Trek to Belukha Mountain and Akkem Lake
11-12 days in Altai mountains.
Season: May to September
Belukha Mountain (Russian: Белуха, lit "whitey"; Altai: Muztau or Üç Sümer), located in the Katun range of Altai, is the highest peak of the Altai Mountains. It is part of the World Heritage Site entitled Golden Mountains of Altai.
Belukha is a three-peaked mountain massif that rises along the border of Russia and Kazakhstan, just a few tens of miles north of the point where this border meets with the border of China. There are several small glaciers on the mountain, including Belukha Glacier. Of the three peaks, the eastern peak (4,506 m, 14,784 ft.) is the highest and summitting Belukha means summitting its East peak. The western peak is 4,440 m, or 14,567 ft.
Belukha was first climbed in 1914 by the Tronov brothers. Most ascents of the eastern peak follow the same southern route as that taken in the first ascent.
Akkem lake is the lake on the north of Belukha Mt., it's sourced by the water flown from Akkem glacier. Its length from north to south is 1350 m, the width is 610 m. The lake has white-grey color and surrounded by bushes of tundra.
Day 1. We meet you at the airport / train station of Novosibirsk or Barnaul or Gorno-Altaysk. Welcoming lunch in one of the restaurants of the city center, the choice of cuisine can be discussed in advance. After the lunch we drive to Gorno-Altaysk which will take about 6 hours from Novosibirsk or 2-3 hours from Barnaul (4WD car or minibus). Gorno-Altaysk is a small town in Altai mountains. Dinner in the town. Overnight in 3-4 stars hotel in Gorno-Altaysk. Double occupancy.
Day 2. Early breakfast. Today we drive by 4WD jeep from Gorno-Altaysk to Tyungur village. Our road is the famous Chuysky trakt highway. And part of it goes along Katun river – the biggest river of Altai. By evening we arrive to Tyungur. Dinner and overnight in Vysotnik guest house.
Day 3. First day of the trek. Today we wake up early. We can leave some of the luggage at Vysotnik. Then we get on to GAZ-66 car and drive to Yelan village at Kucherla river. GAZ-66 is a Russian 4WD car which can carry up to 2 tonnes of weight and is designed for off-road. From there we walk for a couple hours until we reach our campsite. Horses will carry our luggage. Dinner by fire. Overnight in tents.
Day 4. Today the first part of our trek goes in cedar forests. Then we reach a plateau up in the mountains and Stone hut. Quick lunch. We have a wonderful view on Kucherla river canyon and Kucherla lake as well as the snow peaks of the mountains. Overnight in tents.
Day 5. Today is quite a difficult day, 8-9 hours walk. We cross the famous Kara-Tyurek (Black Heart) pass 3060 meters high, the pass is sometimes covered by snow. But all the difficulty is compensated by the fantastic panoramic view on beautiful Belukha mountain, milk like water of Akkem lake and the Lake of Spirits which looks like malachite mirror. By the evening we reach Akkem lake which is on the elevation of 2050 meters. Overnight and dinner in Vysotnik high camp guest house. You can also relax at banya (Russian sauna).
Day 6. Today after breakfast we to Ak-Oyuk Valley of Seven Lakes – on the way we see the most beautiful meadows and water falls as well as the wonderful lakes and white peaks of Altai. The highest of the Seven Lakes are on the elevation of 2600 meters. This walk takes about 6 hours.
The other option is we can visit Yarlu Canyon which is full of ancient tales and which has beautiful rocks light blue in day time or pink in the evening.
Overnight in Vysotnik high camp guest house.
Day 7. Today we can walk to Akkem glacier. On the way we see 40 meters high water fall, cross a pending bridge and see the ruins of Arkhangel Mikhail Chapel. If we wish we can also visit the Lake of Spirits which is in Kara-Oyuk valley (Black valley). Local spirits live in the valley, as local people say.
Overnight in Vysotnik high camp guest house.
Day 8. Today we descend from Akkem lake. First we walk for almost 9 hours along Akkem river valley to Three Birches village. And then we drive by GAZ-66 to Tyungur village. Overnight and dinner in Vysotnik guest house at Tyungur. Optionally we can take a helicopter for the additional cost: the flight from Akkem lake to Tyungur is $250 per person.
Day 9. Drive back from Tyungur village to Gorno-Altaysk. On the way we can visit Roerich Museum in Uymon valley or Stone Museum. We also will stop at Seminski pass for lunch and for buying souvenirs. We can have a dinner in the town center. Overnight in 3-4 stars hotel in Gorno-Altaysk.
Day 10. Your morning flight from Gorno-Altaysk to Moscow and from Moscow you can fly to your country. Or we will drive you from Gorno-Altaysk to Novosibirsk or Barnaul. Lunch in a cafe on the way. Overnight flight from Novosibirsk or Barnaul to home country.