Discovery Kyrgyzstan
Discovery Kyrgyzstan travel guide #10/2008

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The Kyrgyz Mountains

Kyrgyzstan boasts a number of 7000m peaks, several of which have been climbed only relatively recently, as well as many virgin peaks. It has been suggested in the Western press that there is a "name that mountain" scheme where, in exchange for a fee, it is possible to have a peak named after you. However no such scheme exists and it seems to be just another modern myth. In 2002 a 5000m peak was named after former Russian President Boris Yeltsin and another peak was named in honor of the Kyrgyz Police. Also in 2002 a team from Azerbaijan was reported to have climbed a 5632m peak and named it "Azerbaijan Peak". It is not clear if these are examples of naming previously unnamed peaks or renaming existing ones. In 2003, a mountain with two peaks was climbed and named "9/11" in memory of the events in New York on September 11th, 2001.
There are over 88 major mountain ranges in Kyrgyzstan, most of them forming the Tien Shan System - the Celestial Mountains. The others, such as the Chon Alai range in the South of the country, belong to the Pamir system. They effectively divide the country into a number of distinct regions. The northern and southern regions, for example, are separate and connected only by a single road (the main Bishkek-Osh road).
Most of the ranges vary in length from 100 kilometers to 300 kilometers - the longest, (Kakshaal) is 582 kilometers long and the Kyrgyz Range, lying to the South of Bishkek, is 454 kilometers long. Most ranges are between 10 and 40 kilometers wide.

The Tien Shan Range - one of the largest in Asia - stretches across several countries and about two-thirds of the system lies in the territory of the Kyrgyz Republic. They are usually described as being divided into northern, western, eastern, central, and inner ranges and most of them exhibit typical "alpine" features. They are made up of sedimentary, metamorphic and igneous rocks.
The area surrounding the Enilchek Glacier has two peaks over 7000m, (Pobeda and Khan Tengri), 23 higher than 6000m including 3 virgin peaks - and more peaks between 5000m and 6000m including 14 virgin peaks. The Terksey Ala Too range - (the "shady" mountains) - is located along the Southern shores of Lake Issyk Kul.
The Kungey Ala Too range - (the "sunny" mountains) is located along the northern shores of Lake Issyk Kul and forms the border with Kazakhstan.

The Kyrgyz range runs from Issyk Kul across the northern length of the country, about 40 km south of Bishkek.
The Pamirs are found in the south of the country. Actually only the most northerly ranges of the Pamir system are in Kyrgyzstan - the Zaalaisky ridge.
The Pamir-Alai mountains - which separate the Pamirs and the Tien Shan - consist of the Turkestan (including a number of virgin peaks) and Alai ridges.
The ranges which are snow-capped throughout the year are distinguished by the phrase "Ala Too" - although in Kyrgyz the phrase means "many colors" or "colorful" or "bright mountains". The snow-line lies at about 3600m.
There are many smaller ridges, such as:
Ak Sheirak, Chatkal, Fergana, Keolu, Kok Shaal, Talas and Zaalainsky.

Discovery Kyrgyzstan #3

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