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East Sayan Mountains

East Sayan (north and east regions of Sayan upland) is one of the most marvelous areas represented on topographic map of the South Siberia. The territory of Sayan (about 250.000 is considered to be almost impassable and thinly populated area in Siberia. The highest peaks of East Sayan is mountain Munku-Sardyk (3491), alpine tops of Tunkinskie (3266m) and Kitoiskie (3215m) Goltsy – are situated here. Tunkin Valley is also situated in the mountain system of East Sayan. It’s a unique area where different mineral springs such as Hongor-Uula, Khalun-Ugun come to the surface. These springs can also be found in such settlements as Arshan, Nilovka, Zhemchug. But the most marvelous and rare place is Shumanskie mineral springs, that are situated on the height of 1600m.

Tunkinskie Alps

Tunkinskie Alps is a majestic range. From east it closes the huge mountain mass of East Sayan with alpine relief which rises like an arrow above a vast steppe of Tunkin Valley. Looking on the topographic maps of Tunkinskie Alps we can see that it stretches from north-east to south-west and their north extremity lies about 60 km from Lake Baikal. The west extremity is near Lake Khubsugul in Mongolia. The length of the range is about 200 km. Its average width is 30-50 km. The range forms the watershed of the Kitoi and the Irkut.

Alpine relief is represented in Tunkinskie Alps by peaks and steep ridges, slopes, rocks, cliffs, narrow and deep river depressions with large number of canyons and waterfalls. The mountains have different shapes of icy relief. There are no glaciers here. The mountains are assembled of crystalline shale, limestone, granite gneiss and basalt. The average height of the peaks of Tunkinskie Alps is 2500-3200m. The highest point (3260m) is situated in the upper reaches of the river Palga-Khairon. And the highest part of the range is in the upper reaches of the rivers Biluta and Shumak. Here the average height of the peaks is over 3000m. The west and east extremities of the range are lower, about 2300-2800 m height. Among well-known mountain passes there are Shumak (1A, 2760m) and Arshansky (1A, 1954m).

Relief of East Sayan

The contemporary relief of East Sayan is quite young; it was formed during tectonic rising and erosive division in quaternary. Tunkinskie Alps together with Tunkinskaya hollow is a part of Baikal groove. Another peculiarity is distribution of main types of relief in shape of geomorphologic zones and layers:

  • alpine high-mountainous (above 2500m)
  • middle-mountainous (from 800 to 2000-2200m)
  • low-mountainous (from 300 to 800m)
  • intermountain hollows (from 400 to 1200m)

Tunkinskie Goltsy (a mountainous range of East Sayan on the west of Buryatiya) stretches on the topographic maps of East Sayan in latitudinal direction towards the Kitoi and the Irkuta. The length of the range is about 180 km, the height 3266m. The range is mainly assembled of crystalline shale and granite. The larger part of the range is spitted into middle-mountains. Before the ridge of the range there is an alpine relief.

Climate of Tunkinskie Goltsy

The climate of Tunkinskie Goltsy is continental, in mountains there is a vertical climatic zone. When it’s cold there is an Asian anticyclone with its centre in Mongolia. And when it’s warm the cyclone moves from west to east and carries heavy precipitations. That’s why in eastern part there are fewer precipitations.

Rivers and lakes

A large number of rivers, that run into the Irkuta and the Kitoi, rise within the range. Almost all of them are formed from rains. In summer there form high floods and in winter they freeze up.

It can be seen on topographic map of East Sayan that the main river of this area is the Kitoi (about 316km). Water consumption in the mouth of the river is 100m3/s (over 2000m3/s during flood), the speed of the stream is 12-15 km/h; the average incline is 5 m/km, the bottom is stony or with pebble. The river has some natural barriers to V degree of complexity. The water consumption of the tributaries of the Kitoi (the Ara-Oshey) is about 10 m3/s and the depth of fords is 0.5-0.8m, the bottom is stony. The lakes of the area can be divided into floodplain (it’s the left part of Tunkin Valley) and mountainous watershed lakes of icy origin.

Tunkinskie Goltsy is very popular with tourists that come here to admire untouched nature. Usually they hike or raft in summer and ski in winter.

Sayany map set is available for purchasing.