Report about a tour to the highest mountain in Siberia, the Belucha (4506 m )

In August we - 4 Germans - have taken part in a tour to Belucha. 2 of us had been travelling one year ago with this agency to Ukok plateau and Tuva territory and because we had made only good experience, it was our second journey with them. The project was to climb Mount Belucha, the highest mountain in Siberia. Although we have been beginners  in climbing, the experienced guides told us, that it would be possible to learn the necessary skills to climb the summit. This trusting in us had been very motivating for us and we tried to improve our fitness by hiking in the Alps.
The first three days of trekking were like projected. Everybody had to carry his personal baggage.  Equipment, tents and food were carried by horses. In midsummer temperatures we walked along Kucherla river, and reached on the third day Kara Tyurek Pass. From this point we could see for the first time the Belucha - the whole mountain free of clouds. This sight is statistically only possible on few days of the year. Soon we reached the Akkem-Lake. This untouched glacier lake with its turquoise coloured water  is something very special. Especially when the wind gets less during sundown the surface gets quiet and the icy north face of Belucha is reflecting in the lake. Long after sundown this headwall is shining.It was relaxing to spend the following day at the lake. We enjoyed the Russian banja in a wooden hut at the lake and after that it was even possible to dive for some seconds into the icecold water of the lake. Borschtsch, Blinis and piroschkis , prepared by the girls of the kitchen team, tasted wonderful. At this camp we had our first training at the woody hill behind: climbing by using a jumar, belaying and rappelling.The next day we walked with our equipment, the tent and dehydrated food in our backpack over and along the Akkem-Glacier to the highcamp "Tomskije stojanki" (about 7 h). We were surrounded by a great landscape. The trail passed the river with its special vegetation, blooming in pink colours. Later we crawled over huge rocks to the  glacier tongue and then  the path winds over ice and  snow along thundering creeks, which had dig its bed deep in the ice of the glacier. In the High camp "Tomskij stojanki" the panorama is impressive. We camped between huge boulders of the moraine, opposite the 1 km long headwall of the Belucha, towered by the summit, above the giant glacier and the river, which is mostly covered by ice.Here we spent one day and  trained on the glacier, what we had learned in the forest, now with crampons :climbing , traversing and rappelling on a fixed rope.The following day started with light snowfall. Now it was getting serious. After 1 h walk on the flat part of the glacier we stood infront of a 200 m high wall, covered completely with ice. This wall is 50 degrees , for us beginners it seemed nearly vertical. We had to climb up 5 pitches , each about 50 m long. We climbed up with small steps, the wall seems never ending, when looking up. The gravity was tearing hard. The weight of the body plus backpack (the women carried 12 - 15 kg, the men at least 25 kg and more) were hanging at the arms and the tips of the crampons, which we tried to ram into the ice. After the first 2 pitches the psychic stress was less, but also the strength. Anyhow we reached finally the end of this wall. We were on “Delone-Pass” (3400).   Now we traversed the Mensu-Glacier,the biggest glacier of the Altai mountains, walking as a roped party. The crevasses , we crossed on big bridges, looked deep. Meanwhile the thunderstorm had been changing  to light snowing and the view was getting worse. After a hard climb we reached finally the "Berelski-Pass " (3700 m), the last camp before the summit. We put up our tents, now it was snowing heavily.Unfortunately it was snowing  whole night and the following day intensely. We rested comfortably in our tents, only going out shortly for cooking and snow shovelling. By satellite phone the guides got the weather-forecast for the next day. It was bad. Because of this and the danger of avalanches there was no chance of reaching the summit.Therefore we started the next day around 12 o'clock our way back and reached after rappelling the "wall" the Highcamp "Tomskije stojanki". After a short rest for eating, it was getting again rather strenuous. We decided to continue our way down to the base camp on "Akkem lake". When it was getting dark, we had already reached the last third of the trail, but this was the most difficult. It was snowing and raining and by the light of our headlamp we had to crawl over huge rocks. It seems never ending. Fortunately we could follow one of our guides , who found the way safely and carried also some baggage of us.  After we had crossed 3 slippery, rottened wooden bridges over the river and creeks with now rather high water, we finally stood infront of our bright and inviting looking group tent. The team of “Altai-guide” has been waiting for us, the warm dinner was delicious. Everybody has arrived well. We were rather wet and tired, but also happy about our own result.The following day at the lake was agreeable. The warm sun was melting the snow and the wet clothes , shoes , tents and equipment  were drying. After the Russian banja we felt very good.The last 2 days back along the "Akkem-river" were without any problems, we had sunny weather again.
The whole preparation and organisation of the tour by the team of "Altai-guide", with the  leading alpine guides Sergej Dolgov and Andrej Bondarovich, was excellent. They have many years of experience and are very engaged. Also the care of us Germans  by Andrej Bondarovich, who speaks very good German, was great. He was helping us as interpreter. This was important for us to communicate with our Russian fellow travellers, to whom we had a good relationship. Some of them speak  English.
 Although we had not reached the summit because of the bad weather , we were satisfied with the result. It was more strenuous, than we had expected. But because of that , we are still more happy about what we achieved. We learned a lot and we liked it .We can recommend "Altai-guide" very much. 
Erika Jöst, Germany, in September 2010 (версия на русском языке, версия на немецком языке)
Дата: 22.05.24