This was my first trip to Russia so I feel like I ought to have learned a little bit about the country, something besides just spending a bunch of days wandering around the mountains of Siberia. However, I’m not sure that I know much more about Russia now than before I left. Our trip was like going to the US and just visiting a couple national parks in Alaska, say Denali and the Wrangell Mountains (it’s a comparison I can justifiably make since I’ve done such a trip :)). You can see some incredible scenery, maybe some animals, and meet other like-minded trekkers from various parts of the country. Even the meeting people part was difficult for me since I don’t speak any Russian.
We did pass through a number of cities and towns in Siberia: Gorno Altaysk, Barnaul, Novokuznetsk, Abakan, and last but certainly not least Krasnoyarsk. Before getting to Krasnoyarsk, I was afraid I’d have to report that I didn’t see a single nice urban area in Siberia. I felt it was like Indonesia in that regard — a great place to visit for nature, but they sure don’t know how to do cities. Krasonyarsk wasn’t wonderful, but it was nice enough and gives me some hope for other built up places in Siberia and Russia in general.
Krasnoyarsk’s bridge over the Yenisei River, the 5th longest river in the world, is so exciting that it’s featured on the 10-ruble note.
This building wouldn’t look out of place in South Beach:
That second photo, of course, is taken in South Beach. How often do people compare Siberia with Miami?!
A friend was climbing Khan Tengri in Kyrgyzstan while Özgür and I were in Siberia. As we had a couple days in Krasnoyarsk at the end of our trip, she had a couple days in Bishkek at the end of hers. Her photos of the oversized Soviet-era government buildings in Bishkek looked no different than these buildings in Krasnoyarsk:
As exciting as Krasnoyarsk was, on our second and last day in the city, I left the urban area behind and took a short bus ride to Stolby, the large nature reserve at the edge of the city. It’s known for its granite “pillars” (stolby), typically climbed without ropes. Alex had suggested that I try climbing the First Pillar:
and the Second Pillar:
They both looked reasonable enough, and I started up the First Pillar only to get scared on a slabby section with my big clunky boots. I think I would have popped right up with rock shoes, but as it was I decided to back down and certainly was happy when I made it back to the ground uneventfully.
Here’s what those two “pillars” look like from a distance:
Alex recommended a loop hike, heading back to the city via nice trails through the forest that would lead me to the top of the ski resort where I could conveniently take the ski lift down.
Well, all good, except that the ski lift wasn’t running. Maybe it’s open on the weekend. At the top of the ski area there was, however, this nice looking yurt housing a cafe.
Also closed. 🙁
It was a fun outing in Stolby.
Finally, the yurt reminds me that while we’re in (Christian?) Russia, we’re also in the middle of Asia, not far from (Buddhist?) Mongolia and (Muslim?) Kazakhstan. The three religions meet in Siberia as we saw when we first flew into Gorno Altayask:
If you’re not confused yet, well, Ganesh bid us farewell to Russia at the Moscow airport: