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Altai Discovery Team Altai Discovery Team

Jeeping expedition - 4 countries border - with photo workshop of Oliver Renk (USA). 17 - 26 sept. 2009

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http://www.olivier-renck.com/Siberia

At 8 am the 17th of September we started our photo trip through the Altai to the four countries border – Warm Key Pass. Two Mitsubishi Delicas took on ten people - three crew members and seven photographers, colored trunks with equipment and jerry cans with water on the roofs. We overcame 680 km in the first day and stopped beyond the Chike-Taman Pass for the night. During ten days of the expedition rain caught us just once - in the first night, all the rest time we enjoyed the good weather.

 

First morning in the mountains - the white snow peaks are shining under the sunlight sincethe rain turns into the snow at the higher altitude.  Olivier showed several techniques of using reflectors and shooting pictures for magazines while guides made breakfast and bundled camps.  Next stop at our route was Aktash – here we had to obtain border area permission for Olivier. . Along the way, we’ve made several stops on the Katun River - framed by golden birches and larches its turquoise water was beautiful, especially at the confluence of the rivers Katun and Chuya. At the Wight Bom village got spring water and took some snacks. In the evening we reached the yurt camp and did auto-march to the nearest hill to catch the sunset. 

 

The third day of the expedition was devoted to the discovering of Chuya Steppe. But first, we’ve got border area permits for the Russians at the Kosh-Agach village. That day we saw the life of locals, visited a felt carpet (sarmak) mistress houses, koumiss farm and saw camels in the mountains. Everywhere we were accompanied by children - Sherkhan and Alima, who treat us a traditional hard cheese. Omandzhol's and Oleg's the hospitality and organization were very much appreciated! During dinner sang songs with local musicians, and after we had a photo workshop for photography with a flash, using light brush and shooting the night sky. Tomorrow we were going to have a long way to the Warm Key pass.

 

Good morning, Steppe! High sun, blue sky and few white clouds just for the beauty and depth of the space without time. We stopped for taking pictures near pure stream and, of course, visited Altaian Stonehenge - boulders arranged as a circle with petroglyphs on them - ancient rock carvings. In this mysterious place you feel appeasement, and climbing on one of the stones, and looking at the canvas of Steppe – your thoughts completely dissolved and you're just watching… Here we met frontier guard’s car, officers checked our documents and permits, and were very surprised that we are going to the Warm Key Pass in this season))) Indeed, the end of September - is not the best time for this way as soon as the road easily can be flunked with the snow just for few hours. So, they wished us good luck with weather) Overcome about 40 km of a dirt road through the steppe our Delicas began to climb on a mountain road - broken down with trucks. Driven another thirty kilometers we stopped over night in a canyon on the river bank. Company of the photographers  hiked a hill and met a sunset there. We’ve made the camping and lamb soup was boiling in a pot by their arrival,.

 

The next day we’ve reached Dzhumalinske Kluchi – hot springs - and settled there for two nights at a height of 2300 meters above sea level. Dzhumalinskie Kluchi - a sacred place of the locals - there are many underground springs with different tastes of the water which treat various diseases and geothermal (radon) spring, whose water is always 18 degrees, as well as healing stones, boulders, charged with shamans. There were no any tourists accept us, only locals who came here to improve their health. In the evening all group was happy with mobile hot shower)))

 

September 22 - Warm Key Pass conquest. We left all the extra gear in the camp and took a big car Ural in support - he went ahead to reconnoiter the way. We started to rise from 2300 meters, leaving the bottom the valley of the river Jumaly (Djumala). A certain part of the way passengers of cars overcome on foot, because of the bad road condition - finally we had a great opportunity to stretch the bodies with trekking and to take pictures of amazing peaks of glaciers. At 2500 meters altitude we’ve met the twenty centimeters snow cover. Ural was waiting for us at 2,900 meters – the highest point of the pass near the Unnamed lake. After the lunch we had a trekking to the top of the mountain - a good chance for the implementation of photo project "Mountain fashion”. From the view-point at the top of the mountain we could see stunning panoramas of 3 Altaian ridges  and also the famous Ukok plateau with a gleaming mirror lakes. When we came down, few very curious comrades had decided to discover the pass in the Ural, whose door was closed from the outside with the padlock. Compared with a Delica’s, Ural’s riding seems like a highest level of  adventurism. We went down, staged a photo session in the long rays of the setting sun and turned back. Climbing back to the lake, the car jumped up on a stone and we sniffed the smoke. In few seconds - the door was opened and we’ve just heard - all quickly out! From the safe distance we’ve saw a flame under the cabin. Our driver - Vadim grabed burning blanket the engine was wrapped on. Olivier ran to help Sasha to extinguish the fire – Sasha’s friend, while Vadim ran for a fire extinguisher. A few minutes later it was over, ufff, trying to joke about the situation on the way back ... safe and sound we got to camp, feeling like the real heroes. We celebrated the Pass conquest with a tasty supper and wine, then generously shared emotions and fell asleep soon.

 

Once the delicious pilaf and the last health treatments were over, right in the morning, we moved to Kosh-Agach and settled there just before sunset. The sky throughout this trip was in simple words – Friendly.NOT!))) About 11 pm. We’ve reached the new camp at the Cordon.It is located on the wonderful coast of Katun river at the confluence with the B. Inegen river. We saw a huge stones polished by water with the gold crown of larch and birch at the shores of Katun and were surprised to see the blooming  Rhododendron - it’s unusual for the autumn! After the stone desert we woke up in the sunny morning at this yellow-green paradise full of plants and trees. Before breakfast our photographers wandered along the shore and after meal, the group went to trekking. We took a trip to the sunset in the evening and then finally had the real, good, hot bath with an unlimited amount of cold water!). Wonderful place.

 

September 25 - the last but one day of the trip, have to drive about 300 km to the very excited tourist area - Chemal - who welcomed us with cozy rooms, electricity, light, pilaf and Bath, where we summed up the results of our expedition, slurping a fresh beer. At 5 am, the first Delika went back to Novosibirsk. The second one was not about to wake up early -  had unhurried breakfast and went on an excursion to Chemalsky HPS. Bought souvenirs along the way, drank herbal tea, took pictures ... at 2:00 AM the second Delika headed to the north. Srostki, Talmenka and Russian songs really loudly. Hello Novosibirsk, raining again and 10 C?))) 

 

Consequences of the expedition - we all have a great amount of wonderful pictures and are united by the desire to return!