Gorges of Trans-Ili Alatau: Kaskelen

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Some people associate origin of the name Kaskelen with the name of some Kazakh clan. But in the dictionary of professor Gorbunov, you can find another explanation. Kaskelen – Kaska alan - Bald area. Place-name indicates that here, in the Ile Alatau, abundance of coniferous forests ends and gorges located further to the west (including Chemolgan, Uzunkargaly, Karakastek and Kastek) have no longer large amounts of Tien- Shan spruces.

Until recently, Kaskelen gorge remained aloof from the mass rest; the most loyal guards of our nature - poor roads and lack of public interest in local lore were the reasons for that. But recently, at least one reason (transport) was eliminated and camp of unselfish guards decreased by half. So it is quite possible that in the near future gorge would justify its "bald" name.

Meanwhile, the gorge is not disfigured yet by obsessive love of tourists and could become a model of civilized attitude towards the surrounding. It would be enough to declare it free of cars zone, and to announce a ban on construction of any trade stalls in protected areas. Only this will save Kaskelen gorge from the influx of the most harmful visitors. But here are still things to admire: virgin coniferous forests, fragrant alpine meadows and little undeveloped peaks, among them are unknown four-thousanders like Okzhetpes, Akkum, Tur; I am sure that they can attract here many true lovers of mountain recreation.

Breaking out from the gorge, the river forms a thick layer of silt - "debris cone", where regional center, one of the oldest settlements of Trans-Ili region, stands; it has the same name. City Kaskelen is overgrown Cossack village Lyubovinskaya; it appeared on the maps in 1858, to protect Verny city from the most troubled by a hostile Kokand khanate side. When the war threat has passed and the border of the Russian Empire moved far to the west, the settlement started growing, and by the beginning of XX century here lived one and half thousand inhabitants. Kaskelen received status of the city during the Soviet era - in 1963.

Geographic information:

Kaskelen gorge is located on the west of Almaty. Kaskelen is the largest river flowing from the Trans-Ili Alatau to the north. Chemolgan, Aksay, and both Almatinka are its tributaries. Length of the river is 177 kilometers (but you can find another figure - 135 km), it flows out of the glaciers at an altitude of 3.5 kilometers and flows into Kapshagan Reservoir, near the gambling capital of the republic - the city Kapshagay. The collecting area is 4,306 km2 , and the average flow rate at the outlet of the mountains is 4.01 m3 per second.

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