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River Guide • Altai • Pyzha
Rivers by Region

Difficulty in August: 2-3 (5)
From: Obogo - Alt. 860 m (2820 ft)
To: Biya Confluence - Alt. 420 m (1380 ft)
Distance: 60 km (37 miles)
River Days: 2-3
Average Gradient: 7 m/km (35 ft/mile)
Est. Max Gradient: 60-70 m/km (300-350 ft/mile)
Typical Flow in August: 20-25 cms (700-900 cfs)
Best Season: July-August
First-hand Information: NO

Pyzha area map
Pyzha area map

The Pyzha is a left tributary of Biya, the only river flowing out of Teletskoye Lake. It is not a particularly interesting whitewater journey with exception of a 1-km long “waterfall” section.

The river starts on the plateau west to Teletskoye Lake (not far from sources of Greater Chili) and generally flows to the north and parallel to the lake. Upper part of the river is rather flat and boring, as well as the lower part before Biya confluence.

In the middle stretch the river makes a left elbow, cutting through a mountainous range and creating a 10 km medium difficulty gorge. The only really attractive whitewater feature in the gorge is a so-called “Pyzha Falls” section, about 1-km long and consisting of some quite hard and dangerous steep rapids and falls. This section has been kayaked once in 2001.

Access & Logistics
The good paved road goes all the way up the Biya, to the Iogach (also called Artybash) village at the point where Biya flows out of the lower end of the lake. This road is easily accessible from either Gorno-Altaisk or Biysk. From Iogach a 40-km rough road goes south to a small forester’s post Obogo located on the right bank of the Pyzha. The road then continues for another 10 km down the river and allows saving some distance paddling the flat meandering section near Obogo.

Take-out is at the Biya confluence or anywhere down the Biya on the Biysk-Iogach road mentioned above.

There are no roads or settlements for 20-25 km below Obogo. There are some farms and tiny settlements in the lower stretches of the river, but they can be well abandoned the time you come there, so you should be self-supported on this river.

River Description

Obogo to Balgashta Farm, 25 km (15 miles) – 1-2 days
Below Obogo the Pyzha flows west for some 10 km, the river is flat and meandering class 1. After the valley swings north, first easy rapids come and in about next 5 km you end up with the first fall section. There are no distinct landmarks for the falls, apart from river gradient – it looks as if the whole river disappears somewhere and the tops of the big trees are seen on the horizon.

The first fall section is some 500-800 m long and drops approximately 40-50 m. Scouting is difficult as there are no trails along either shore.

The second fall section comes after 1.5-2 km and is much easier and shorter than the first one. The river drops about 15-20 m in a 300-400 m stretch.

From here some easy and medium difficulty rapids continue for the next 7-8 km until the valley gradually opens and Balgashta farm appears on the right bank. If someone lives there, it might possible to buy fresh milk and honey.

Balgashta Farm to Biya confluence, 35 km (22 miles) – 1 day
Below Balgashta the Pyzha is merely class 1-2 stream meandering all the way to Biya confluence. Nevertheless, beware of what is called “Ugly Channels” – a 5-7 km long labyrinth between heavy wooden islands, full of dead-ended passages and log barricades blocking the whole river.

The “Ugly Channels” are located in about 15 km below Balgashta, roughly halfway down to the confluence. Novotroitsk village then follows on the right bank, and from here it’s only 10 km to the Biya and the main road.

Upper stretches of the Pyzha Before the first fall section First fall section First fall section
First fall section First fall section Second fall section Second fall section

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