An excerpt from

Altai Whitewater Guidebook

Anton Sveshnikov

Lower Bashkaus (‘Book Of Legends’ section)

Put in: Ust'-Ulagan village
Take out: Wooden bridge just above inflow to Chulishman
Length: 105 km (65 miles)
River days: 2–4
Gradient: 8,5 m/km (42 ft a mile)
Volume: 40–60 cms (1400 – 2120 cfs)
Class: V (VI)
Best season: July to beginning of September
Type of the river: Powerful and pushy pool-drop in deep committing gorge 



Summary. Legendary, world-famous section of Bashkaus. One of the most challenging runs in Russia. Dozens of great rapids following one after another with short pools in between. Several must-runs. Crucial specific of this run is committing gorge, which is extremely complicated to escape in case of emergency.

Logistic. Rather good gravel road from Aktash village leads you to Ust'-Ulagan. You can start your paddling directly from the village. However if you have off-road vehicle you can drive downstream to the confluence of Bashkaus and right tributary Pasparta and thus cut some flatwater.

Driving from the take out back to Chuyskiy Highway is the same as from lower Chulishman (see description). Also you can continue paddling to Teletskoe lake.

First 50 kilometres below the put in are almost flat. There are two beautiful gorges without any rapids. This part of the river is known as Middle Bashkaus.

Below the mouth of big left tributary Tuskol the main gorge starts. It is 40 kilometres long and full of rapids. Average gradient there is 13 m/km. In case of emergency it is really hard to escape from it.

The first rapid “Barrikadniy” (Barricade) [1] is located 3 kilometres from the confluence with Tuskol and is easy to recognise it from your boat. This class IV – V rapid will give you some ideas about next part of the gorge. Scouting from the right bank. There is a nasty siphon at the beginning of the right channel. Three pushy class IV rapids located shortly below, then Onish creek comes in on the right. There is nice campspot on the confluence. Also you can escape from the gorge here, hike to Pasparta village is 28 kilometres long.


After 2 kilometres paddling and couple of easy rapids you will reach one of the most interesting rapid of Bashkaus - “Kluchevoy” (The Key or Crucial) [2], class V. Landmarks are obvious: 200-meters long pool, horizon line and reflection from the metal memorial tablet on the left bank at the end of the rapid. Scouting, setting up safety and portaging if needed on the left bank. Climb to the memorial tablet and you will find the first Book of Legends there. Don't forget to put your name on it. During this walk you will scout the next rapid with a lot of holes.

After couple of easy rapids you will reach “Kapkan” (Trap) [3]. In the first part there is narrow 2,5 meters high drop; huge holes and waves in the second part. Scouting from the right. Next rapid is located just 50 meters below. It is “Myasorubka” (Meat grinder) [4] - long, complex and dangerous class V rapid. Scouting and portaging on any bank. “Kapkan” and “Myasorubka” together are the most challenging part of Bashkaus, except landslide rapid at the end of the run.

There is one more rapid with two channels next after “Myasorubka”. Take the right channel, because the left one is full of siphons.

Next rapid “Kamikaze” [5] is must-run, but it is much easier than monster rapids above. You can scout first part from the right bank. At the beginning of the rapid there is popular campspot known as “Kurinaya nodzka” (Chicken leg). You will find the second Book of Legends there. You can't drop out and hike back to Onish and Pasparta village once “Kamikaze” has been descended.

Few powerful class IV – V- rapids lead you to the next class V couple of rapids: “Semeyniy” (Family) [6] and “Upryamiy” (Stubborn) [7]. Landmark is long class IV rapid and Ogozo creek waterfall on the left. Scout “Semeyniy” and “Upryamiy” on the right bank. There is a siphon at the first one. Soon after these rapids you will reach the confluence with right tributary Koniltit. The trail along it follows to Chulishman valley to Koo village. Hike is around 25 kilometres long.

Below the confluence river gradient decreases a little bit, but rapids still keep you on your toes.


The next challenging couple of rapids are “Tesniy” (Narrow) [8] and “Calibre” [9]. Landmarks are cliff wall on the left bank, scree slope on the right and massive rocks in the river. Scout the first rapid from the right bank. You can run “Calibre” on sight. 

Soon you will reach a lake. It was created by massive landslide at the end of 1980th. This landslide also created gnarly class VI rapid “Selevoy” [10]. It starts like easy wavetrain, but getting more complicated gradually, so you have to start portaging in advance, at the end of the lake, above the wavetrain. This rapid was descended few times by bublic and by kayaks in low waterlevel. The trail for portage is located on the right bank. The rapid changes fast and becomes easier every year.

Then you will pass one sticky hole and the confluence with Chebdar river. There are no more rapids below it. After 4,5 kilometres of fast moving water you will reach the take out.


Hazards. The biggest hazard of Bashkaus is flash flood. Check the weather forecast before you go to the river. If it rains for 2-3 days in Ust'-Ulagan, it is better to skip Lower Bashkaus.

Broken or lost boat is also a crucial problem because to get out the gorge can be harder and more dangerous than paddling.

The main rapids of Bashkaus are located one by one almost without pools in between. So swimming is not an option.

If waterlevel is low there are a lot of siphons on the river.


Tip 1. Not so many people know there are two Books of Legends there. Write your name in both!

Tip 2. Some local kayakers run Lower Bashkaus in one day.  If you want to do it you need to know all lines in rapids and be ready for 7-8 hours class V paddling. If it is your first time on Bashkaus river – take your time and don't hurry up!