SPELEOLOGIKAL EXPEDITION. CANYONS OF KOK-KIY. August - September

Canyons Kok-Kya – Baibiche-Too projects. August, 18th – September, 1st

Canyons of the Kok-Kya river are formed in the northern foothill of the most extended in Kyrgyzstan, enormous mountain range Kokshaal-Too. The range is the border between China and Kyrgyzstan and it spreads out more than 500 km long from the southern terminus of Fergana Range in the west and wedges into the system of Central Tien-Shan in the east.

These places are still characterized by virgin and wild nature. There are almost no tourists. During the period of the Soviet Union this region was situated within border zone, where it was impossible to get without special pass. Despite the collapse of the Soviet Union, the pass is also needed nowadays to come into this karst region. There are no mobile communications, roads and infrastructure. The main population are summer camps of cattlemen.                                                 

The main canyon of Kok-Kya river with its meanders is spectacular beautiful landscapes with upland of Kapshagai area. But besides this canyon there are more enormous canyons for these places in the east like Aksai-Uru and Karator.

Three previous speleological expeditions Bulgarian, Lebanese and Britain and Swiss couldn’t entirely study Kok-Kya canyon.

This karst region is difficult to access both in geographical and geomorphological concern. Hostile terrain and climate conditions are the main factors which cause difficulties for previous expeditions. That’s why short terms of expedition and also practical absence of roads didn’t allow to explore vertical walls of Kok-Kyai canyon.

All the expeditions worked either on upland or comparatively easy to get slope of river-valley. During Bulgarian expedition of 2010 29 caves were discovered. The most extended of them has the length of about 133 meters. During Lebanese expedition 2017 on the massif Sary-Beles in the district of Kol-Suu lake the cave Bears lair was discovered, which length was about 350 meters.

All the caves have hydrothermokarst genesis. Additional formations are in the shape of crystals and dropstones. There are longstanding ice bodies in the shape of crystals and stalagmite. Many cave galleries in some narrow places are blocked by ice plugs and behind them the cave galleries develop further. 

The longest cave which was found in 1977 is situated in one of the parts where the river mianders in the narrow rift formed with vertical calciferous canyon walls, which height is 300-400 meters.

The cave was explored by geologists on 700 meters where the rest of the way was blocked with ice plug. But geologists confirm that behind there is a further way to cave behind the ice plug. The cave remained unexplored. Three expeditions tried to find it but the lack of time and heavy to access didn’t allow to do it.

Aksai-Uru and Karator canyons situated to the east of Kok-Kya have never been explored by speleologists. The height of calciferous walls reaches 500 meters. Their walls seem inaccessible. But if you come over the uplands which situated to the east of Karator canyon there will be opportunity to explore it.

Once in the past geological epochs devonian and carboniferous limestones were broken by the magma which later turned into granite remains. As a result of the breakthrough, hot fluids leached limestone and broke through to the surface of the earth leaving behind numerous underground galleries. When the solutions cooled, mineral forms began to form in the form of crystals and other forms. When the mountains continued to rise, the river developed deep canyons in limestone strata, and many entrances to the caves were high on the walls.

The absolute heights of this karst area are more than 3000 meters. The main river into which flows Kok-Kya, which forms a high-mountain valley, is the Ak-Say river.

This karst area is the Kyrgyz Pole. The average temperature in the summer is from 15 to 25 degrees. In winter, up to - 40 degrees. The most favorable period is August and September, when the practical absence of rains and warm days will allow much more fruitful research in the canyons. The most important factor, which makes it possible to conduct effective speleological research in the canyons - is the low water on the rivers. When there is little water in the riverbeds and you can cross them on foot.

Goals and objectives:                                                                                                                                 

1. Speleological research of canyons Kok-Kya, Aksai-Uru and Karator.

2. Search for new caves, inspection of entrances at different altitude levels on canyon walls.

For expeditions to this karst area, it is necessary to use off-road vehicles of high terrain, such as ZIL-131 (a former military vehicle). The base camp is planned to be located in the canyon of the Kok-Kya river. It is planned to use horses to cross rivers.

Limestone district Baibiche-Too

Within the framework of this expedition, it is planned to explore an alternative karst area on the Baibice-Too mountain ridge. From a logistics point it is convenient, because the expedition will use out-of-road transportation. The climatic conditions are significantly different from the previous region. The absolute height of the Baibice-Too karst area is about 2000-2500 meters. The height of the mountain range reaches 5000 m. The air temperature in the summer period is from 20 to 35 degrees, in winter from -20 to +5. The range extends from the northeast to the south-west. Its length is more than 100 km. The ridge is composed of limestones of Carboniferous age. The nearest town of Naryn is located at the very north-eastern edge of the ridge.

The characteristic features are that the karst areas of the Baibiche-Too are composed of gray massive limestones of the lower carbon (С1). The thickness of limestone above the surface of the valley reaches up to 1000 m. Hydrogeological conditions of carbonate massifs vary widely. The main type of water is karst and fissure-karst. Places of discharge of springs are mainly concentrated in river valleys, in the form of numerous descending, rarely rising springs with a rate of 1-10 liters / s. Sometimes the consumption of karst springs reaches 25 liters / s. Areas of water absorption are on the area of distribution of carbonate rocks. The thickness of zones of vertical water circulation almost coincides with the thickness of limestone strata (600-700 m).

The indicator experiments conducted by us (fluorescein indicator) showed that the water velocity in intensively fractured and karstic zones reached high values. According to the chemical composition of water, hydrocarbonate, calcium, hydrocarbonate.

 In the north-eastern part of the limestone massif four caves discovered by geologists in 1974 are known. Caves are not explored. On separate plateaus were found karst funnels with narrow ponoras.

Having received the permission of the State Agency for Environmental Protection, as well as local authorities for carrying out research expeditions, our fund plans to begin speleological studies in these karst areas: the canyons of Kok-Kya and the mountain limestone massif Baibice-Too as early as 2018.

The best option when one expedition will work consistently in two districts.                                                                                  

The speleological expedition to the Kok-Kya canyons and the Baibice-Too mountain range is planned August 18 - September 1, 2018. All interested speleologists can take part in the research.

For research in these areas, the options are suitable for both a single team and an international team.

The most optimal option in terms of logistics and cost, as well as remoteness of the area, the team should be at least 8-10 people.

Goals and objectives:

1. Speleological research on karst areas of the Baibiche-Too mountain massif.                                                                                                                                  

2. Search for new caves.                                                                                                                                                                                              

3. Search and research of karst funnels on separate plateaus.                                                           

4. Investigation of famous caves, which are known to the locals.

The cost of participation is determined by the number of participants, as this determines the cost of logistics and all other services for the maintenance of the base camp and the expedition as a whole.

The price includes all equipment for the base camp (tents, tents and kitchen equipment, generator, etc.), car rental, payment to the cook, issuance of permits, consumables (gasoline for the generator, gas, etc.), organization.

If the number of participants is more, then the cost for participation in the expedition will be less.

The maps show the contours of the karst area where speleological research is planned.