ДИВНЫЙ КУЗБАСС. Кемеровская область
Following The Paths of Wondrous Kuzbass
The Kemerovo Region is a territory in the South-East of Western Siberia; on the one side there is illimitable space of plains, on the other there is majestic Altai, Sayan Moun tains and other mountains of Central Asia. The Kemerovo Region means first of all Kuzbass. And for the majority of people these two names are identical. There are good grounds for the fact that next to the traditional identification sign «Kemerovo Region» there is a huge board «Welcome to Kuzbass!»
Up-to-date region boundary was defined in 1943, January. The region covers area of around 59,465 square miles, population is 3 mln. Before the XII century the up-to-date Kuzbass territory was a sparsely populated area: tribes of shors, teleuts, chulyms and kalmaks lived there.
In 1618 Cossack ostrog (fort) was founded in the grounds of modern Novokuznetsk. It was the southern fortification Cossack post. The local population, shors, gave its name to the town. Russians called them «Kuznetzy» (smiths) for their famous skills at founding and working iron.
Usually it’s difficult to parcel a territory basing on the geographical features. Kuzbass is an exception of this rule: it can be simply and clearly divided into five parts. Three of them are mountains: Salair Ridge is on the West, Kuznetsk Alatau is on the East, Mountain Shoria is on the South. The Kuznetsk Depression, the center point of the region, lies in the centre of this «horseshoe». And, finally, the southern part of the region, which is the south-east edge of the West Siberian Plain. The landscape varies from sparkling ice shelves to black-earth tillages.
The «Wondrous Kuzbass» expedition was organized by JSC SC «Kuzbassrazrezugol» and the Ural mining-metallurgical company (UMMC) in 2010. The primary objectives of the expedition are the healthy lifestyle promotion, coal region plant trips and collection of materials for the art book on the Kemerovo Region.
The first to stages, pedestrian and overwater, took part in June, the cycling one in July, and the last one, by cars, – in August and September.
The pedestrian stage included mountaineering the High Place Teeth (Podnebesnyje Zub’ja) mountains, the most beautiful mountaintops of the Kuznetsk Alatau which lies between the Kemerovo Region and Khakassia. This is one of the magnificent places of Kuzbass: rugged mountains up to 2200 m (7217 ft) and many other picturesque places: rivers, forests, ice shelves, waterfalls…
In 2007 a chapel at the foot of High Places Teeth Mountains was consecrated in the name of the Raising of the Cross. It was built as a part of the program to found the Memorial Centre (in memory of lost travelers). The overall structure height is 14m. Instead of traditional icons, which give under the lapse rate of temperature, sculptors manufactured three mosaic stainedglass windows. The chapel was built by hand. The bell was found in Novosibirsk, the dome was made in Zlatoust.
The overwater stage was rafting the Bolshoy Kazyr and Tom’ rivers. The Kazyr river, the right tributary of the Tom river, is rather tumultuous mountain river with difficult rapids. The names only speak for themselves: Chertovy Vorota (Devil’s Gate),Tri Fashista (Three Fascists) e t.c. The stream velocity is so high, that 15km route, including stops to exam the rapid, takes only 1,5 hours.
Rafting the Tom’ river route was the same, as the kuznetsk coal discoverers’ way here. At its upstream the river looks like uninterrupted chain of riffles which, coming down from the mountains, turns into calm horizontal lines. The most extreme thing during the rafting was incredibly severe thunderstorm, which was raging over the river within many hours, so that travelers had to leave rafting means and to seek salvation ashore.
Expeditionists pulled up at Mezhdurechensk town and laid flowers to the Miner Memorial. Also the meeting with workers of open-pit coal mine «Taldinskij» was hold, and the travelers were given a tour through the largest and most promising coal producer of Kuzbass.
The last way-point was Kemerovo outside Krasnaja Gorka, near the Historical Museum of the town. There you can find complex of monuments to metallurgical heritage and exhibits, which are reflection of geologic history of Kuznetsk lands. The famous Gorelaja Gora mountain, where the dowser Mikhailo Volkov discovered the Kuznetsk coal.
The cycling stage took part in Mountain Shoria, taiga mining region in southern part of the Kemerovo Region, ajoint of Altai and Sayan Mountains. The roads, tending through the narrow forest water gaps of Mrassu, Kabyrza and Pyzas rivers are very picturesque. Numerous caves are there on the steep mountainous slopes. The cave with lake inside in Kabyrza water gasp, the villages of Ust’-Kabyrza advised to visit, made the greatest impression.
The peak of Mountain Shoria, Bolshaja Kol’tajga Mountain, which is on the Khakassia boundary, was conquered. From shor language its name can be translated as «lake amid the mountain». If you look at the mountain on bird’s eye view, it looks like a horseshoe with lakes inside: the big one and three small ones. The big lake almost always is frozen and only in summer thaws slightly. But you can have a swim in the smallest lake, the thermal spring is drowned in it.
Both Shors and Khakas regard the mountain as a sacred one and both these people consider it as their own one. It goes without saying that the mountain snatched an opportunity to display its cruel disposition. During the descent of the mountain rainstorm with hail and thunder broke once again. The heat gave place to downpour, the mountain was now cloud-capped and the travelers lost their way, having found themselves on the tiny Kichi wood division. Shors, who could hardly speak Russian, shown cordial hospitality, accommodated the travellers for the night, provided a meal and bath-house.
During the automobile stage, which was at the end of summer and within gold kuzbass autumn, the expedition went trough the Kemerovo Region west-to-east from Salair Ridge to Bolshoy Berchikul lake, and north-to-south from Mariinsk to Mrassu village up Mrassu river. Look at the Kemerovo Region map. And you’ll see the flat hand with industrial and agricultural farms at the centre of it and wonderful nature on its periphery, which seems to be specially made for the rest of hard-working population.This is a flat hand of reach and fantastically beautiful land.
Good luck, Kuzbass!
Special gratitude for assistance in organization of expedition to alternate director of JSC SC «Kuzbassrazrezugol» Mikhail Chernyak, to press relations service head officer S. Dubkov, to V. Zakopajlova, O. Zakharov, V. Severnyj.