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River Guide • Altai • Sumulta
Rivers by Region

Difficulty in August: 3-4
From: Saigonosh Confluence – Alt. 1540 m (5050 ft)
To: Katun Confluence - Alt. 560 m (1830 ft)
Distance: 70 km (44 miles)
River Days: 2-3 (plus 2 days trekking and 1 day paddling out)
Average Gradient: 14 m/km (70 ft/mile)
Est. Max Gradient: 20-25 m/km (100-125 ft/mile)
Typical Flow in August: 15-20 cms (500-700 cfs)
Best Season: July-August
First-hand Information: NO

Sumulta area map
Sumulta area map

The Sumulta is a medium size right tributary of Katun, the major river of the Altai; it is very popular river due to its proximity to the city of Gorno-Altaisk and moderate difficulty.

The river in fact consist of two major sources, called Smaller Sumulta (right) and Greater Sumulta (left) correspondingly, which join only 20 km before Katun confluence. The combined river is also often called Greater Sumulta.

The run is always begins on the Smaller Sumulta, because the other source is too far from the road head and the trek there would take at least 4 days.

Access & Logistics
When driving from Gorno-Altaisk, the Chuya road leaves Katun River at the village of Ust-Sema. A dead-ended local road still goes up the Katun, via Chemal, Elanda and Edigan to Kuyus.

Edigan village is the place to hire horses (according to reports, is not a big deal here) and start trekking up the small stream Edikhta towards the Tamanel pass. The trail then follows the ridge in north-east direction, crossing sources of couple of small rivers. Finally, it swings east, climbs Saigonosh pass and follows the creek of the same name all the way down to Smaller Sumulta confluence.

There’s no road on the Katun river at the Sumulta confluence, and you will have to proceed down the Katun to the nearest village (Kuyus, Elanda or Chemal, 1-2 days, see Katun description for details).

The entire trip must be planned completely self-supported; there are no settlements along the way.

River Description

Saigonosh to Greater Sumulta confluence, 50 km (31 miles) – 1-2 days
From the put-in the river has quite a steady gradient and mostly continuous class 2-3 sections, for nearly 20 km, possibly with some 4- inside.

There are no definite marks for the most difficult section of the Smaller Sumulta – class 4 Kurtuchak rapids, some 5 km long. Most of the section can be usually eddy-hopped though.

6-10 km after the Kurtuchak rapids the river still continues as class 2-3, and then gradually eases to flat for the last 15 km before Greater Sumulta confluence.

Greater Sumulta confluence to Katun confluence, 20 km (13 miles) – 1 day
At the confluence the volume of the river doubles and in just 1 km the most difficult part of the Greater Sumulta follows – class 4/4+ Noisy rapids. The section is about 1 km long and may require quite a lot of scouting.

4-5 km after the Noisy rapids the river has several less difficult ones, and then gradually eases to mainly class 1-2 all the way to Katun.

As you enter the Katun, continue down and take out at Kuyus, Elanda or Chemal (see Katun description for details).

Begin of the trek at Edigan Saigonosh pass Kurtuchak rapids Kurtuchak rapids
Kurtuchak rapids Kurtuchak rapids Noisy rapids Noisy rapids

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