The Chimgan Mountains

Western Tien Shan Mountains, Uzbekistan

Chimgan

Chimgan (Chatkal Range, Western Tien Shan) is a most beautiful recreation area ski resort situated in Bostanlyk District, Tashkent Province, situated just 85 km from Tashkent (1.5 hours by car), at an altitude of 1,600 m above sea level. The Chimgan Valley is a narrow stretch 15 km long surrounded by mountains on all sides, its elevations ranging from 1,200 m to 1,600 m above sea level. The highest point of the area is Greater Chimgan Peak (3,309 m), which can often be seen with a naked eye from Tashkent streets. Next to Big Chimgan there is Little Chimgan Peak (2,097 m).

The Chimgan Mountains are a place of pilgrimage for all who like outdoor activities and active recreation in the mountains, alpine skiing and travelling in the mountains of Uzbekistan. The area is frequented by mountaineers, rock climbers, skiers, snowboarders, hikers, hang gliders and paraglider riders, as well as photographers, singer-songwriters and other creative persons.

The Big Chimgan area features a large number of mountaineering and trekking routes to satisfy any taste and skill level, while the pistes (green, blue, red and black) of the ski resort are equipped with a chairlift and a T-bar lift. The mountain slopes in the neighbourhood are very good for free riding and backcountry skiing.

The Chimgan recreation complex includes hotels, resorts, sanatoria, children camps, shops, restaurants and cafes, rental agencies for skiing equipment and a bus station. There you can also ride a horse, all-terrain vehicle, paraglider or hang glider.

Most of the skiing slopes in the area face northward, which ensures stable snow cover and a long skiing season, from December till April, while the large number of sunny days in winter makes skiing in the Chimgan Mountains particularly enjoyable. In some years snow patches in the central couloir of Big Chimgan remain till mid-summer.

You can take your children to Chimgan, as the place is beautiful and warm, the altitudes are not too high and you can reach the area by many types of transport. The place is a perfect one for acquainting children with mountains.

The cleanest Charvak Reservoir, a wonderful place for summer beach vacations, is just 30 km from Chimgan.

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Beldersay

The Beldersay Valley (one of the spurs of the Western Tien Shan) is situated 5 km from Chimgan and 80 km from Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan. The place features a popular ski resort bearing the same name, Beldersay, which, unlike the one in Chimgan, is rather compact and more suitable for experienced skiers and sportsmen. The pistes there are longer and more difficult, while the snowy season continues from November till April.

Equipped with two ropeways - a two-person chairlift (2.5 km long, lifting time - 24 min, differential - 565 m) and a T-bar lift (about 1 km long, lifting time - 5 min, differential - 200 m), Beldersay is considered an international alpine skiing centre. The Kumbel ski piste, which runs down the slope of the Kumbel Mountain (2,300 m), ranks among the best downhill trails in the post-Soviet area, meeting all the standards of the International Ski Federation (FIS). The length of the piste is 3,017 m (the longest alpine skiing piste in Uzbekistan), differential - 765 m, average gradient - 26° (max - 52°), elevation of the top of the piste - 2,350 m. Also, the two buttresses of Kumbel Peak can be used for backcountry skiing. The total length of the portions suitable for off-piste skiing is about 2 km.

Beldersay is famous primarily for its ‘cold slopes’ and Tien Shan snow phenomenon, which consists in snow not melting even when air temperature rises to +15-18°C! It means that even in spring, when Tashkent is wildly blossoming and the first strawberries appear at its bazaars, the snow in Beldersay is still dry and hard. And thanks to the great number of sunny days (over 300 during one year) your active recreation in Beldersay will be filled with good spirits, amazing photographs and curative sunbaths!

Beldersay provides various ways of accommodation for tourists: in the hotel complex Beldersoy Oromgohi, in cottages near the complex, in a small house on the top of the Kumbel Mountain or in cottages for 4 and 6 persons at the sports centre Beldersay. Beldersay features two café bars, one of which is situated right at the bottom of the T-bar lift, which allows skiers to have a snack without actually leaving the skiing area.

The juniper and apple forests, briar and barberry thickets, rapid mountain streams and waterfalls - all this makes the Beldersay Valley amazing, while the great variety of slopes and pistes will encourage the most skillful skiers and snowboarders!

Beldersay rises at Big Chimgan Peak. In the middle part of the valley there is a big flat space, where one can often see hikers’ tents. The space is crossed by a route going from the Urtakumbel Pass (1,850 m) to the Chetkumbel Pass (1,880 m) and further to the Kumbel Pass (2,550 m). This region features a large number of juniper trees, which sometimes spread over vast areas.

From the large flat space one can go up onto the Urtakumbel Pass and down to the Marble River. This picturesque river is a favourite place for people staying at the nearby rest houses, sanatoria and children’s camps. In the lower course of the river there are a lot petrified shells, which are local attractions and which indicate that the area was once the bottom of an ocean. A little downstream the river falls from a height of 15-20 m forming a beautiful waterfall.

In the upper part of the Beldersay Gorge there is a gallery of ancient rock paintings (petroglyphs). A stone of a man’s height, scenes of hunting after wild goats and images of domesticated animals are the most interesting objects.

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The Gulkam Gorge

The Gulkam Gorge is a highly picturesque place in the Chimgan Mountains with tall sheer walls, deep rocky canyons, stepped waterfalls, rapids, bowls, numerous rapid little streams and birch groves on their banks, and juniper groves and tall grass on the slopes of the mountains.

The Western Tien Shan Mountains are highly rugged, which is seen well in the Gulkam Gorge: rocky walls a hundred metres high, like a gigantic vice, squeezed the river, making it drop in numerous waterfalls into the stone bowls forming its bed. Though looking rather terrifying, the gorge is nevertheless quite passable, of course, with the help of a rope and an experienced guide.

The Gulkam Gorge is accessible through the Sandy Pass (1,832 m), the distance from the pass to the gorge being about 3 km. The Gulkamsay River is visible perfectly from the pass, its banks covered all over with birch trees. The place where the Kichkinekoksay merges with the Gulkamsay (1,500 m) is ideal for a picnic. The Gulkamsay River is formed of a number of little streams to flow further into a larger stream, the Mazarsay, which empties into the Charvak Reservoir near the Chatkal River mouth. Using ropes and the assistance of an experienced guide we can go through the Gulkam Gorge and reach the village of Yangikurgan.

 

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