Almaty Hike V: Tuyuksu Glacier and T1 Glaciological Station

August 2019

Tuyuksu is a glacier that supplies Almaty with the drinking water. Small Almaty River actually starts here. You can hike to the glacier relatively easily in 3 to 4 hours.

Hike Duration: 6-8 hours for the roundtrip.
Distance: ~23.7 km.
Difficulty: medium-hard.
Directions: Strava map, gorny-club.kz.

The road starts from the Shymbulak ski resort, that is already at the elevation of ~2200m.

We go higher.

On the way, there is the Memorial for Perished in the Mountains with dozens of names. It's a truly humbling place. Be careful.

Soon, the road becomes wider and more open.

You can see the Small Almaty River and peculiar rock formations.

After 4-5 kilometers, a huge snow-capped Tuyuksu mountain appears in the background.

Shortly, we reach a dam and Mynzhylky meteorological station. Elevation is 3100m.

The valley behind the dam is a good place for resting and camping. After some rest, we continue going up on an even more steeper road.

The valley from above.

As we continue to gain elevation, more snow-capped peaks and some glaciers appear.

What grows at 3200m+ elevation?

Here, the road sometimes seems to lead nowhere.

On the right side, we can see a mighty Molodezhniy peak. We will go this road later to visit T1 station.

Local five star hotel. It was closed :-)

Finally, we can get a glimpse of the glacier on the right side.

Just need to cross a small stream, and we have arrived.

Tuyuksu glacier, elevation about 3600m. Isn't it a bit like the wall from the Game of Thrones?

Multiple streams come down from the melting ice of the glacier. They eventually merge into a stream and form the source of the Small Almaty River below.

Glacier ice.

Scientists dig in wooden poles to monitor the thickness and length of the glacier.

Unfortunately, Tuyuksu glacier is losing ice every year, and is getting shorter and shorter. In the last six decades, it has lost more than 800 meters in length. Read this amazing New York Times article on the shrinking of Tuyuksu glacier, and the effect it has on the environment.

T1 Glaciological Station

T1 Glaciological Station was built in the 1950s to study Tuyuksu and other glaciers nearby. When it was built, it was almost at the tongue of the glacier, but now the glacier and the station are more than a kilometer apart.

From away, the station looks like a small village somewhere in the Alps.

The station was built during the Soviet times, and not much seems to have changed since then.

Most buildings look old, empty, and uninhabitable.

Generally, the station seems to be in a pretty bad condition.

The only building with somebody inside was this one. A sign says "Glaciological scientific-research station of the Institute of geography of the ministry of education and science of the Republic of Kazakhstan".

Unfortunately, the station is not visitor friendly. Inside, I was asked to leave and not take any photos. If it was up to me, I would put some visitor information and a small museum here, and sell tickets and souvenirs :-)

Local art.

Finally, it is time to go home.