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Ak-Shiyrak massif.

Automobile travel on plateau Ak-Shiyrak.

“As soon as man seeks to penetrate the secrets of nature - in which nothing is secret and it is but a question of seeing - he realizes that the simple produces the supernatural” 

Honore de Balzac.

Tours on plateau Ak-Shiyrak in mountains Central - Tien Shan.

Translated from Kyrgyz, the meaning of the word "shyyrak" is a shin. Ak-Shiyrak (Ak-Shyyrak in Kyrgyz) is a phrase used, as a rule, with reference to a sheep and meaning “white-footed”. Near the watershed of the Sary-Jaz and Naryn river basins in the Dzhety-Oguz district of the Issyk-Kul region, the second largest glaciation site of the Central Tien-Shan - the Ak-Shiyrak ridge - is located.
Ak-Shiyrak, an alpine massif in the Central Tien Shan, it is located south of the middle part of the Terskey Ala-Too ridge, in approximate borders between the regions of the Dzhety-Oguz gorges in the east and Juuk in the west (this is east of the Barskoon pass).
It is a watershed between the headwaters of the Naryn River and the rivers of the Sary-Jaz basin (Uch-Kel and others). The length from southwest to northeast is more than 100 kilometers and a width of about 35 kilometers.
Altitude up to 5126 meters above sea level - Chomoi peak. The snow line is located at an altitude of 4100 meters above sea level - the western slope, 4500 meters above sea level - the southern slope, where the influence of moist air masses brought from the Issyk-Kul Basin through the Terskey Ala-Too passes is more noticeable, and rises to 4500 - 4550 meters above sea level in the east of Ak-Shiyrak.
Subnival and glacial-nival landscapes prevail. The valleys of the Kara-Sai, Kaindy and Jaman-Su rivers are divided into the Northern, Central and Southern ranges, connected by bridges. Last, continues spur. Differences in altitude from 3000 to 4700 meters above sea level, there are 6 passes above 4800 meters above sea level.
The interior of the massif has a typical alpine appearance with narrow rocky ridges separating the vast firn fields of valley glaciers, often connected to each other through gentle passes. Ak-Shiyrak is one of the largest centers of modern glaciation in the Central Tien-Shan, there are over 150 glaciers with a total area of ​​over 430 square kilometers.
Ak-Shiyrak is one of the most compact glaciation sites in the Central Tien Shan, about 46% of its area is covered by glaciers. The largest glacier of Petrov, giving rise to the Naryn River. Between the northern and middle ridges lies a deep longitudinal valley, in the western part of which there is the Petrov Glacier (its length is 14 kilometers, the largest is the third glacier of the Kyrgyz Tien-Shan.
In the eastern part are glaciers of the Jaman-Su river basin. The length of the Jaman-Su glacier is more than 10 kilometers. Glaciers lie between the middle and southern ridges: from the western part of Kara-Sai Severny (more than 10 kilometers long), and from the eastern - Kaindy (more than 8 kilometers long).
The ends of the glaciers lie at heights of 3700 - 4100 meters above sea level, depending on the exposure of the slopes. The relief of the interior of the Akshirak massif has a typical alpine appearance - narrow rocky watersheds, steep walls, sharp peaks and ridges.
Due to the steepness of the slopes, the latter are often deprived of ice and firn, even if they rise above the snow line. Many valley glaciers have an alpine “appearance”. The main ridges of the Ak-Shiyrak massif are latitudinally extended (from west-south-west to east-southeast).
In Ak-Shiyrak there are 4 more peaks above 5,000 meters above sea level. Ak-Shiyrak is separated from Terskey Ala-Too by syrts - high-mountainous sometimes slightly swampy plains, located at an altitude of mainly 3700 - 3900 meters above sea level, i.e. the massif rises above the syrtes for 1000 - 1200 meters.
Over 60 passes are known. The easiest ways to cross the ridge: Petrov passes 4370 meters above sea level, Koyandy (Könduu), 4300 meters above sea level. The watershed of the two great rivers of Central Asia - Tarim (the drainless basin in China, in the Takla-Makan desert) and the Syr Darya (in the upper reaches of the Naryn, which flows into the Aral Sea) passes through these syrts and along Ak-Shiyrak itself.
The rivers flowing from Ak-Shiyrak to the east - flow into the basin of Saryjaz and Tarim, the western rivers belong to the basin of Naryn and Syr Darya.
Also, Ak-Shiyrak syrts are separated from the Jetim-Bel massif (altitude up to 4627 meters above sea level), located to the west of it and from the Borkolda ridge (altitude up to 5170 meters above sea level), located south of Ak-Shiyrak.
To the east of Ak-Shiyrak there is another mountain range comparable in size and height to Ak-Shiyrak - this is Kuylyu (or Köyoluu, the highest point is the peak of the Constitution 5281 meters above sea level, previously this peak was called the peak of the Soviet Constitution, and before that - Stalin Constitution).
The Kuilyu and Ak-Shiyrak massifs are separated by the Sarychat River (in the lower reaches - the Irtash or Uch-Kel), the right tributary of the Saryjaz. The eastern outskirts of Ak-Shiyrak fall more steeply into the gorges of the rivers of the Saryjaz basin, glaciers here have the opportunity to descend lower than in the western part of the massif (the tongue of the Jaman-Su glacier ends at an altitude of 3545 meters above sea level).
The climate of the Ak-Shiyrak massif is sharply continental, dry and extremely harsh - in October, on frozen syrts, it reaches –20C, and in winter the temperature can drop to –50C. The annual amount of precipitation is 700 mm, the greatest amount of precipitation falls in spring and early summer, the least - zamo.
The average temperature in winter is -16 ° C, in spring and autumn - -7 ° C, in June - + 2 ° C, in July and August - + 4 ° C and in September - + 0.5 ° C. Here on syrty at an altitude of 3700 m is located the Tien-Shan weather station.
Closer to the lake, located below the end of the Petrov Glacier, is the Kyrgyz-Canadian Kumtor Gold Mining Plant. The area around this mine is carefully guarded. After the collapse of the USSR, China received a rather large chunk of territory from Kyrgyzstan - a region adjacent to the Chon-Uzengi-Kuush (Chon-Uzengigush) river breakthrough through the Kokshaal-Too ridge and further east to the Bedel pass.

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Authority:
Book "Soviet Encyclopedia". Climbing regions of Kyrgyzstan, guide, author Vladimir Komissarov. Bishkek, 2010.

Photos
Alexander Petrov.