GPS: 43.132263, 76.866124
To the west of Almaty Gorge Kargaly Gorge is situated. The sight is quiet rare visited, that is why the gorge is little-known for tourists. Very often the gorge is mixed with Uzun-Kargaly Gorge, located far west of Kaskelen Gorge with Kargaly (Fabrichny) Village in the mouth.
Kargaly Gorge originates in Uzlovaya Peak at the cross-point of Aksai and Kargalinka spurs. To the west the gorge is bordered with Kargalinsky spur – the watershed between Kargaly and Almaty Gorges. From the west Kargaly Gorge is divided from Pravy Aksai Gorge with Aksai spur. Kargaly Gorge stretches up for nearly 18 kilometers. It is oriented from north to south and only in the middle part 4 kilometers long it changes direction from the south-west to north-east.
Description of the gorge is giving, as a rule, while walking from north to south.
Kargaly Village, situated in the mouth of the gorge, smoothly passes to massifs of summer cottages, scattered on the foothill slopes of Ile Alatau and anti-mudflow dam below them.
Just after the dam the dirty road, stretched for 3 kilometers, runs on the right (while walking) side of the gorge. Farther there is a path, meandering along the river bed. The river must be waded several times because there was lack of bridges.
The path from the joint-point of the main and lateral gorges passes to the right side of the valley and runs through the fir-grove up to the gorge turn to the south-west. Here it extends and forms small terraces on the slopes; the path runs across the terrace with meadows, while terraces on the opposite side are covered with mixed forests, consisted, preferably, of fir-trees. Approximately 2 kilometers further, the path crosses the Kargalinka River where it confluents with a stream, flowing down the slopes of the so-called ‘Hanging Valley’ –a small lateral gorge of the Kargalinka River basin.
The name of the ‘Hanging Valley’ is given due to its contours. Middle part of the gorge suddenly flows down from the height of 3 000 meters up to 2 400 meters on a short (1,5 kilometers) distance. Upper part of the gorge visually hangs on a large height upon the main part of the gorge. Where the gorge flattens, under steep slopes covered with dense fir forest, a picturesque and comfortable glade, romantically named ‘Moon glade’ is located. In spring and first half of summer, when remains of snowslides are thawing, someone can see a beautiful waterfall, flowing down the rock step; in June the rush of water dries up, turning into half-visible stream.
The ‘Moon glade’ is rather popular among tourists thanks to its locality in vicinity of the city and easy access. Despite the Kargaly Gorge path there is one more track from Almaty Gorge, running from the lateral Kaskabas Gorge to the unnamed pass of the Kargaly Ridge. After a short rise the left path crosses the slope and takes out to the beautiful Alpine meadows; later it reaches Kargaly Ridge and ‘Hanging Valley’.
Middle path runs down to the ‘Moon Glade’, connected with it upper parts of the Hanging Valley. While walking along the right trail, running to the north along the Kargaly Ridge, one can reach Kaskabas Mountain and then falls down in Kargaly or Bolshoye Almatinskoe Gorges.
Some words about the Hanging Valley. It is completely situated in the Kargaly Gorge and represents by trough (hoof-shaped, or U-shaped) valley. Eastern boundary is marked with Kargaly Ridge with Kargaly Peak. The peak is rocky, snowless, without glaciers. There are a large number of unusual rock formations – needles, spikes, fantastic images - on the western slope.
A small ridge, branching to the west from Kargaly Peak, changes its direction and reaches the damaged rock top, fully confirming its name – the Kamensky (stony) Peak and limiting the valley from the west. Eastern upper parts of the slopes of the peak are rocky, lower parts are crumbling. From the west slopes are breaking off with abrupt rocky walls.
The Hanging Valley is nicely observed from Almaty.
Anticline between Kargaly and Kamensky peaks is informally named as Kamensky. While passing the anticline someone can reach the high-mountain part of the Kargaly Gorge.
There is a small spring in the middle part of the valley, the only source of fresh water in the area. It is very important information as there is no any water on the way from Kargaly and Almaty gorges, so it must be stored before.
Let us return to the main gorge. After the river crossing the path smoothly runs up the shelving ridge and turns to the south-west. The track is running along the high northern slope of the Kamensky Peak towards the low ridge of Aksai spur. After the turn of the gorge to the south the path is running along the Kamensky Peak. At the end of the gorge a panoramic view to the ‘Kargaly Horseshoe’- a line of peaks forming the Kargaly glacier circus – is opened.
After passing slopes of the Kamensky Peak opens a view to the Pervomaisky Peak – a beautiful pyramidal crest with snowy northern slope, topped with rocky spire.
To the left of the main gorge there is a small gorge, along which someone can reach as the ‘Hanging Valley’ (across the Kamenskaya anticline), so along the east ridge to the Burketty ravine, bringing to the glade ‘Aleshkin Bridge’ in Almaty Gorge, which turns in south direction to the Kazakhstan Tourist’s Peak after 1,5 kilometers form the confluent of the gorge and the Kargalinka River. The valley ends with a small circus, similar the ‘Hanging Valley’, but of less seize and extent. In the far left angle there is a Kazakhstan Tourist’s Peak, dominating over the circus with elevated moraine ridge of the former small glacier.
Crossing the southern anticline of the circus someone can reach the small valley of the Giant glacier. It is of great interest that a line of such small valleys (hanging), elevated over the main gorge and stretched along the spur presents only in the Kargaly Gorge.
Two peaks, located in the Kargaly spur –a Giant and Oktober Peaks and two simple crosses –Lomakin and Raduga – correspond to the Giant glacier circus.
Alpine and sub-alpine meadows accompanied you while moving up the main gorge. Approximately in 2 kilometers a spring flows down to the left from moraine slabs. It originates from the Giant glacier; farther there is a Giant Peak. Moraines of the main glacier begin in this place. While stepping moraines, a small circus of the Kargaly glacier and surrounding it peaks and crosses can be observed.
11 peaks of different difficult categories and without them belong to the Kargaly Gorge.
Kaskabas, Kamensky and Kargaly mountain peaks have no difficult category. Pervomaisky, 3 900, Uzlovaya, Y.Gagrin, Zhastar, Giant, October and Tourist of Kazakhstan peaks are of different difficulty categories. These peaks form a Kargaly Horseshoe.
Crossings are few and rather easy in reach. Among them are two crosses – Unnamed and Kamensky – without category. Five crossings – Lower Kargaly, High Kargaly, bringing to the Pravy Aksai, and Glaciology, Rainbow, Lomakina, taking to the upper parts of Almaty Gorge.