The Teberdinsk State reserve
Silence, the air, besoting by freshness and much sun… Fir and spurce branches bend under the weight of the snow which, thawing a little, falls down noisily from time to time, spreading a cloudlet of silvery spray. A fan of uniquely beautiful gorges, stretching to the snowy ridge of the main Caucasian ridge. It seems as if high mountains, covered with forests and emerald meadows, rough rapid waters, fabulously beautiful Alpine lakes, pearl strings of waterfalls, rich flora and various fauna create an animate museum of the nature. It is Teberdin reserve.
Territory of the reserve (about 85,000 ha) stretches along the southern slope of Main Caucasian ridge and its lateral spurs; it includes upper reaches of the basin of the Teberda river and a separate section in Arhiz, in the upper reaches of the Bolshoi Zelentchuk river. From the north the reserve is limited by confluents of the Tiberda – the Dzhamagat and Mukhu, from the south – Main dividing ridge, from the east and the west – its spurs.
The reserve zone is of horseshoe form and cut in the middle by the Teberda river. The Main ridge, like a grandiose barrier (its height is 3-4 thousand meters) separates upper reaches of the Teberda from the Black Sea, distance from here to which makes up no more than 50 km.
43 species of mammals, among which the most typical representative is western Caucasian goat, or Caucasian stone goat, dwell on the territory of the reserve. Peculiarity of these animals are large horns of saber form, reaching 1 m lengthwise at old males and 30 cm around at the bottom and amazingly keen fitness to existence in the mountains.
Pride of the reserve is bison – the largest among wild animals of the Europe. Bisons were almost fully exterminated and after the second world war were preserved only in zoological gardens and zoos. In the Caucasus last bison was killed in 1927. Drastic measures on restoration of their population were taken after the second world war and when it became quite large, bisons were released, mostly into the reserves.
In the reserve, 170 species of birds, including overflying and inflying, are found. 87 species of them are nesting. In spring, when summer guests fly in, and settled species of birds start breeding, forests of the reserve become a real bird’s kingdom.
Among predators the most usual and peculiar species for the reserve is brown bear. Their maximal population here is 80-90 individuals. It is a relatively peaceful animal, feeds mainly on vegetable food, bit in early spring often looks for dead bodies of goats, which died in the snow avalanches, and eats them.
At the end of summer many alpine meadows look lilac-blue from flowering scabious. Upper spread limit is rocks. Lady’s mantle, violet, bellflower, whitlow grass, potentilla, aye-green, saxifrage, fescue. All rocky plants grow and propagate slowly, and settling of plants at 3,000-3,200 m of height is slower. Higher, on the tops and crests of ridges, there is no soil and higher plant. Among plant bodies only algas, making the snow red, and on the rocks – thin rinds of lichens are found.
DombaiHaving known a little about dwellers of the reserve, let’s set off for a “heart of mountains”, for Dombai. It is surrounded with them from all sides. A peculiar symbol of Dombai is beautiful Belialakaya rock (a stripy rock) , which was called in such way because of several belts of white quartz, thickness of which is up to 50 m. Its name originates from words “beli” – belt, “ala” – motley, bright, and “kaya” – rock. It is translated as “rock with white strips”. Pick Kop (3,400 m), Eriog are seen behind it, tower Alibek-bashi (3,782 m) shows black. Mountain Sulahat, resembling a lying woman, is seen.
A wonderful panorama of Main Caucasian ridge, appearing in form of a continuous cogged wall opens from a top of Mussa-Achitara. It is divided into separate massifs with tops: Small Dombai-Ulgen, Dombai-Ulgen. Pick Ine (needle) (3,409 m) rises in front. Many-topped massif Dzhuguturlyuchat (3,981 m), three-topped massif Amanauza (3,757 m) is seen behind it.
A way to the bottom of Zub Sophrudzhu, a rocky massif with a top in a black horn form, stretches through very beautiful gorge Amanauz. In translation this name means ”malicious jaws” because of the fact that malicious bears dwelled there formerly.
Word “dombai” is translated from Karachai “bison”. Formerly whole herds of powerful giants wandered in Dombai forests. Name of the highest mountain in this area Dombai-Ulgen is translated from natives’ language as “killed bison”. There is also the other version, according to which Dombai glade was called after the name of a hunter Dommai, who had killed the beast while hunting bisons, but hadn’t held his ground, fell down from a high mountain into the precipice and was killed.
The main border between estates of Skythians-Sarmatians in the north and the Kolkhi in the south stretches here already in great antiquity (1 thousand year B.C.). Later (4-8 centuries A.D.) Abkhazians occupied the southern slopes and Alanians appeared in the mountain gorges of Kuban. An ancient trade rout, along to which caravans of Roman, Genoese and Byzantine merchants used to pass, stretched through Kluhorsky pass.
The Tatar-Mongolian invasion brought destruction to Alania power, forced out many tribes to the mountains. A Karachai nationality, which has been existing as natives of these places still now, formed in the mountain gorges of Kuban and Teberda on the base of Alanians, thinning out, and Turkic-speaking kipchaks.
Dombai is located on the territory of Teberdinsky state preserve. In the mountains of Teberda and Dombai there are numerous waterfalls: Tchuhursky, Ptishsky, Sophrudzhinsky, Alibeksky, Shupka; mountain lakes: Kluhorskoe lake, which was formed in the basin of a waning ice at height of 2,690 m; relic forests.
Soft climate, no lack of the sun, temperate moisture and wonderful nature made Dombai honored fame of a wonderful mountain resort. Blue glaciers and bright carpets of subalpine meadows, scumming waterfalls and turquoise of lakes, fanciful rocks and clear brooks make this nook of our huge country unique.
Dombai is a center of alpinism and tourism in Caucasus. Perhaps there is no other place with such natural resources as Dombai glade. All, what attracts numerous tourists and alpinists, is concentrated in the small area.
Climate of Dambai is so favorable that after spending some time here people don’t want to return in the stifling stench of cities. Even after 1-2 days of staying here, one may “charge” with energy and zest for life minimum for 1-2 days.
The first travels and climbing Dombai were carried out in 1904-1905 by members of Russian mountain society. In 1925 B. Delone’s group climbed snowy Sophrudzhu. From 1929 to 1933 groups of soviet scientists, small at that time, under the direction of V. Mitnikov, B. Aleinikov and hot enthusiast of Dombai B. Delone conquered tops Ertsog, Dzhuguturluchat, Bu-Ulgen, Chotcha, Zub Sophrudzhu, Southern Amanauz. In 1933 B. Aleinikov’s group reached tops of forbidding Dombai-Ulgen. Their routes has became classical.
A tourist-climbing camp of Proletarian Tourism and Excursions Society appeared in 1934 in the most picturesque glade in Dambai. Mountain travels and climbing the tops has become more popular. Already 10 alpinist camps, concentrated mainly on the same glade. Building of Scientists’ recreation center – the famous wooden chamber of Dombai, an adornment of Dambai glade – began here in 1937.
Before the war tourist tours and mountain climbings was popular, best alpinists of the country, train here.
The whole tourist complex of 12 hotels operate in Dombai glade at present time. 5 lines of funiculars, a jig-back ropeway, a net of towing roads (length of which is 200-600 m). Descending from Mussa-Achitara ridge is possible by tens ways of routes of different degrees of steepness, difficultness and speed, that satisfies tastes of experienced alpinists and beginners. Many pedestrian and horse routes begin from Dombai meadow.
There are also night clubs with bowling. After a pick of New Year holidays the resort prepares for a new wave of tourists because the best months for skiing here are March and April. Then May holidays come and Dombai attracts tourists again by a possibility to combine summer and winter: below it is hot like in summer, and on the tops the snow lies and skiers ski as usual. Season for pedestrian and horse walks begins from June, rock-climbers “wake up”. And already at the end of October first skiers.
Already now Dombai may easily with foreign resorts in national colour. Caucasian hospitality is turned here in a real ceaseless show. You needs only to enter the settlement and it seems as if you find yourself in the center half of Sorochinskaya fair, half of an eastern market, splashing with all conceivable colours against the background of the snowy mountains.
The famous Sweden scientists and alpinists, sophisticated by pictures of the wonderful mountains, declared in their time that in beauty, richness of glaciers, luxuriance of forests and plants Dombai surpasses all, what can be seen in Alps. And it is impossible to answer the question: “In which season Dombai is the most beautiful?” Dombai is wonderful always.
ArhizCrystal brooks and rivers flow down from high tops and glaciers. Some of them don’t hurry: with blue eyes of lakes they are observing the broken world of wild rocks for a long time. Others, impatient, hang in the grove by clinking waterfalls. Having collected below, they run without stop through alpine meadows, forests and valleys, inhaling clearness of the mountain air, coldness of ices, white boiling of flowering rhododendrons, smell ripe strawberries and dreaminess of seventy-year-old giants-firs.
Confluents flow together into two already large rivers – the Psish and Kizgitch, which then, at a small mountain settlement with romantic name “Arkhiz” form Big Zelentchuk, roughly carrying to Kuban their unusual green-blue waters.
There is much sun in Arkhiz. In the Northern Caucasus it is called “pole of clearness”. At the same time much precipitations fall. Rains are oftener in May and November. June, August and September are the “driest”. Winter is sunny, snowy, robust, soft and fabulously beautiful. It lasts in the settlement for about four months, beginning with the second half of October.
The name of the settlement originates form Karachai words “artsu kiz” – beautiful girl. From of old Arkhiz has been famous for its mountain salubrious climate. On the whole, the climate here is temperal-continental climate. It tones up man’s organism. In different parts of the area, owing to large crossness of the territory, climate is various. In the lower northern part it is warmer and softer, in the mountain part – severe. The most favorable place in respect of climate is Arkhiiz hole and valleys, bordering with it.
The hole is protected from all sides by high ridges thus special conditions, which are characterized by few clouds, large number of sunny days, dryness of the air, lack of strong winds, are created.
The flora and fauna of Arkhiz is very rich and various, therefore in 1957 thus area was joined Teberdinsk state reserve. Monument of the nature is also Arkhiz beech forest (a special tablet contains points to this fact). It is a rare at such heights section (23 ha) of powerful old trees of 200-220 years old, height of which is 25-28 m and girth of trunk is 3-3.5 m.
Founded in 1923 settlement Arkhiz is located at height of 1,450 m above sea level. Entering here you find yourself in the atmosphere of a tiny settlement. Sensation of peace, calm and regularity of life grips you from the first minutes of your stay here. It is especially good here for nature-lovers, not disfiguring by progress.
TeberdBeing observed from large height, mountain ridges on the territory of the reserve are seen as a difficult system of arcs, splitting in the middle by a deep valley, in the upper reaches of which powerful glaciers slip down. The reserve mountains number more than a hundred lakes. Most of them were formed in the place of vanished glaciers. There are many also waterfalls. Mineral springs well out here and there in the valley of Teberda and at its confluents.
If spring in Teberda is quite uncertain, with often return of the cold weather and late snowfalls (they happen even at the end of May), autumn, on the contrary, is noted for clear settled weather. Therefore, the best seasons are summer and autumn, though it is interesting to be here in any season. Winter begins at the end of November or in December. There is much snow here (thickness of blanket of snow is over 2 m) and lies it, as a rule, for a long time.
In the mountains at the end of winter snow-slips are often. Sometimes an ominous roar of avalanches spreads far in the gorge. Snowy waterfalls root up trees, break rocks, fill up roads. About 700 mm precipitations fall per a year in Teberda. Nearer to Main ridge rainfalls increase noticeably: in Dombai valley they are two times larges that in Teberda, though distance between them is only 20 km.
City-resort Teberda is located in the very middle of the Western Caucasus mountains at height of 1,300 – 1,350 m above sea level. Resort Teberda is a wonderful sunny area. From all sides the resort is surrounded with emerald mountains of fanciful outlines: ridges Kurndelenle, Muhu, Dzhamagat, Hatipara, Garali-Kol. Dozens of picturesque gorges pull out walls of ridges. Many of them with luxuriant southern flora, forests and meadows occupy huge territories.
When the weather is fine toothed “towers” and “walls” of Devil’s Castle (Shaitan-Bashi) are distinctly stand out against the background of the sky. The Shumka river is born on the western spurs of this mountain, at first it flows by an underground channel, then at altitude of 1,520 m it falls down by a waterfall from 12 m of height, forming clouds of water spray. The Shumka feeds on meltwater of snowfields and a small glacier, which has kept intact on the northern shady slopes of Devil’s Castle.
Teberda resort today is a center of tourism and a climatic balneal resort, widely known both in Russia and abroad. There are some sanatoriums, equipped with modern technique, here. The latest technologies and medicine achievements in curing sick men. There are also sanatoriums, meant for co-rest of parents with their children, a qualified medical staff work in them.
But “chief doctor” here is the purest, saturated with ozone air. As doctor A. Malishev correctly said: “It invisibly flows down from alpine meadows through the coniferous forest and, having reached the valley, floods it with wonderful freshness and salubrious force”.
Purpose of the reserve is preservation of typical mountain-forest subalpine and alpine landscapes. Here, in the natural laboratory, a course of the development of the natural complex is studied every day, every year, that reflexes in “Chronicle of the nature”. Coming here for resting, you will be able to “leaf over” the “chronicle of the nature” not disturbing it and also to visit the museum of the nature and a demonstrational nursery of wild animals.