian Alatau (Almaty Region, Kazakhstan)

A medium difficulty trekking tour to the highest point of the Dzungarian Alatau, Semyonov-Tyan-Shansky Peak. You will ascend the key gorge of the ridge to see some of the largest Dzungarian glaciers.

Route: The Dzungarian Alatau (Almaty Region, Kazakhstan)
Season: June to October
Recommended period: August to September
Route difficulty: average difficulty trekking
Elevation: 760 to 3500 m above sea level. 

TOUR SUMMARY

Day 1. Almaty—Taldykorgan—Sarkand

Departing from Almaty at 7:00. Arriving in Taldykorgan at 10:00. Visiting the Local History Museum of the Almaty Region. Lunch. Moving to Sarkand (about 159 km). The 2 hours' trip includes 2 to 3 stops near sights of interest and memorial as well as visiting the central office of Zhongar-Alatau National Park.  

Shoqan Walikhanov was the first to mention Sarkand in his essays on exploring Semirechye. It was back in 1857. Sarkand was initially a stanitsa founded by Siberian Cossacks. The first large settlements appeared on the bank of the Sarkand River in 1858, when 22 families moved from Kopal and Lepsi Uyezds. The first school opened in 1872. Sarkand District was established in 1928. In included Cherkasskoye Volost and Lepsi Uyezd. Sarkand became an urban-type settlement in 1964 and a city in 1968. Today it is a small but pretty town. Locals are mostly engaged in agriculture producing excellent wine. They even have a small brewery and a cheese factory. 

Arriving in Sarkand about 6 p.m. Check-in. Dinner, free time, and preparation for the start. An overnight in a Sarkand hotel.  

Kilometers to be driven: about 400.

Day 2. Sarkand to Maly Baskan Cordon to Maly Baskan Valley

Rise at 07:00. Breakfast and packing. Moving to Maly Baskan Cordon. Lunch at the Cordon. Crossing to the right bank of the river and going up Maly Baskan Gorge. The first 2 km will be a relatively difficult path with tall prickly shrubs, nettles, and windbreak. Then there is a decent dirt road leading to the first overnight stop.  

Maly Baskan Gorge lies on the northern slope of the central ridge of the Dzungarian Alatau it is highest part and stretches from south to north. The length of the Maly Baskan River to the junction with he Bolshoy Baskan is approximately 40 km. They meet near Yekiasha village, previously Pokatilovka, so our way to the beginning of the gorge includes the locality. The gorge begins at the circus of the Jambyl Glacier, one of the bigger glaciers in the area. Three highest peaks of the Dzungarian Alatau lie in the eastern part of the Jambyl Glacier: Semyonov-Tyan-Shansky Peak, Smusky Peak, and Abay Peak. Jambyl Peak lies in the western part of the Jambyl Glacier.  

Arriving at the overnight site. We then put up a camp for dinner and rest. 

Kilometers to be driven: about 50. Walking distance: 7 km

Day 3. Maly Baskan Valley 

Early rise, breakfast, and packing. Trekking up the gorge to the upper border of the forest. We will be moving across country throughout the day, sometimes with no path at all. In some places, however, there is a decent dirt road. We will see a number of brooks that join the Maly Baskan. We will have to wade across them. When we have passed the border outpost and crossed the Kumbasay River, we stop for lunch and a short rest. Then we continue moving. We wade across two more tributaries of the Maly Baskan and reach the upper border of the forest, where we put up a camp. We will then have dinner overlooking the mountain tops and rest. 

Total walking distance: 14 km

Day 4. Maly Baskan Valley to the Jambyl Glacier

Early rise, breakfast, and packing. We cross the largest tributary of Maly Baskan, the Archevaya River that begins under the Shumsky Glacier We cross several branches of the overflowing river. The water level can vary depending on the season. We will probably have to wade. A short walk in the alpine meadows is followed by a very nasty obstacle—a huge stone roadblock. When we have crossed the roadblock, we enter more alpine meadows and come to the moraine-dammed lake. The lake's water level varies depending on the season. We stop for lunch and a short rest on the bank of the lake formed by an old moraine blocking the gorge. Then we cross to the moraine formed by the Jambyl Glacier. Putting up a camp for dinner and rest. 

Walking distance: about 12 km

Day 5. The Jambyl Glacier to Maly Baskan Valley

Early rise at 4:30, breakfast and packing. Radial entrance to the Jambyl Glacier, the point overlooking Semyonov-Tyan-Shansky Peak.  

The Jambyl Glacier has a total length of about 6 km, while its exposed part is about 5 km long. Its floor areas is about 11.5 square km. Experts observe the glacier to shrink by about 2.5 m every year. Ablation is relatively intense here as for the area. The glacier was named after the outstanding Kazakh poet Jambyl Jabayev. 

We come down to the glacier moraine for lunch and rest. After lunch, we come down to the Archevaya River along the ascending path. Having crossed the stone roadblock, we choose a camping ground. We then put up a camp for dinner and rest.  

Total walking distance: 16 to 20 km

* Experienced tourirsts are offered an opportunity to climb Semyonov-Tyan-Shansky Peak (4665 m above sea level). In this case the programme will be prolonged by 1 day. 

Day 6. Radial entrance to the Shumsky Glacier

Breakfast. Radial entrance to the Shumsky Glacier. Returning to the camping place for dinner and rest. 

Many tourists who have been to the Shumsky Glacier say it is the most beautiful glacier they have ever seen. Locals call the glacier Saukele, which is the ethnic Kazakh bridal headgear. Indeed, the shape is very similar. This glacier is about the same size as the Jambyl Glacier: it is about 6 km long with an area of about 10.7 square km. The glacier was named after a Soviet scientists, one of the founding fathers of Soviet glaciology, explorer of the Arctic and Antarctic Pyotr Shumsky.  

Returning to the camping place for dinner and rest.  

Total walking distance: 10 km

Day 7. Maly Baskan Valley 

Rise and breakfast. Packing and trekking down the gorge to the upper border of the forest. Having passed the abandoned border outpost, we choose a camping place. We then put up a camp for dinner and rest.  

Walking distance: about 12 to 14 km 

Day 8. Maly Baskan Valley—Maly Baskan Cordon—Sarkand

Rise, breakfast, and packing. Moving to Maly Baskan Cordon for lunch. After lunch we drive to Sarkand. Check-in at the hotel, dinner, and rest.  

Kilometers to be driven: about 50. Walking distance: 7 km

Day 9. Sarkand—Taldykorgan—Almaty

Breakfast. Departing from Sarkand at 9 a.m. Lunch in Taldykorgan on the way. Arriving in Almaty at 20:00.  

Kilometers to be driven: about 400

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