Probably many modern travelers at least once in their lives thought about what is the height of the Sayan Mountains. Why might this interest? As a rule, there are several explanations at once, the most important of which are ordinary curiosity and an irrepressible desire to visit all possible highest points of our country, if not the planet as a whole, then at least.
This article aims to tell about such an amazing geographical object of our country as the Sayan Mountains. The reader learns a lot of useful information about this corner of our, rightly said, immense homeland.
The Sayan Mountains, photos of which can be found in almost any guidebook to the regions of the Russian Federation, consist of two interlocking mountain systems located in southern Siberia within the limits of the Irkutsk Region, the Krasnoyarsk Territory, the Republics of Tyva, Khakassia and Buryatia, as well as the northern regions of Mongolia bordering Republics of Tyva and Buryatia.
The mountains are divided geographically into the Western and Eastern Sayans, each of which is distinguished by a number of its own characteristic features.
For example, the western part has flattened and pointed ridges without glaciations, between which intermountain depressions are located. For the eastern part, however, the typical mountain peaks with glaciers are typical.
Sayan Mountains have many rivers belonging to the Yenisei basin.
The slopes are covered with mountain taiga, turning into the highland tundra. Between the mountain systems there are many basins of various shapes and depths. One of the most famous is the Minusinsk Basin, which has a large number of archaeological monuments. In general, it can be noted that the average amplitude of the heights of the Eastern Sayans differs significantly from the identical index of the western ridges.
Where did the name come from
Scientists claim that these places received their name in honor of the eponymous Turkic tribe living in Siberia, in the upper reaches of the Yenisei and Oka.
Later, the Sayans united with other mountain tribes and became part of the peoples of the Republic of Tyva. The ethnos itself belonged to the Samoyed tribes, and its representatives called the mountains “Kogmen”, while the Buryats gave them a more difficult name for the ears of modern man - “Sardyk”.
The Russian Cossacks Tyumenets and Petrov, who visited 1615 in the birthplace of Altyn Khan, told about this tribe in their annals. Later, in the records of Russian travelers, the mountains already appeared under the name of the Sayan Mountains, the highest point of which, as was established later, is 3491 m.
Features of education
It should be noted that from a geological point of view these are relatively young mountains, which, according to scientists, appeared about 400 million years ago.
They are formed from ancient rocks, including those of volcanic origin. Before the formation of the mountain system, there was an ocean here, as evidenced by the remains of fossil algae found.
The formation of mountainous terrain occurred under the influence of climate. During the period of ancient glaciation, the mountains were covered with glaciers, which, moving, changed the earth's surface, forming pointed peaks and ravines with steep slopes. After warming, the glaciers melted, filling in numerous depressions and lowering the relief - lakes of glacial origin appeared.
Many believe that the height of the Sayan Mountains is not so significant, and therefore does not deserve special attention. Let's check whether this is in fact, getting to know their geographical features more closely.
In general, this elevation is a continuation of the Altai mountain system, which serves as the border between China and Russia.
Mountains consist of parallel mountain chains interconnected by nodes. With the Altai mountain system, the Sayan mountains are connected by the Shabin-Davan range. To the north and north-west of it stretches Kaltanovsky ridge, which rests on the Itemy ridge, stretching from east to south-west from the tributary of the Yenisei. In the south, the Kaltanovsky ridge connects with the Omaytura foothill. To the east of the ridge Shabin-Davan, the Sayan are divided into two chains. The Northern Sayans are known as Kur-Taiga, and the southern - Tuna-Taiga.
From the northern Sayan mountains in the upper reaches of the Sosnovka and Kyzyn-su rivers there is a mountain spur that separates the Kantegir and Yenisei rivers. Further, through the Yenisei, the Sayan Mountains leave by several chains to the northeast.
The majestic river of Siberia, the Yenisei, passes through the mountain ranges of the massif called the Western Sayans, forming many rapids.
On the right bank of the Yenisei, the mountains smoothly pass into the steppes of Minusinsk district. The parallel chains of the Sayans bear different names. The Kyzyrsuksky Ridge is closely adjacent to the Yenisei, creating a narrow passage with a powerful waterfall called the Big Threshold. Then it passes between the Kyzyr-Suk and Bolshoi Oi rivers to the banks of the Yenisei, where the Biryusinsky chain drops to a height of 1600 feet.
In addition to the two branches, the Sayans have a mountain range that separates the Kazyra and Kizir rivers. Further Agulsky spur goes to the north and north-west and divides the rivers Tagul and Agul.
How the highest mountain of the Sayans was formed: myths and legends of the Sayan mountains
The power of boulders, resting almost in the sky itself, always became an object for inspiration and some respect from the peoples inhabiting these regions. That is why in the folklore of the locals you can find such a huge number of legends devoted just to this topic. Let's get acquainted with some of them.
In ancient times, the heavenly deity sent his son Geser to earth to fight evil. In those days, all gods and heroes lived in the mountains, and Geser’s throne was on the highest mountain. Heavenly hero cleared the world from injustice and monsters, made many feats. His warriors turned to stone, turning into mountains. Now they are called Sayan, and the highest of them, where his throne was, is Munku-Sardyk. The tops of the Sayan Mountains have ancient names and are shrouded in myths. On many of them, so-called “obo”, or places of worship and sacrifice to the gods, were built of stones and logs.
In general, Geser is a mythological hero worshiped by almost all the peoples of Central Asia. The tale of this deity contains numerous plot cycles and has about 22 000 lines. The study of the epos continues over a hundred years, but there is still no genuine data. Some believe that Geser is a fictional hero, while others are of the opinion that the epic is dedicated to Genghis Khan. It is also possible that Geser means the Roman translation of the title Caesar (Caesar). The Buryat Heseriad considers the version that the epic appeared before his birth. But the majority are inclined to believe that the legends about Geser tell about the life of a military leader who lived in the XI-XII centuries.
The mystery and mystery of the name
The ancestors of the modern Tuvinians are the Turkic tribe of Soyots, who lived in the past in the mountains in the upper reaches of the Yenisei and Oka rivers. According to ethnographers, “soyot” refers to the plural word “soyon,” and therefore this tribe was also called soyon. Later, the word was modified in Sayan. The tribe called mountains "Kogmen", which meant "heavenly obstacles." Buryats called these mountains "Sardyk", which means "char".
For the first time, Russian Cossacks Petrov and Tyumenets reported on the Sayan Hills, who visited Altyn Khan in 1615. The first conqueror of Sayan was Commissioner Pesterov, who checked the border lines in the mountains and was responsible for the border posts and signs in 1778-1780. Research Sayan began in the XIX century.
The Western Sayan has a folded structure and is part of the Caledonian belt of the Paleozoic Altai-Sayan region. It stretches from southwest to northeast in the form of an ellipse, which is bounded on all sides by faults. The internal structure is due to the complex surface-covering type of structure.
If you disclose such a complex and multifaceted issue as the height of the Sayan Mountains, it is impossible not to mention that the mountain system of the western part is divided into several tectonic zones (North Sayan, Central Sayan, Borusskoy and Kurtushuba). The North Sayan belt includes volcanogenic-sedimentary Vendian-Cambrian sediments with a combination of ophiolitic rocks in melange zones.
The Lower Paleozoic quartzites and diabases, as well as clay-siliceous schists and hyperbasites are typical for the Kurtushibin and Borusky belts. Such rocks are complex tectonic-sedimentary mixtures. The Central Sayan Belt consists of a complex of early Paleozoic volcanogenic-flyshoid formations with numerous granite strata. This belt is characterized by tectonic accumulations and non-uniform changes in sedimentary rocks. Also, the Jabash zone, which has a more ancient (Riphean) origin, located along the northern part of the Western Sayans, is sometimes isolated separately. Altered volcanogenic-flyshoid sediments predominate here.
Eastern Sayan is divided according to its age. The northeastern part, adjacent in the southwest to the Siberian platform, belongs to the most ancient (Precambrian) type, and the southwestern - to the younger (Caledonian) type. The first consists of modified Precambrian rocks, which include ancient gneisses and amphibolites. The central Derbinsky anticlinorium has a structure of younger rocks — shale, marble, and amphibolites. The southwestern part of the Sayan Mountains is composed of volcanic-sedimentary rocks. In the north and west of the Eastern Sayans formed orogenic depressions, consisting of volcanogenic terrigenous rocks.
Considering in more detail such a thing as height, the Sayan Mountains cannot be represented as a whole geological object. Why? The fact is that their eastern part is longer and taller than the western one. For example, the peak of the first part rises above sea level by 3491 m (the highest point of the Sayan Mountains is Munku-Sardyk), while the second one is only at 3121 m. Yes and the length of the eastern one is almost 400 km more than the western one.
However, despite these differences, the value and importance of this array for the economy of our country is difficult to overestimate. The fact is that the number of useful rocks occurring in their strata is truly impressive.
In the Western Sayan Mountains there are deposits of iron, copper, gold, chrysotile asbestos, molybdenum and tungsten ores. The main wealth of the mining depths is iron and chrysotile asbestos. Iron ore is a hydrothermal-metasomatic type, associated with gabbroids and granitoids of increased basicity. Chrysotile asbestos is associated with Lower Cambrian hyperbasites.
The Eastern Sayan Mountains, whose height predominates significantly, is known for deposits of gold, iron, aluminum, titanium ores and other rare metals, graphite, mica, and magnesite. Iron deposits are represented by ferruginous quartzites, volcanogenic-sedimentary hematite-magnetite and magnetite ores. Aluminum ores are represented by bauxite, urtite, and sillimanite-containing Proterozoic schists. Agro-ores include secondary phosphorites. Also there are small deposits of contact-metasomatic phlogopite and pegmatite muscovite. The region has found reserves of quartz, graphite, jade, chrysotile asbestos, limestone and building materials.
This territory stretches to the north-east to the Eastern Sayan, from the sources of the Maly Abakan River to the headwaters of the Kazyr and Uda rivers. The highest point is considered to be the Kyzyl-Taiga range (3120 m), which is part of the watershed Sayan range.
The alpine terrain with steep slopes and extensive stone placers is characteristic of the mountain landscape. Mountain peaks in the west reach heights up to 3000 m, to the east they fall to 2000 m. The foot of the slopes are covered with pine-deciduous forests, which turn into dark coniferous taiga above.
The upper tiers at a height of 2000 m represent mountain taiga with glacial lakes, caries and moraines. On the territory of the Western Sayans is Sayano-Shushensky Reserve.
Eastern Sayan Mountains
The tops of this territory are covered with non-flowing snow. The highest point of the Eastern Sayans and the Sayan Mountains themselves, as already mentioned above, is Munku-Sardyk Mountain (3490 m), to which the Oka Plateau is adjacent. The plain here is covered with alpine meadows, deciduous forests and mountain tundra, there are also desert rocky areas. In the central part a knot of several ridges is formed, its highest peak (Grandiose peak) has a height of 2980 m.
Topographers peak (3044 m) belongs to the second highest peak. The main glaciers are located near the main peaks. In addition, in the Eastern Sayan Mountains there is a “valley of volcanoes” with traces of volcanic activity, which is a volcanic plateau. Recent lava emissions were about 8000 years ago. In the Eastern Sayan Mountains, the world famous Stolby Nature Reserve is located.
What to see in the Sayan Mountains
Taking into account all the above facts, it is not surprising that the height of the Sayan Mountains annually attracts such a huge number of travelers from different parts of the globe. Everyone wants to feel like a piece of something huge and immense.
However, it is not only elevation that beckons here, the Sayan Mountains have a unique taiga landscape with glacial lakes, waterfalls and rivers creating unique landscapes.
Central Sayan Mountains (Tofalaria) are considered the most inaccessible and deserted area of mountains. Among the taiga of the Western Sayans hid the natural "Stone City", where the rocks resemble the remains of ancient castles and fortresses. The Eastern Sayan Mountains are known for the Shumak mineral springs and the “valley of volcanoes”.
The area of Munku-Sardyk with the Oka plateau is especially beautiful in July, when the mountains are covered with a colored carpet of poppies, rhododendrons, edelweiss, golden root and other plants. There are many gorges, rivers, lakes and streams, deer and musk deer. The nature of Munku-Sardyk is almost untouched by man. The ridge itself is located on the border between Russia and Mongolia, and a visit to this area is possible only with permission from the border service, otherwise the height of the Sayan Mountains can bewitch only from the outside.