Day 4: The walk to the Aktru-Glacier

Day 4: The walk to the Aktru-Glacier

On the awakening of the fourth day, we experienced a surprise. Outside it had frozen, and everything was covered with small crystals of frost. I was conceivable glad, that I did not let out my GoPro overnight because I was not sure if it would have survived without damages, even if I taped all the ports and buttons. After breakfast, we started at nine o’clock our way up to the glacier. We walked through the larch and pine forests, that were growing on the northern slopes of the Chuya-Chain, always along the glacial stream, wich carved it’s way down into the Kuray-Steppe. Thriving knee-high shrubs and flowers gave the whole way a further touch of different colors.

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Braided track up to the glacier, flanked by coniferous trees and colorful shrubs.

The road was basically a track that was still passable by SUV’s, now and then we had to let pass some of them. Even in this remote corner of the world, the tourist commercialization grows its circles. Of course, the glacier, therefore, had to be reachable by car. But we walked there, which I thought was very pleasant, cause we were spending a lot of time in the car during the excursion. After an hour’s walk, the forest thinned out and revealed the sweeping view over the gravel of the ground moraine. In many branches the glacial stream sought ways over the huge gravel surface.

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The braided glacial river, which sought its way over the gravel surface.

We still had to cover a long way to the end of the glacier tongue, because it was far receded in the valley since the last great ice age. At high noon we reached the glacier camp, with its research station, a weather station, and the starting point for tours, that were climbing the glacier. The station justified for me the accessibility by car, but however, the growing tourism there is also starting to affect the nature, as a tourist center with some wooden housings, which seem to have a way higher standard than the other housings in the Altay, was built up there. This really destroyed my imagination, that the beauty of nature up there could be preserved forever. Leaving the tourist center behind us, we now climbed up to the mighty detritus of the lateral moraines.

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The view from the lateral moraine down into the valley. You can easily spot the wooden housings, built for tourism purposes.

Until then, we could always only see the upper parts of the glacier, as the  tongue of the glacier was always hidden behind a light bend of the valley. But now, on top of the moraine, the glacier presented its full extent.

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The lower part of the glacier, which is already covered by gravel.

We crossed the field of sharp-edged boulders until we were standing just in front of the glacier or at least the remaining parts of it. For me, it was the first time that I was standing so close to a glacier, only  excluding the puny remnants of the German Alps. I was overwhelmed by the huge masses of ice, that were pushed down the mountain into the valley, which were, already covered with gravel, melting in front of us.

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View on the ice which got transported by the glacier.

I am glad to have visited this glacier because eventually it also will decrease more and more by the rising temperatures. The setting in which we found ourselves really pulled me in a spell and I was grateful that my gift for the appreciation of nature overwhelmed me again.

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The amazing setting with the two other glaciers right next to the Aktru-Glacier.

In my opinion, we had much to less time to stop at the glacier. This is perhaps the only negative thing about the excursion. We had little time to cover a lot of stops, and therefore sometimes the view for the special things stayed unclear. So we went back on the descent, because the whole way was still to walk back, and with the further hiking, the sun began to set behind the summits. Due to different walking speeds, the group split up into smaller parts, which now and then gave me the chance to rest for a few seconds, to process everything, that my senses could perceive that day.

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With those beautiful mountain slopes, it’s realy worth resting a while and apprecieating the wonderful nature.

At 5:30pm we reached the camp. Without the camp being equipped with a shower, we washed ourselves in the glacial stream again. I couldn’t rest in the water more than five seconds, but more would probably have been a too long time to still be healthy anyways. Quickly I also washed a few clothes in the stream, hung them up, and then I was really pleased with the warm vegetable soup that was cooked by the crew for the incoming hikers. The march still in the legs I went, satisfied, and a little bit earlier than usual, to bed, hoping that it might stay a few degrees above zero that night.

 

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1 Comment

  1. Oda
    Tuesday September 27th, 2016 / 05:49 PM

    Lieber Moritz, ich bin total begeistert von deiner einfühlsamen, wirklich gut nachvollziehbaren und auch für einen Laien wie mich absolut verständlichen Beschreibung dieser Exkursion. Die schönen Bilder ergänzen die Texte zu einem Gang durch dieses mir bisher unbekannte Gebiet. Ich freue mich riesig über deine Wertschätzung der noch relativ unberührten Landschaft und die Befürchtung, was den Tourismus anbelangt. Andererseits gibt es hoffentlich auch viele, die sich ähnlich wie ihr verhalten und die Gegend in ihrem Zustand weitgehend bewahren, trotz der Holzhütten.
    Bewahre du dir auf jeden Fall deine Freude und Begeisterung – und die Ehrfurcht.

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