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Mountain systems

Mountain systemsThe Caucasus mountain system extends along the northeast coast of the Black Sea almost for 1000 km. The border between Georgia and Russia goes through the Main Caucasian Mountain Ridge. Some central peaks are 5000 metres high. The relief here is rather broken: sharp ridges, peaks, steep rocky mountainsides. Two ancient volcanoes: Elbrus (5642 m) and Kazbek (5033 m) join the Ridge in the North. The Caucasian volcanoes are dead for a long time now, and only accurate cone-shaped forms, and hot gases shows on Elbrus flanks remind of their volcanic origin. Besides there are plenty of mineral springs, the most prominent are: 'Narzan', Borjomi', 'Kardamon', 'Essentuki'. Well-known health resorts are situated nearby.

The Caucasus is a treasury of clean air and landscapes of rare beauty. These mountains are rather high, you can observe the whole variety of a mountain relief here. Glaciation area of the Caucasian mountains is the biggest among all mountain of Russia. Melted snow waters supply numerous rivers, the largest of them - the Kuban and the Terek Rivers.

Many long years the Caucasus has been a favourite place of rest of all climbers, mountain tourists and mountain skiers of our country. Great number of sportsmen mountaineer the highest peak of Europe - the Elbrus. Other peaks are not so high but also respected by many climbers. The beautiful Uzhba Peak is among them. Difficult routes are laid to its top point. The magnificent Shhelda Peak and a chain of 5000-metres peaks of the Bezengiysk Wall (12 km long) are also noteworthy. Many mountaineering camps are located in the heads of the valleys, there are mountain-skiing bases in Teberd, Dombai and Pre-Elbrus territory. Today tourist opportunities of the Caucasus are highly competitive and may be compared with that of the Alpes.

The Khibins are located in the Kola Peninsula, behind the Northern Polar Circle. These mountains are very old, they have remained mountains during billion years while other parts of the earth's crust were rising and falling, and the sea advancing and receding, leaving young sedimentary rocks on the surface. Sedimentary rocks are rare in the Khibins while the age of the most ancient abyssal ones is more than 1,5 billion years. Mountain tops here look like wide and flat plateaus. The highest point - Chasnachorr Mountain rises above the sea level at 1191 m.

These low toy-like mountains still have all elements of a mountain relief. Slide-rocks combined by huge ancient stones, rocky mountain sides and snowy areas (where snow does not melt even in summer), narrow passes leading from one valley to another. And the rivers here are alike real mountain ones but not so fast and dangerous as in high mountains. It is a good place for amateur tourists to start! Here you can enjoy real mountains without considerable risk.

Summers in the Kola Peninsula are short - a month, hardly two, vegetation is rather poor. Foothills (up to 320-420 m) are occupied by pine and fir woods full of mushrooms and berries in summer time. There are a lot of swamp areas here. Decumbent pines can be met at 400-metres height. Fir groves are above pine forests, in dry places among fur-trees you can find small crooked birches. Above them - only small decumbent birches, berries, osier and juniper bushes. At the height of 500 m any wood vegetation ends. Reindeer moss is the only vegetation of mountain tundra which is full of mosquitoes in summer time.

The mountains of the Southern Siberia form a mountainous country in the south of Siberia, including the Altai, Salair, Kuznetsk Ala Tau, Western and East Sayan mountains, mountains of Tuva, Pre-Baikal mountains, Transbaikalia, Stanovoi Range, as well as vast intermountain troughs: the Kuznetsk, Musinsk, Tuva, Todzhinsk trough. The Altai consists of mountain ridges that form a watershed of the Ob, Irtysh, Yenisei and the rivers of the Central Asia. Total length of Altai - over 2000 km. It is divided into Altai itself, the Gobi Altai and the Mongolian Altai. The highest ridges of Altai are: the Katun Ridge, the Northern and Southern Chu Ridges. Their height reach 3000-4000 m (the highest point -Belukha Mountain 4506 m). Total glaciation area - more than 900 square km). 1500-2500 m ridges and massifs with poorly divided crests are also typical of Altai. They are separated by intermountain hollows that are named 'steppes': the Chuyskaya Steppe, Kurayskaya Steppe and others.

The Ural Mountain System almost follows the meridional line somewhat to the south from the Kara Sea coast. Its length is more than 2000 km, width - from 40 up to 150 km. It consists of the main watershed ridge and several side ridges divided by wide lowerings. We distinguish the Polar Ural, Pre-Polar Ural, Northern Ural, Middle Ural and Southern Ural. The highest point - Narodnaya Mountain (1895 m).

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