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Author: Alexey Raspopov, Almaty, Kazakhstan

Talgar. The highest mountain of Zailiysky Alatau Range


Each mountain area has its own local colour. But in all dissimilarities, differences and at times contradictions of different mountain areas there is one their joining trait: the mountain that epitomizes each area. Zailiisky Alatau included in Northern group of "Heaven mountains" ranges is associated with Talgar Peak, 5017 m, its highest point, one of the northernmost peaks in the Tien Shan, the most northern "5-thousand" mountain in Asia. Talgar Peak (latitude 43 ° N, longitude 77° E) is the main top of Talgarsky mountain massif that closes the gorge of the Sredny Talgar river.

The biggest glacier of Zailiysky Alatau - Korzhenevsky glacier (it's length is about 12 km) flows from southern slopes of Talgarsky massif. The snow line of northern slopes passes approximately at 3700-3900m.

Climate conditions are continental and strongly and favorably differ from the dry seasonal inland climate of plains. In high mountains (higher 3000m) wintertime sets in the latter half of October. In November, January and February at low temperatures the dry snow falls out and the winds easily blow it off in valleys. At this time the snow-cover height on glaciers and in mountains is low. In March, April and May this situation sharply varies - at this time snowfalls occur at higher temperatures, and in high mountains it's collected more damp snow covering glaciers with a thick 1.5-2 m-layer of snow that lasts up to the middle of June.

Good, steady weather is usually established in the latter half of July. Optimum time for ascents - August, the first half of September.

Three Summit massif of Talgar Peak is appreciably allocated on a background of surrounding mountains. Therefore it is no wonder that the mountain was discovered by scientists in the middle of XIX century. The known mess with orography of the area and identification of its summits at approaches from the north and from the south prevented successful summit attempts for a long time. Only in 1935 a group led by Rakhimov managed to come nearer to Talgar peak having ascended from the north the shoulder of the massif and named achieved place Kopr.

In the same year, during winter time the team of 12 climbers from Almaty headed by V. Zimin reached Talgar SouthWest Summit (4860m). In February 1938, a group from Novosibirsk led by E.Alekseev ascended Talgar North Summit (5000m).

The first ascent Talgar Main Summit (5017m) through the northern top was made by a group of climbers from the Siberian city of Stalinsk (L.Kutukhtin, G.Makatrov, I.Kropotov) in 1938. And in 1940 G.Maslov, V.Pelevin and G.Makatrov traversed the massif from northeast to the southeast.

After the route on the basic summits were paved climbers began to open new more difficult lines. One of them is the interesting, very beautiful route to the North Summit via the West face climbed in 1953 by a team led by V.Pelevin. In 1955 the Talgarskaya Podkova (Horseshoe) included 12 siummits was climbed. The Peaks Karaulchatau, Chekist (Security officer), Aktau, Talgar, Kopr and Metallurg were drawn in organic whole.

In 1958 a team led by Snesarev climbed one of the most complicated routes for today on Talgar Peak South Summit via West Face. Later two more routes 5B-graded appeared there: in 1966 sent by M.Akimenkov's team and in 1978 I.Meshkov's team.

The Talgar area won popular affections among climbers right from the very beginning of its development. Since 1939 in gorge of the river Sredny (Average) Talgar, in a distance of 9km from its mouth the mountaineering camp, initially named "Metallurgist" (later renamed in "Talgar") was settled down and existed practically till 1990. For this time 11 new routes were laid up to the Talgar Summits and plenty of beautiful and various routes on neighboring mountains: Metallurg (4600m), Kopr (4631m), Chekist (4550m), Aktau (4686m), Sportivnaya (4117m), Karaulchatau (4504m).

The most accessible route on the main top of Talgar Peak is a route from Korzhenevsky glacier on the southeast slope, first climbed by a group led by colonel Gorin in 1940. It is possible to approach to the beginning of this route from the gorge of the river Issyk, through Kokbulak pass or from Sredny (Average) Talgar through Surovy (Severe) pass.

Also there is an interesting and accessible route on an ice buttress from Southern Talgar glacier.

During the period 1992-2003 the Talgar area was rather seldom visited by climbers probably because of difficulties with entrance in the Almaty reserve opened in 1993 or because of its relative remoteness from the road. Now the interest to this beautiful area began to be shown up with new force as formalities to pass in Almaty reserve were simplified, and it takes only 5-6 hours to walk 9 km from the end of the road up to the glade where the mountaineering camp was throwing open the gates of climbing some time ago.


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