|Difficulty in August:||5|
|From:||Saratan - Alt. 1400 m (4600 ft)|
|To:||Teletskoye Lake - Alt. 440 m (1450 ft)|
|Distance:||160 km (100 miles)|
|Average Gradient:||6 m/km (30 ft/mile)|
|Est. Max Gradient:||20-25 m/km (100-125 ft/mile)|
|Typical Flow in August:||50-70 cms (1700-2400 cfs)|
The Bashkaus is no doubt the most famous river of the Altai, not only because of the whitewater, but also for its scenery and wilderness.
The river sources from vast and rather flat damp plateau near Mongolian border and for the first 100 or so km it flows in a wide open valley. There are few small canyons and easy rapids, but otherwise the river is mostly flat and is probably not worth paddling.
Below the village of Saratan the river enters a scenic canyon with beautiful rock walls and a couple of more difficult rapids. The river then flattens again while passing a large village of Ulagan, a district headquarter.
Below Ulagan the river continues as easy class 1-2 while gradually entering what is commonly known as the Lower Gorge of the Bashkaus. This 40-km long, 1-km deep crack in the mountains surrounding Teletskoye Lake is what actually makes this river a jewel of the Altai. The gorge is completely uninhabited for its whole length and is full of class 4 and 5 rapids in some incredibly impressive surroundings.
Access & Logistics
The district headquarter, Ulagan (sometimes called Ust-Ulagan), is located exactly in the middle stretch of the Bashkaus and is connected by a quite good road to the Aktash village on the Chuya Road, the principal route connecting Siberia and Mongolia. Due to their proximity to the major УhighwayФ both Aktash and Ulagan have a number of shops where most basic supplies can be purchased.
Beyond Ulagan there are three further roads. First one goes up the valley to the village of Saratan and then perhaps some more 15-20 km higher up. Another road goes down the valley to the village of Karakudur and also continues 15-20 more km to local pastures. Third road goes over the pass to lower Chulyshman River, Bashkaus confluence and southern end of Teletskoye Lake.
Put-in is possible a few kilometers below Saratan (if you want to run the canyon above Ulagan), or, otherwise a few kilometers below Ulagan or Karakudur (if you intend to go straight into the Lower Gorge).
If you have a car arranged to pick you up, the best take-out is at the road bridge one kilometer before the Chulyshman confluence, from where you can drive back to Ulagan (donТt rely on local traffic, it hardly exists on that road). Otherwise continue further down and take out at the southern shore of Teletskoye Lake (in the mouth of the Chulyshman). There are a few leisure camps and thereТs no problem to hire a motor ship across the lake to the road head at its northern end (thereТs no road along the lake).
Remember that from Ulagan to Chulyshman confluence there are no roads nor even people or trails in the gorge, and you must be entirely self-supported. In right conditions this section can be run in just 3 days, but reckon on at least 5 days if things go wrong.
Emergency escape from the gorge is only possible over the mountains on the right side (to the road in lower Chulyshman valley) and takes 2-3 days if you do not carry boats and nobody is injured. There are pastures and quite a good trail network up there, and you may even meet local shepherds or hunters on the plateau. Note that climbing out of the gorge in some places can be very difficult, if not impossible at all.
Trekking over the mountains on the left side (to lower Katun valley) is very long and arduous and would take at least 5-7 days. DonТt even think to hike along the river; there is no passable path through the gorge.