photos by Denis Panov
Altai Books and Altai
invite you to set your compass on peace.
2007 INTERNATIONAL ALTAI EXPEDITION
& PEACE-MAPPING “SUMMIT”
July 14 - August 3 rev.11/21/06
• Environmental Clean-Up Project
• Costs and Deadlines
• Packing List
• Reading List
• Flash slide shows
• Contact Us
• UPDATES & Questions
• Registration Form
- Join us, high in the sacred mountains of Altai, for a Global Peace-Mapping “Summit” in this
place of recognized spiritual energy and harmony.
- Chart your “critical path” using a new peace-mapping model that originates
- Clarify and magnify your intentions through the powerful light/life vortex at Mt. Beluha.
- Challenge yourself with a well-supported trek (either on horseback or horse-supported trekking)
in one of the most pristine wildernesses
on the planet—designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.
- Connect and celebrate life in the pure joy of being in a supportive, conscious group.
- Contribute to the environmental stability of the region through a our sponsorship of a
clean-up to remove non-biodegradable garbage left by trekkers and climbers.
You are invited to join peace activists from around the world for this
Peace-Mapping “Summit” in the Altai
Mountains, in the center of Asia—renowned as the source of global shamanism, and a glorious
place of power and healing to this day.
We will use the the power at Mt. Belukha, the sacred “heart of the heart” of
Altai to clarify and structure our life-enhancing intentions—both collective and
individual—and send them out into the world.
And finally, we will make a significant environmental contribution,
facilitating the first haul-out of decades of trekkers’ garbage
and the installation of outhouses in this fragile alpine region; and
launching an environmental education campaign
(see Environmental Cleanup Project).
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We will use a powerful new, archetypally-based peace-mapping model to
create strategies for peace with an international group. This model comes directly
out of the spiritual energy of Altai, through two complementary components:
In the context of the individual and collective experiences in a high mountain
environment, the Peace-Mapping Summit will address the four-part question that emerges
from this model:
What are our “critical paths” to recognition and personal
adaptation of principles of Peace, as outlined in the Tablets of Light,
to each of the Four Quadrants of the Cosmos?
Individually, in small groups, and as a “summit,” we will develop balanced
and comprehensive insights and inspiration for our
continuing peace-building, and then map out our personal “critical paths.” Organizationally,
we will use the Open Space Technology format.
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Day 1: Saturday, July 14
We’ll meet you when you get off the plane in Novosibirsk, transfer you to our roomy apartment
where you can settle in, adjust to the time zone (11 hours from New York), and get acquainted
with the group.
We will also double-check your equipment to make sure that what you have is sufficient for
the conditions. (If not, we will try to help you find appropriate gear in Novosibirsk—but this
is for emergencies only, because the selection is limited and shopping will delay your travel into Altai.)
We'll cook a gourmet group dinner together,
and go to bed early, in anticipation of a long day tomorrow.
Day 2: Sunday, July 15
Breakfast at apartment.
We'll rise early and pack our gear into comfortable mini-buses. Then
we’ll head south into the magic
of the sacred Altai Mountains (about 17 hours driving). We'll arrive very late at a tourist base in the
village of Tyungur, which is the trail-head for our trek.
Lunch and dinner at traditional Siberian roadhouses. Ample healthy snacks on the buses.
Sacred Mt. Belukha is a glaciated, 14,500’ peak, the highest in the vast Altai range that spans
the borders of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, and Mongolia. Lake Akkem, the destination of this expedition,
sits in a lovely valley at the foot of Mt. Belukha, on the north side of the mountain at about
7000’ altitude. (See map.)
Two rivers with a tall ridge between them flow down the north side of Mt. Beluha—Kucherla and Akkem—and
empty into the Katun River. Tyungur is located at the mouth of the Kucherla River.
Tyungur means “shaman’s drum,” and the village is located at about 4000’ altitude,
on the Katun River, which originates on the west side of Mt. Beluha and winds in an S-shape through Altai.
Days 3 and 4: Monday and Tuesday, July 16-17
For the next one and a half days, we will convene a Peace-Mapping Summit, using the resonant Altai energy to clarify
and strengthen our intentions for peace.
Although the Summit was initiated as part of the Expedition, it has taken on a life of its
own. We have invited Altai elders and villagers, local governmental officials, mystics and spiritual groups,
as well as other trekkers.
The Summit will be operated according to amazingly effective Open Space Technology protocols. After
introductions and logistical instructions, the group will self-determine specific topics for small-group brainstorming to chart individual
and collective "critical paths" toward peace.
For the remainder of the first day, and part of the second, we will be fluidly forming and re-forming in these small, self-directed
interest-groups. Proceedings will be documented as part of the process of
each group, compiled, and distributed immediately on floppy-disk or, later, by e-mail We’ll gather in a closing circle
shortly around noon.
Monday afternoon and evening, we will divide into our trekking groups and organize ourselves for the trek.
Meals at tourist base.
Day 5: Wednesday, July 18
Breakfast at tourist base. All meals while trekking are provided.
Today, we will raft easily down the Katun River to the mouth of the Akkem River. Set up camp and cook dinner.
Day 6: Thursday, July 19
We will be trekking for the next five days, traveling about 10 miles per day. You’ll need to
carry only your daytime needs: lunch, jacket, raingear, sunscreen, water bottle, camera, etc.
Today, however, we will wait while the horsemen load our gear for the first time, and then
we’ll have short, easy hike along the east side of the Akkem River.
Day 7: Friday, July 20
Climb up the ridge, following the small Oroktoy River through the Siberian taiga forest,
rich with raspberries, wild strawberries,
red currants and mushrooms, up onto alpine meadows.
The weather will probably be excellent at this time of year—into the 70s in the daytime,
with bright blue skies and at night, the Milky Way will be brilliant. The temperature usually
drops to freezing in the early morning, but everything
warms up quickly as soon as the sun rises over the surrounding peaks. However, a day (or more) of
heavy rain is likely, and snow is possible.
Days 8 and 9: Saturday and Sunday, July 21 and 22
We’ll spend two glorious days hiking through alpine meadows and along stunningly beautiful
ridges offering views of Mt. Belukha and the Altai range, watching eagles float below us in the valleys.
End with a short but steep descent to the Tekelyu River near two wonderful waterfalls.
Day 10: Monday, July 23
Wade (or ride) across the Tekelyu river and hike up across one last pass before descending into the Yarlu valley, where wild edelweiss grow below
brilliantly colored mineral peaks. Cross Lake Akkem by boat and reach the camp where we will spend the next
Days 11 through 14: July 24-27
These wonderful days will be spent camping at Lake Akkem, at the base of Mt. Belukha.
However physically strong and enthusiastic you are, you may find that this resonant
environmentally-induced healing makes you inclined to meditate or sit still in this
beautiful alpine basin, surrounded by glaciated mountain peaks and breathtakingly beautiful
hanging alpine valleys.
- Take quiet walks along the lake, picking a cornucopia of berries, herbs,
and mushrooms in the nearby pine,
birch, and larch forests, or snapping dazzling photographs.
- Take a classical Russian banya (like a sauna),
which traditionally includes cooling off between rounds by dipping in the ice-cold water, and stimulating the
skin by whipping yourself with birch-branches.
- Visit the rock shrines constructed by pilgrims at the head of the lake.
- Have fascinating conversations—not only with members of our group, but also with other
campers around the lake, almost all of whom are spiritual pilgrims, and many of whom speak English.
These people will be very interested in you, because foreigners are rare here.
- Do some practical, hands-on peace-building by taking a turn with a shovel,
to dig a latrine (with a view), as part of our environmental clean-up contribution!
You may up hike into the surrounding alpine valleys with an English-speaking guide. These valleys are sacred,
each more beautiful than the next; and the source of many legends of magical gateways to Shambhala.
- Hike up to the Akkem Glacier, and perhaps to the very foot of Mt. Belukha. This is where the
energy of Altai is most intense. Cross the raging Akkem River on a wire suspension bridge
(great photo op), and
scramble over the house-sized boulders in the glacial moraine. Breathe the ionized air where the
glacial River Akkem
shoots out from under the river of ice.
- A very steep trail opens relatively quickly onto the glorious Akayuk Valley, which holds
seven jewel-like mountain lakes and a wealth of wild-flowers and medicinal herbs. The rare and precious
grows in profusion here. The roots of this plant smell like roses when disturbed, and from them,
a powerful tonic is
brewed. For millennia, Chinese emperors sent emissaries to this valley for this plant.
July 25th is the “Day Out of Time” according to the
13-Moon Mayan Calendar as promulgated by Jose Arguelles. Thirteen months of 28 days make 364 days.
This, the 365th day, is given over to reconciliation, forgiveness, healing, and, most importantly,
celebration! Some members of our group may plan celebratory rituals during the day,
followed by singing and
celebrating as long into the night as you wish.
July 26th is “New Year’s Day” for the Mayan 13-Moon calendar—a day for
focusing on intentions for the coming year.
Days 15-17: Saturday-Monday, July 28-30
By this time, you’ll be fully acclimated to the mountain air, and ready to go up over 10,000 foot
Karatyurek (Black Turk) Pass. (Altai is the homeland of Turkic populations all over Eurasia.) The pass is
frequently cold and windy, so we will dress warmly before we start up the hill.
Our return trip will allow us to gradually ready our bodies and minds for a return
to civilization while we are still in the sacred Altai energy space. This will be a time for
introspection and integration.
From Karatyurek Pass, we will drop down into the beautiful Kucherla River Valley, and follow the river
back to Tyungur.
Dinner on Sunday at tourist base
Day 18: Tuesday, July 31
Breakfast and lunch at tourist base
We will have a full day to relax in Tyungur. In the afternoon, we will have a gifting
ceremony, so bring
a small, spiritually meaningful gift to share with a fellow traveler. Dinner will be
a celebratory feast at the tourist base.
Day 19: Wednesday, August 1
Depart early from Tyungur by mini-bus. Stop for the night at an idyllic tourist base on the Katun River.
(11 hours driving time)
Breakfast at tourist base, lunch and dinner on the road
Day 20: Thursday, August 2
Depart from tourist base for leisurely drive back to Novosibirsk, stopping at a local tourist stand
for Altai souvenirs, artifacts, maps, and music. We'll also try to find some of the legendary
Altai honey for you to take home. Overnight at apartment.
Breakfast at tourist base, lunch on the road, dinner in Novosibirsk.
Day 21: Friday, August 3
Very early morning transfer to airport.
We will spare no effort to make this relatively difficult trip as smooth as possible.
The itinerary is subject to change without notice at the discretion of the tour
operators, for reasons including weather, transportation schedules, new opportunities, etc.
When this webpage is changed, the revision date at the top of the page is updated.
(Italicized items are not included in tour price.)
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While trekking, we will eat really wonderful, healthy food—whole grains and legumes,
fruits and vegetables, cheeses, nuts,
chicken and fish. Wild herbs and salad greens can be picked along the trail. Meal preparation
is a community-building part of the
Bring along your own instant “comfort food” for emergencies.
Please bring your own coffee, tea, sugar, hot chocolate, protein bars, protein drinks, specialized snacks,
and vitamins from the US. Russian chocolate is excellent and readily available. Russian ice cream is
legendary for its richness.
If you have a specialized food needs, you'll need to bring your specialty foods
with you from the U.S. When you register, ask Carol for specific advice.
Meals and options that are not included in the tour price are
italicized in the itinerary (above).
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Cost and Deadlines
21 Days: $3195 from Novosibirsk (visa support and flight from US, ~ $2500 additional). top of page
Horse-back riding supplement $137 (for you to ride—horses to carry equipment are included in
All registrations must be completed and paid in full no later than June 1, 2007.
Environmental Clean-Up Project
Local stewards identified the current most critical needs to be garbage disposal and outhouses, as the number of
trekkers in the area continues to escalate. World Wildlife Fund - Russia has taken the lead in organizing
and funding the clean-up. Our expedition has contributed $1000 toward cost of materials
We may be able to help with construction at Lake Akkem, and are invited to spend an afternoon picking up
garbage around the lake. On our return trek, we will have an
opportunity to pick up garbage in the campsites and
along the trail, that the horses can pack down to Tyungur for disposal.
A regional educational/media campaign is planned in conjunction with the clean-up
to raise awareness and encourage wilderness stewardship.
This simple idea will require a huge amount of work by the locals—governmental permission and
cooperation, preparation and disposal of the transported garbage, purchase of materials, and construction and
installation of outhouses, and garbage collection receptacles—and a substantial amount of money.
If this idea seems valuable to you, please make a contribution of any amount.
We are also seeking grants. World Wildlife Foundation - Russia has offered partial funding, but more will
If you have any contacts with environmental foundations, or would like to help with the grant, please contact Carol
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This is the definitive list. For your own safety and comfort, EVERYTHING on this list is mandatory, except starred (*) items.
I don’t know how to emphasize this enough. We are going into high mountain wilderness,
where conditions can be extreme, and there will be no back-up. If you arrive in Novosibirsk without critically
important equipment, we will attempt to help you purchase it there, but it may delay you in Novosibirsk and add
cost to your trip.
- Please make sure you comply with your airline’s baggage requirements, or be prepared to pay extra fees.
- Put your name on everything.
- Don’t bring anything you can’t afford to lose or have ruined. Avoid down, because it doesn’t
insulate when wet. Avoid cotton for the same reason.
- Silk, cashmere, microfiber, or cotton/poly blends work pretty well against your skin.
- Pack everything in zip-lock plastic bags.
- Make sure you have thoroughly tested, checked, or broken in any new equipment.
- Weather will probably be hot in Novosibirsk, cool en route to Altai. In the mountains, it will probably be warm during the day, and down to
freezing at night. Rain is likely at some point.
- If you have questions about gear, e-mail Carol before June 15th.
(After that, she will be traveling in preparation for the expedition, and her internet access will be sporadic.)
- soft water-repellent backpack or duffel large enough to hold all your gear (or two smaller
duffels. Backpack okay. No wheels. (You can bring everything in a wheeled duffel as far as Tyungur, but
then you’ll need to pack it in something soft.)
- roomy day-pack for daytime needs and airplane carry-on
- warm sleeping-bag—down is not good, it’s too likely to get wet; temperature drops to freezing at night
- foam or air sleeping pad
- 3-season mountain tent if you have one
- 2 mylar space/emergency blankets ($3-4 at any sporting goods store: they make a remarkable difference how warm
you will stay at night. Let Carol know if you can't find them.)
- comfortable medium-duty hiking boots or solid walking shoes, waterproofed
- camp shoes and/or sturdy hiking sandals
- woolen socks—2 pairs (*second pair optional)
- socks and underwear
- t-shirts or undershirts—2
- long-sleeved shirt cotton/poly/nylon, knit or woven—2
- long pants for hiking (nylon or polyester; not cotton)
- comfortable pants for camp
- sweater—light wool or polar fleece
- sweater—warm wool or polar fleece
- fleece vest or second warm sweater
- polar fleece or warm wool pants
- warm hat
- hooded Goretex jacket (*non-Goretex waterproof nylon will suffice if you
don’t plan to hike at all; un-reinforced plastic
is not sufficient)
- waterproof pants (Goretex strongly recommended)
- nylon poncho (plastic is useless because it tears; this second layer of waterproofness is necessary to stay dry
if it rains)
- towel, soap (both for self and clothes), shampoo, tooth-brush, tooth-paste, comb, deodorant, etc. (hint: do not
pack soap near food, because the perfume in the soap permeates plastic and can ruin the food)
- toilet paper or Kleenex—enough for the entire trip
- sunscreen and lipscreen
- pocket knife
- water bottle
- vitamins/medicines/personal first aid kit
- personal snacks and special food needs
- good, lightweight flashlight with new batteries (LED headlamp in the $35 range is
a good investment)
- mug and medium bowl of plastic or metal; large spoon
- emergency whistle
- $3-500 spending money (new bills only, with no marks on them; travelers’ checks are useless;
credit cards unreliable—bring
one anyway, but be sure to let your credit card company know you’ll be traveling in Russia)
- concealed money/passport/ticket pouch
Weather will probably be hot in Novosibirsk and cold en route to Altai.
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- *waist pack for camera, sunglasses, water, etc.
- *lightweight sheet or sleeping sleeve
- *long johns
- *medium-weight mittens or gloves (snow is possible, frosts are likely)
- *shorts or swimsuit
- *watch or small clock
- *notebook and pencils
- *camera & film; videocam
- *~20’ 1/8” rope
- *clothes-pins (4)
- *small mirror
- *waterless hand disinfectant
- *walking stick
- *mosquito repellent/sting-eaz/mosquito-net hat
- *small musical instrument
- *city/travel clothes
- *sweater, shawl, or light jacket for city/travel
- *a good book to read and pass on
- *memento gifts, such as pens, postcards, pins, CDs, crystals—whatever you'd feel comfortable giving
- *business cards
- *a small, spiritually significant gift for a gifting ceremony
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Maps (Click to enlarge)
Eurasiatop of page
Altai; and Beluha
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- Update your immunizations.
- Tick-borne encephalitis is a slight risk in Altai at the time we'll be there. No vaccine is
available in the US. The antiviral drug
iodantipyrin is effective
either preventively or immediately after a tick bite.
It's not available in the US, but is available over-the-counter in Russia. We'll help you get it when
you get there.
- Daytime weather may be hot (with rain showers possible), and nights cool while traveling.
In the mountains, rain is likely, and snow (at night) is possible.
- Bottled water can be purchased in Novosibirsk. We'll bring a water filter for trekking.
- In Novosibirsk, travelers’ checks are not generally accepted, but credit cards are, and cash machines are
available. Money can be readily changed to rubles in Novosibirsk, and not elsewhere. Your bills must be new or near new:
wrinkled, torn, or marked bills will simply be refused—check them carefully. Opportunities will be few to
spend money on items other than food or to replace forgotten trekking gear. Unless you are a big spender,
or are spending extra days in Russia (which can be expensive), I recommend bringing $300-500 plus a credit card,
and changing $200 to rubles.
- Leave jewelry, valuables, and breakables at home.
- Don’t bring your laptop to Altai.
- Public toilets in Russia can be awful, and frequently lack toilet paper. Carry kleenex.
- Be prepared for some mosquitoes and biting flies. Try out your repellent before you pack it, to make
sure that you can tolerate the smell of it. A couple years ago, some independent testing was done of
currently available repellents. DEET is most effective for the longest time, but it is really foul.
However, just as
effective, but for a shorter time is Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent, available from REI.
One 4 oz. bottle is more than enough. Also, Ex Officio has developed a line of "Buzz Off" clothing
in which permethrin insect repellent is chemically incorporated into the threads of the fabric so
it doesn't wash out—pants
shirts, bandanas, hats, and socks. Expensive, but very nice!
- A word to the wise (which all of you, of course, are): Altai is known as a place of high energy and miraculous
healings. We are going to the heart of Altai: Mt. Belukha—the “white mountain.” This will be an
intense initiatory experience: We will all be in this together, and we can come through it with a huge sense of
camaraderie and accomplishment only if we take responsibility for ourselves and face our own shadows, and have
unending tolerance, compassion, and respect for ourselves and for each other. One effect of the high energy is
that people who are normally high-functioning and competent frequently become disoriented and/or irrational.
Another effect is that everyone’s most difficult personal issues (our energy blockages) come to the
surface for healing. So, if someone is irritating you, it is an OPPORTUNITY for YOU. However, if anyone’s
physical health or mental state becomes a substantial risk to themselves or the group as judged by the leaders,
they will be evacuated to a medical facility, and they will be responsible for the cost.
- A word about logistics: This is a group tour—stay with the group. Even if you go looking for a toilet,
make sure someone knows where you are and how long you“ll be. Please do whatever is necessary to be ready
for departures at or before the announced times. You are responsible for double-checking that your luggage
is on your assigned mini-bus. Please help pack and unpack if you are able-bodied. Organize yourself so
fits in your duffel or day-pack.
- Make at least 3 complete photocopied sets of your visa, front page of passport, and airplane tickets
(for expedition organizers, to carry yourself, and to leave with someone at home). Also, bring two extra passport
- Absolutely buy trip insurance—there are many, many uncontrollable variables.
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Questions about Russia can be directed to Carol Hiltner at Carol@AltaiBooks.com
Questions about registration can be directed to Diane Cooper at SolarHeart@aol.com