|Difficulty in August:||4+ (5)|
|From:||Yazula (Karakem Bridge) - Alt. 1500 m (4920 ft)|
|To:||Teletskoye Lake - Alt. 440 m (1450 ft)|
|Distance:||170 km (105 miles)|
|Average Gradient:||6 m/km (30 ft/mile)|
|Est. Max Gradient:||15-20 m/km (75-100 ft/mile)|
|Typical Flow in August:||Upstream 30-40 cms (1000-1400 cfs)|
|Downstream 60-80 cms (2000-2800 cfs)|
The Chulyshman is definitely one of the best rivers of the Altai, with excellent whitewater and little self-support.
The river sources from Djulukul Lake on vast and rather flat damp plateau near Mongolian border. For the first 70-80 km it flows in a wide open valley, frequently dropping with steep but very shallow rapids. It is possible to drive from the Chuya Road to a small left tributary (the Bogoyash) near the source of the Chulyshman and have a remarkable descent through wild and magnificent steppe scenery, but in low water it will involve tremendous 3-day self-support run full of lengthy portages.
Some 15 km above the village of Yazula the river enters its most famous gorge, full of class 4 to 5 rapids, and it is the recommended starting point if you generally seek the whitewater. There is a good trail and even road to Yazula on the right bank terrace some 150-200 m above the river.
The gorge ends at the road bridge connecting Yazula to Saratan village on the Bashkaus, and it is possible to take out here if you consider middle and lower river not of much interest. After the bridge the Chulyshman is flat and easy for 10-12 km and then gradually enters its middle 15-km class 4 gorge lasting till Shavla confluence (note, it is NOT the Argut’s Shavla described separately, it’s just another stream of the same name).
The next 20-25 km is again mostly flat with just occasional class 3 rapids. The Chodro village is just a couple of hunter’s huts not even seen from the shore. Some 10 km before the road from Ulagan comes to the river (marked as Katu-Yaryk, but again, there’s no village there) a long and difficult powerful rapid (The Mess) needs serious attention.
From here down to Teletskoye Lake there are only occasional class 3-4 rapids and exhaustingly long flat sections, so it may be wise to take out as soon as the road comes to the river.
Access & Logistics
The small village of Yazula is located at the bottom of the most interesting river section (the Yazula Gorge) and is connected by a 4x4 passable road to Saratan on the Bashkaus (and then to Ulagan and Aktash, see Bashkaus description for details). Both Saratan and Yazula do not have much food to offer and should not be reckoned upon.
The rough track goes from Yazula up the river for some 4-7 km and allows driving to near the Karakem confluence from the left. There is no road from Yazula down the river and the village itself is far and not seen from the shore.
Another road comes to the lower river from Ulagan on the Bashkaus and then continues all the way down to Teletskoye Lake. There is a small village of Ko some distance below Chulcha confluence, but just as Yazula and Saratan it does not have much supply.
Put-in is possible near the horse bridge at the Karakem confluence, midway down the Yazula Gorge (or midway up if you like). You can also hike a few kilometers higher up if you wish, but there are no substantial rapids there.
If you do not consider the middle and lower river at all, take-out is possible at the road bridge just below the Yazula Gorge. Other options for the take-out are at Katu-Yaryk, where road from Ulagan comes to the lower river, and then basically at any place as the road goes along the left bank. From here you can drive back to Ulagan, but you better have a vehicle arranged for pick-up, there are almost no local cars on that road. Otherwise continue further down and take out at the entrance into Teletskoye Lake. There are a few leisure camps and there’s no problem to hire a motor ship across the lake to the road head at its northern end (there’s no road along the lake).
Remember that from Yazula to Katu-Yaryk there are no roads or settlements, and you should run it self-supported. This section typically takes 2-3 days and there are trails along the river and usually some people near Chodro.