|Difficulty in August:||5 (5+)|
|From:||Aba Confluence - Alt. 1400 m (4590 ft)|
|To:||Teletskoye Lake - Alt. 440 m (1450 ft)|
|Distance:||40 km (25 miles)|
|River Days:||3-5 (plus 1-2 days trekking in)|
|Average Gradient:||25 m/km (125 ft/mile)|
|Est. Max Gradient:||60-70 m/km (300-350 ft/mile)|
|Typical Flow in August:||10-20 cms (350-700 cfs)|
The Greater Chili is (besides the Chulyshman) the biggest side stream of Teletskoye Lake. Unlike the Chulysman which has a well-developed lower valley, the Chili makes hard way cutting through the mountainous lakeside and creating one of the hardest whitewater in the Altai.
The river starts on the plateau west to the lake, not far from lower Chulyshman valley and for the first 20-30 km it just collects water from many small streams. After last significant tributary, Aba, comes in from the right, the Chili flows to the north, parallel to the lake and the Chulyshman. All this section is quite easy and boring.
After the valley swings to the east, the Chili enters a narrow 15 km long gorge that cuts the lakeside mountains. This stretch drops nearly 700 m, and is almost continuous class 5 with some terrific portages. The river eases only within a kilometer before the lake.
Access & Logistics
The way to the put-in requires trekking from lower Chulyshman valley, which in turn can be accessed by the Ulagan – Teletskoye Lake road (see Bashkaus and Chulyshman descriptions for details).
The trek starts along a good but steep trail (used by locals to bring their herds to the summer pastures on the plateau), about one kilometer below Balykcha, the major village on the lower Chulyshman. It should be generally possible to arrange horses here if you’re not keen to be a horse yourself.
The trail winds up the left side of the Chulyshman valley (along the small stream called Achelman), gaining some 800-900 m of altitude before it flattens out on the plateau. The trail then gradually ascents another 600-700 m and crosses a pass leading to the Aba valley, the tributary of the Chili. The trail along the Aba is rarely used and is much worse than the Achelman trail.
The put-in is right at the confluence of the Aba and Chili (do not try to paddle Aba, it has mainly rocks and trees rather than water in the riverbed). Overall trek distance is about 25-30 km (15-18 miles) and can be done by a well fit group in 1.5 - 2 days (or perhaps in one day with horses).
Take-out is at the entrance into Teletskoye Lake, where there is a hunting / fishing camp and you will be almost unavoidable welcomed with Russian sauna, food and vodka. There is no problem to find a motor ship here to go to either end of the lake.
Remember that the whole trip is completely self-supported, there are no roads or settlements between Balykcha and the lake and there are no people inside the lakeside gorge (where you are supposed to spend most of the time).
Emergency escape from the gorge is only possible over the mountains on the right side (back to Balykcha). There is no passable path through the gorge, but if you are within 5-6 km from the lake, it perhaps worth to hike along the river. There is a trail along the left bank going from the lake 2-3 km up the gorge, but otherwise both sides of the river have so many cliffs that frequent crossings are nearly unavoidable.
The Chili valley is a bear-prone area, so create as much noise as possible when scouting and portaging and do not leave unwashed dishes and scattered food in the camp for the night.