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Backcountry at Aktru

A magnificent adventure for skiers and snowboarders. It is suited for those, who are bored with prepared tracks and huge crowds of people.
Aktru features extended skiing/snowboarding when other resorts are already close for the season.
A magnificent adventure for skiers and snowboarders. It is suited for those, who are bored with prepared tracks and huge crowds of people.
Aktru features extended skiing/snowboarding when other resorts are already close for the season.
For amateurs and professionals

A long activity season from November to May and diverse mountain landscapes of the Aktru valley will be interesting for ski-tourism and snowboarding amateurs as well as for professionals. It is an amazing opportunity for backcountry novices to take a walk wearing snowshoes or using a splitboard and feel like an explorer.
Various routes

There are different spots available: plate glaciers and valley-type glaciers allow riders to choose which routes appeal to them more.
Wonderful place

The Aktru valley, wilderness and remoteness from civilization give an opportunity to feel like a pioneer, to discover an entertaining world of backcountry and to see with your own eyes primordial nature of Mongolian Altay.
Activity diversity

Diversity of activities consists of seasonal factors which is why each rider can get satisfaction from routes. Drop cliffs, glaciers, untouched fresh snow and high mountains - all of it you will find in the Aktru valley.
Route map
Route 1
Descent from the summit Kupol
We start our descent from south-eastern slope to the side of the firn zone of Small Aktru glacier feeding, between the summits Snezhnaya and Karatash. Slope steepness is 15-20 degrees, slope length is approximately 300 m. Crack area is located along the ridge of the summit Snezhnaya under the northern slope towards the summit Karatash. Cracks are located on the right. Then we go down the snowy slope of 30-35 degrees along the scree slope of the summit Karatash to the north. On the right there is an icefall of the glacier around 200 m to the wide track. Then there is a crack area of 100 m on the right and then again to the north along the centre of the glacier, 45 degrees. Crack area, pass to the left and then slope of the glacier Maly Aktru of 20-30 degrees around 500 m. Rope team ascent of the glacier, 3 crack areas. Total length of the descent is approximately 1,500 m.
Route 1
Descent from the summit Kupol
We start our descent from south-eastern slope to the side of the firn zone of Small Aktru glacier feeding, between the summits Snezhnaya and Karatash. Slope steepness is 15-20 degrees, slope length is approximately 300 m. Crack area is located along the ridge of the summit Snezhnaya under the northern slope towards the summit Karatash. Cracks are located on the right. Then we go down the snowy slope of 30-35 degrees along the scree slope of the summit Karatash to the north. On the right there is an icefall of the glacier around 200 m to the wide track. Then there is a crack area of 100 m on the right and then again to the north along the centre of the glacier, 45 degrees. Crack area, pass to the left and then slope of the glacier Maly Aktru of 20-30 degrees around 500 m. Rope team ascent of the glacier, 3 crack areas. Total length of the descent is approximately 1,500 m.
Route 2

Descent from the summit Snezhnaya
We begin our descent to the North toward the summit Karatash, 100 m, 40-45 degrees, dense firn (possibly ice) up to the flattening slope and then turn to the right to the west toward the summit Kupol, 300 m. 5-10 degrees, to the glacier source from the firn zone. Then, Variant 1. Total descent length is about 1,600 m.
Route 2
Descent from the summit Snezhnaya
We begin our descent to the North toward the summit Karatash, 100 m, 40-45 degrees, dense firn (possibly ice) up to the flattening slope and then turn to the right to the west toward the summit Kupol, 300 m. 5-10 degrees, to the glacier source from the firn zone. Then, Variant 1. Total descent length is about 1,600 m.
Route 3

Descent from Stazherov Summit
The snow and ice slope from the top of the mountain to the saddle of the Znachkistov pass. The length of the descent is 450-500 m, up to 45 degrees. No cracks. Descent from the pass to Blue Lake is not very comfortable because of the scree under snow.
Route 3
Descent from Stazherov Summit
The snow and ice slope from the top of the mountain to the saddle of the Znachkistov pass. The length of the descent is 450-500 m, up to 45 degrees. No cracks. Descent from the pass to Blue Lake is not very comfortable because of the scree under snow.
Route 4

Descent from the Maashei pass
Rope team route to the pass. Crossing the glacier Big Aktru up to the first step of the glacier is safe. The first crack area is located along the centre. Then the second step, 15-20 degrees to the left. We reach the glacier field, turn to the south and climb up the pass 300-350 m. Slope steepness is up to 30 degrees. It's always snowy. Big cracks are located before the entrance to the pass. One can start descending on the ascent route. Descent length is 3,500 m. Finish is at the end of the glacier before "Ram's foreheads".



Route 5

Descent from the top of Aktru-Bash
Variant 4 team rope ascend. After passing the second step of the glacier, 300-350 m to the west. The third step is along the centre of the glacier to the left under the ice slope of the summits Yunnost, Studentov. Cracks. After the third step, plateau pass. Direction of the climbing is to the right of the wide saddle and summit Kvadratnaya 200 m. before the foot of the summit Kvadratnaya, 90-degree turn to the right to the north along the snow and ice slope to the top of the mountain Aktru. Slope 450-500 m, up to 45 degrees, will lead you to the saddle between the summit Razdelnaya (on the left) and the ridge of the summit Aktru (on the right). Ice is possible. Descent starts from the pass saddle along the route of the ascent. You cannot get to the ridge as there are dangerous overhangs. The length of the descent is approximately 5,500 m.



Route 6

Descent from the summit Kupol to the cabin
Length: 1,200-1,300 m, 20-30 degrees.
Route 4
Descent from the Maashei pass
Rope team route to the pass. Crossing the glacier Big Aktru up to the first step of the glacier is safe. The first crack area is located along the centre. Then the second step, 15-20 degrees to the left. We reach the glacier field, turn to the south and climb up the pass 300-350 m. Slope steepness is up to 30 degrees. It's always snowy. Big cracks are located before the entrance to the pass. One can start descending on the ascent route. Descent length is 3,500 m. Finish is at the end of the glacier before "Ram's foreheads".
Route 5
Descent from the top of Aktru-Bash
Variant 4 team rope ascend. After passing the second step of the glacier, 300-350 m to the west. The third step is along the centre of the glacier to the left under the ice slope of the summits Yunnost, Studentov. Cracks. After the third step, plateau pass. There can be some small cracks. Direction of the climbing is to the right of the wide saddle and summit Kvadratnaya 200 m. before the foot of the summit Kvadratnaya, 90-degree turn to the right to the north along the snow and ice slope to the top of the mountain Aktru. Slope 450-500 m, up to 45 degrees, will lead you to the saddle between the summit Razdelnaya (on the left) and the ridge of the summit Aktru (on the right). Ice is possible. Descent starts from the pass saddle along the route of the ascent. You cannot get to the ridge as there are dangerous overhangs. The length of the descent is approximately 5,500 m.
Route 6
Descent from the summit Kupol to the cabin
Length: 1,200-1,300 m, 20-30 degrees.
Variants for backcountry
Aktru is an amazing place for backcountry. There are plenty of opportunities to construct obstacles and trampolines for freestyle.
There you can find great tracks for splitboarding and ski touring.
We can offer you short day-trips and more complicated many-days programs.
How to get there
A journey to Altay-Aktru takes almost the whole Chuya Highway, a dream road. It is one of the most beautiful roads on our planet. There are not enough words to describe this beauty which you will face on your journey. Even those people who have been to Altay numerous times do not stop admiring this road. It is a separate point of your trip to Altay.
From Gorno-Altaysk airport:
You can book a transfer to Kuray village. During the trip (400 km) you will have several stops with fascinating landscapes and lunch. Also unplanned optional stops are possible.
Having arrived to Kuray village you board on ATV (UAZ or GAZ-66, ZIL-131) and there are 30 km of prairie and mountain roads ahead of you to one of the most beautiful places in Gorniy Altay.
Transfer cost from Kuray village to Altay-Aktru:
UAZ (4 seats) – 5,000 roubles one-way.
GAZ-66, ZIL-131 (up to 15 seats) – 12,000 roubles one-way.
Accommodation
Italians in Altay mountains:
Backcountry in the Aktru ravine
Aktru west (4007 m) – Q3242 – Kupol (3556 m) – Radistov (3634 m) – Uchitel (3190 m)
Group: Paolo Vitali & Sonja Brambati, Fedorini Salvadori, Franco Scotti, Renato Pizzagalli, Gianni Corti, Franz Carrara, Ruggero Vaia, Denis e Vigilio Ganz, Bruno Piazzi.
Read report
August 13: Traveling by bicycle around West regions of Mongolia, the idea of a luxurious trip to the Altay mountains crossed my mind and I also set a possible goal for myself. The problem is how to get there.
The Altay mountains are located on Russian and Kazakh territories, but eventually we found the way which would barely allow us to get to the place where habitable houses of Altay-Aktru mountain centre were located (2150 m). In spite of us having no information from other skiers, we still decided to try this new experience.
This is how the long preparation process for our adventure started in 2014. But time flies and it is 6th of April 2014, and we are at a small airport in Gorno-Altaysk (the capital of Altay Republic). We were warmly greeted by Valeriy, Tatiana, and Anastasia. They joined us and helped us get to the camp. Tatiana could speak Italian a bit and became our translator.

We faced dark Siberian landscape which casted gloom over us on our trip to Kuray (400 km). Nevertheless, the road turned out to be good, we were a bit late in order to claim tourist visas and have breakfast, I would say it was more of a bite in one of the villages with wooden houses and sheds which we were passing by. We could not imagine how it was comfortable to live in winter at 40 degrees below zero!

From Kuray we used ZIL-131, which was a big military vehicle, and it seemed to be the only kind of transport which could get over the last 30 km to Aktru camp, up high at 2130 m.
At the beginning of our journey the road was like a Mongolian one which borders Altay and which we were already familiar with. After that, the pine forest starts, the cliffs become steeper and stonier, the snow is everywhere. The car wheels are equipped with chains without which it would be difficult to move because of the impossibly low temperature! It was a miracle we arrived at the place in the darkness, it seemed the driver made thousands of turns, he deserved some applause and deep respect!

Vladimir and Nikolay were already waiting for us, they prepared and heated the houses. They were very friendly and in spite of the language barrier, warm relationships were established between us. We settled in very simple but comfortable rooms which were heated by logs, unpacked our bags, had dinner and finally drowned ourselves in well-deserved sleep after the everlasting day (even with time-zone changes we were travelling for 30 hours).

April 7: At 8.00 we met at breakfast, it was a bit late but we needed a good rest. After breakfast, we quickly looked through the map and decided to visit the Big Aktru glacier. But our goal was the Blue Lake (on the way to the Aktru peak) and probably the second highest peak to our East. Such exploration allowed us to orientate and mull over further routes.
At the beginning of this tour the weather was not very nice but later it became better. By 11 we were already on the Blue Lake and the sky was immaculately clear and of blue-greenish colour. No wind, not a cloud. We could not resist and made it for the Aktru peak.

There were 1200 m left to the peak with getting over the vast glacier but we have all the equipment needed: safety systems, ropes, etc. We could not miss such a beautiful day.

We were lucky: crevasses were closed, everything was smooth, almost ideal. It was not that easy to get to the West side of the Aktru peak. The main peak is a little bit to the east, 37 m higher. It is a very rocky place but with snowy spots which are good for downhill skiing. We were talking with our Russian colleagues via walkie-talkie who were waiting for us in the camp, we could not identify our place because we were not on the peak yet.

It was delightful for us to come down on the crevasse which was lower than us, we passed around a small ridge using quite a steep glacier drift and came out in the needed direction. The last snowy spot towards the camp was a bit disturbing because the temperature was higher than usual for such a season.
Dinner and a hot sauna were waiting for us in the camp, the cold-hot shower from buckets gave us energy.

We didn't have the opportunity to know the forecast, tomorrow morning we would see, so now we were going to bed with no idea what we would do tomorrow.

April 8: The sun is shining. It would not be bad to get to one more glacier but this idea was put away, so I suggested a longer way to a ridge which I noticed on the right side of the valley while we were travelling by ZIL. We skied and then made our way to the ridge. It turned out to be just a grade with smooth increase of 1200 m.
We got up to the peak of 3242 m high, the south and the west ones are a good catch for mountain skiers. You can see Mongolia on the East and it is awesome! Getting down was very successful, the snow was stable except for the last 100 m where we fell through, but it didn't spoil this wonderful day! Let's go back to the camp where hot sauna is waiting for us.

Russian friends came out of the camp to watch us through binoculars while we were skiing. They were a little bit envious. This peak doesn't have a name, on the map it is marked as "Q3242".
April 9: The sun is still shining. Somebody would like to have rest, Rodger is complaining the weather is bad ... but, of course, everybody is happy and ready for a new excursion.

Today's goal is the Dome (3556 m). We could see the Small Aktru glacier from our camp which looked very steep with deep crevasses but I convinced my companions it was not that bad.

We prepare our equipment, everything we need for climbing. And there the climbing begins: we are taking passageways (skiing is impossible there), getting over holes and crevasses, the conditions are not easy but this is the beauty of such trips. A narrow exit from the crevasse leads us to the plane glacier surface, after which we are moving to our left for a long time (passing by an abandoned camp), the peak seems to be near but it is an illusion. The day is wonderful, the blue sky and no wind. And again the landscapes of Mongolia are seen with the Aktru peak in the fog, we are moving towards it.

The food is very tasty, Tatiana and Anastasia are doing their best in spite of limited possibilities of the kitchen (no drinking water, Vladimir brings some from a close stream). After soup we have lamb and vegetables. In order to celebrate our successful trip we take out the wine!
April 10: It is hard to believe, but the weather is still good, the sky is blue. We would like to finally have some rest but we could not miss such a chance ... "Carpe diem", as it is said!

We prepared the equipment for climbing which we are planning according to the Aktru map. The glacier is divided into two parts by rocks of 3000 m high. The first part of the way is easy with comfortable descents on one side of a moraine, after that we need to get up further on the glacier to the north side which disappears in an amphitheatre of steep rocks and crevasses. We'll have to go to the left, towards the south part of the glacier, but here as well we found plenty of crevasses.

The day was coming to an end and I insisted to continue our route on the plane part of the glacier with the hope of finding a suitable passageway and the luck was on our side again! In the middle of the valley we found quite a suitable passage where the snow was solid enough, then with the help of climbing irons we got higher and enjoyed our skiing.

The evening heat of the stove, several toasts, wine was gone as well as brandy, but the celebration is to be continued ...
April 11: Here is a small Siberian storm! Somebody must have performed a ritual dance, eventually we unrolled our warm blankets. Looking through photos, studying maps, playing a couple of card games, of course, attending sauna. A guy from another camp came to visit us, he spends the whole winter all alone ... The day flew in a blink of an eye!
April 12: The forecast is still uncertain, the glaciers are covered with clouds and there are strong winds, but we got some good rest! Today we set a goal - the Uchitel peak (3190 m) which rises above the camp, opposite Q3242. I think we'll be protected from the wind there.

We have been accompanied by a beautiful black wolf, it was with us right to the rocky place and then down. It was the easiest excursion, the weather on the peak is not that nice but we had enough time to ski down.

Out trip is coming to an end but we still have one day for the last excursion where we could re-explore the first part of Aktru and then turn to the north-east towards other peaks or Maasha and Tamma peaks. Unfortunately, the northern side of the Aktru glacier, the side we wanted to visit, at that time was inaccessible, but we were already glad by our finished journeys. We decided to spend one day to go sightseeing in Siberia. Nobody knows whether we will be back to this region once more, that is why we wanted to know more.
April 13: It was not the nice weather when we were leaving. Sergey and Kolya were saying goodbye to us like our close friends, that week was filled with many events and we reached a mutual understanding.

The descent on ZIL-131 didn't seem to be easy again but it could not compete with the ascent. In Kuray, we took a minibus around the village. We tried to imagine what it was like to live there all year around and it was not easy for us.

On our way to Gorno-Altaysk we stopped by the Kalbak-Tash caves, they dated back to new stone age. We had lunch in a motel and arrived at a Manzherok hotel when it was dark.

April 14: The day is devoted to sightseeing, the weather is still gloomy and the forecast for the next day is not better.

In Chemal village, which is located up along the river Katun, we visited the St. John church, the island of Patmos and checked out local houses which are similar to Kazakh ones. After that we went to the hydroelectrostation of Chemal which was built in 1936 and has been abandoned for 20 years. We ended with our short visit to Gorno-Altaysk, but the capital has nothing interesting. At the end of the day we had meat and vodka for dinner.
April 15: A driver who should have got us to the airport by 5 o'clock was late and we managed to check-in at the last moment. With visas expired and with perspectives of leaving the country in 2 days, our wonderful vacations could have been rather spoiled, but everything shaped up well.

The journey which we did is not a funny entertaining walk but a full immersion into an absolutely new atmosphere with maximum adaptation and it creates something special, for instance, understanding being on a glacier with no civilization for 1000 km around is unforgettable. Memories of skiing, evenings spent with our Russian friends will always be with us.
Video of backcountry tour in the Aktru crevasse
Original report version (in Italian)
Authors: Paolo Vitali & Sonja Brambati
Gorniy Altay is diverse, even those who have already been there several times can discover something new. This is a place where you want to go back again and again.
Gorniy Altay is geographically located in Northern Asia, in Siberia, and borders such countries as China, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan. This is one of the cleanest regions in Russia, there are not any industrial enterprises or railways.
The nature of Gorniy Altay is not just diverse, it is extraordinary contrasting: taiga forests are replaced by dry prairies, low hills and mountains are replaced by snowy peaks, rivers and lakes change their colour depending on the season.
Teletskoye Lake
The biggest lake in Altay and one of the biggest lakes in Russia. Maximum deep is about 330 m. It allowed the lake to take 25th place among the deepest lakes in the world! The name of the lake derives from an Altay tribe - Teleuts. This lake is frequently called the youngest brother of Lake Baikal.
Stone mushrooms
Stone mushrooms which "grow" in the mountain area of Akkurum reach 7-8 m high. The mushrooms stand for dozens or even hundreds of years, but with the time part of them goes to ruin and disappears. But new generation of this stunning nature creations appear.
Plato Ukok
Plato Ukok in Gorniy Altay has been surrounded by mysticism and sacredness. According to the local beliefs, Ukok lands precede the entrance to Heavens. From ancient times these places were considered to be holy - local tribes saw off the dead, performed rituals and rites, created totems and gigantic sacred pictures.
Natalya
Administrator
E-mail: aktru5@mail.ru
Phone: +7 (996) 962 5784
Natalya
Administrator
E-mail: aktru5@mail.ru
Phone: +7 (996) 962 5784
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