After TEM-TEK river we slowly moved towards Russia to earlier mentioned Altay Mountains area. The transport took us whole two days driving on really bad roads. But we devided the journey and paddled KALZIR river on our way. We finally tried our kayak-carying system which we were going to use in Altay. Luckily everything went smooth and soon we arrived to a small town called Ridder in the middle of big Altay Mountains. As usually our first steps here led to the local office to arrange permits to the border area.
We got them without problems so we could take the kayaks on our backs and start hiking to GRAMATUCHA river. It took us 4 days to paddle it. First day we hiked up from 1100 m a.s.l. to 2300 m a.s.l. with kayaks and some gear. On the top we found out that there was still 5 meters of snow, so it was extremely difficult to walk up. After 6 hours of walking our kayaks were finally on the top and we could go back down for the rest of our gear.
Second day we carried the rest of our gear up as well. On the top we took our kayaks and all the gear and started walking down to the put in. The snow was a plus now. We did slide in the kayaks on the snow and after some hours of walking and snow kayaking we finally reached the put in of GRAMATUCHA river. Here we set up a camp and took a rest till the next morning. Early in the morning we decided to run the river in one day instead of two.
We put on our frozen gear immediately and headed towards the first rapids. At noon I was already totally frozen and exhausted from cold. I couldn´t feel my hands at all and we still had couple of hours left to the take out. In the evening I felt like an ice cube but we finally reached the take out. Conditions were really tough, but I knew that I´d have to do it again on our last river – TURGUSUN.
It was morning before another terrible hike with a kayak on my back – to the TURGUSUN river. We were packed for next adventure and again waiting for permits to the border area. But we weren´t lucky this time and didn´t get the permits. And that was the end of our incredible trip.
After 3 weeks full of unbelievable adventures we had no time to try getting the permits again so we decided to go home. 27-hour-transfer to ALMATY took us the rest of our energy and we were going to the plane really tired, but with unbelievable feeling that we´ve run one of the best white water rivers in Kazakhstan. And because we missed the last river I know I have to come back again.
Story and Photos by Tomo Andrassy