Polar Ural - download topographic map set
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Updated inJanuary 2015 (added 7 maps)
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The Polar Urals is the utmost northern part of the Ural Mountains, which is separated from the SubPolar Urals by the Khulga River. The area of the Polar Urals is about 25,000 sq km. This area is underpopulated and major cities and towns mostly lie along the Northern Railroad, between the town of Inta and the former station Khalmer-Yu, as well as along its branch road, between the Seida Station and the Labytnangi Station. The largest towns of the Polar Urals include: Yeletski, Khorota, Polyarny, Ural, Sob and Kharp.
Relief. What is peculiar about the relief of the northern part of the Polar Urals is insignificant mountain pass heights. Their absolute height over the main watershed that separates Europe from Asia is not greater than 300 m above the sea level. Particularly low mountain passes with slightly sloping uphills are found between the head of the Izya-Shor (the right tributary of the Usa) and Lake Maloye Khadata-Yugan-Lor, between the upper Malaya Kara and Lake Maloye Shchuchye, between the upper Bolshaya Kara and Lake Bolshoye Shchuchye and between the head of the Malaya Usa (Lake Usvaty) and the upper Malaya Shchuchya. However, ridges near mountain passes reach 1,000 m in height. The highest peaks of the Polar Urals are: Konstantinov Kamen, 483 m; Khanmei, 1,333 m; and Paier, 1,472 m.
Rivers. There are a large number of rivers and streams in the Polar Urals, which take their water masses to the Pechora River (the upper reach of the Usa River) in the west, the Baidaratskaya Bay (the Kara River) in the north and the Ob River (the Synya, the Voikar, the Sob, the Langotyugan and the Shchuchya) in the east. Many rivers flow out of lakes (Bolshoye Shchuchye and Maloye Shchuchye, Usvaty, Ochety, Tiz-Nezato, Bolshoye Khadata-Yugan-Lor); the lakes control the water outflow in the upper reaches of these rivers, which makes it possible to navigate by boat or by raft all the way from the head to the mouth of the river. The rivers that have their origins in the swamps, small lakes and glaciers (the Malaya Kara, the Langotyugan, the Synya and the Lemva), are shallow in their upper reach and it is impossible to sail to their heads, even by canoe.
Lakes. The Polar Urals are rich in lakes. There are 3,327 lakes covering a total area of 98 sq km in the mountainous area. Even more lakes are found in the plains near the mountains. There are 1,968 lakes in the western slopes and 1,259 lakes in the eastern slopes of the Urals. The most important lakes are Bolshoye Shchuchye and Maloye Shchuchye, Bolshoye Khadata-Yugan-Lor and Maloye Khadata-Yugan-Lor, Kuzty, Usvaty and Tiz-Nezato, which have good places for camping and firewood.
Glaciers. All in all, there are 90 glaciers with a total surface area of over 20 sq km in the Polar Urals. There is a large concentration of glaciers in the area of the Khadata and Shchuchye lake chains and in the Ochenyrd range. The biggest glacier is IGAN (the Institute of Geography of the USSR Science Academy). It is situated in the Izya-Khoi ridge on the eastern slope of the peak Khar-Naurdy-Keu. The maximum length of the glacier is 1,800 m, its maximum width is 1,500 m and the total area is 1.25 sq km. The longest (2.2 km) and the second largest glacier in the Urals is MGU. The third largest glacier, Dolgushin (0.92 sq km), lies on the south-eastern slope of the Ochenyrd ridge. It is located in the upper part of a steep-walled trough valley and is justly considered one of the most picturesque glaciers - it has rocks on all sides overhanging it at 200-500 m.
Flora and Fauna. The vegetation of the Polar Urals is very poor. Taiga forests are found only in the southern part, where there are spruce-trees and larch-trees (Zauralye) or fir-trees and birches (Preduralye). Deadwood is found in the valleys of the Synya, the Voikar rivers and their tributaries. Thin birch forests and deciduous woods can be found in the northern part of the area, on the eastern slopes, along the river valleys. The banks of the rivers on the western slope, such as the Usa, the Kara and their tributaries, are overgrown mostly with willow bushes, Polar birch-trees, grasses and flowers.
Tourism. The Polar Urals is one of the most difficult Ural areas to travel around. However this area, like no other place in the world, offers unique opportunities for water, hiking and skiing tours.
The northern part of this region is best for skiing tourism, despite its more severe weather conditions. It has steep and more flat-lying mountain passes and there is thick layer of snow everywhere. Another advantage of the northern part is that there is an abandoned tourist base with some habitable houses on the shore of Lake Bolshoye Khadata-Yugan-Lor. However this area has a clear disadvantage - you have to take gas with you as there is practically no firewood there.
Climate. The climate in the Polar Urals, particularly in its northern part, is very severe. On frosty days from December to February, the temperature sometimes drops to -54°C in the piedmont plains. High in the mountains, the frosts are weaker and sometimes reach -45°C. In the mountainous area, warm sunny days begin in July, 2 weeks later than in the piedmont plains. The sun stays above the horizon day and night in summer. In late July, there is full blossom everywhere. In mid July, there are still some white patches of snow here and there, while in late August to early September, mountain tops are already covered with snow.