Sport activities in Almaty in all seasons: from city tours to extreme
Almaty is a multinational cultural city with a lot of museums, art exhibitions, concerts and festivals. But it is also the most sports city in Kazakhstan. Sport acitivities in Almaty are wide. All year round here, at the foot of the Trans-Ili Alatau mountain range, there are marathons, bike races, competitions among skyrunners, bikers, skiers, snowboarders, delta and paragliders, climbers, hikers, off-road trials and Nordic walkers, which invite thousands of citizens who lead an active lifestyle to take part.
Marathons, Ultra-Marathons and bike routes
The sports year begins with a marathon in the Baum Park, which involves not only runners, but Nordic walkers as well. The summer in Almaty lasts long, and during the warm months there are regular races to take place in the city. The jogging club organise jogging sessions regardless the temperature, and the annual Almaty Marathon is held in April. This is the largest sports event in the Central Asia. Since 2013, the Almaty Marathon has been a member of AIMS and includes six disciplines: the traditional marathon (42 km 195 m), the half marathon (21 km 97.5 m), the satellite race (10 km), Nordic walking (10 km), the Kid’s Race, Ekiden corporate relay race (42 km 195 m) for teams of 6 people.
It is not only the city that attracts people who lead an active lifestyle or in love with extreme sports, but also the trails of the Almaty region. Thus, the Ultramarathon of the Great Steppe is held in the Tamgaly-Tas tract, where boulders with rock carvings of Buddha rise above the River Ili. Here you can ride a bicycle for ten kilometers over the rough terrain. Many motorists have swapped for bicycles, and real fans ride up the road to mountain gorges with a decent rise, where mountain bikers also arrange various competitions.
The route of «The Tour of Almaty» passes through the central streets of the city. This is a two-day cycling race, the second stage of which goes towards Medeu Tract, where at the altitude of 1,700 meters above sea level there is the legendary Medeu open-air skating rink, the water for which is taken from a mountain river. For its smooth ice cover the rink has been called «the forge of records». The bandy world championship has been held here, the audience are regularly admired by gladiators on two wheels — participants of the speedway world cup.
Skating and skiing
Skating competitions were held here as part of the 2017 World Winter Universiade. For the Universiade, other renovated and newly built modern sports facilities, such as Almaty Arena, Halyk Arena and the complex of buildings of the Athletic Village, were also used.
Above the rink, it is where the ascent to the dam begins. There is a beautiful cable road that takes you from Medeu to Shymbulak, an altitude of 2,200 meters. One of the most popular ski resorts is located here, in the Small Almaty Gorge. In the middle of the last century, the slope 3.5 km long was tested by a young skier Alexandra Artemenko. From an early age she skied across the Siberian forest. And after watching the film “Sun Valley Serenade”, with the main character starring on the slope, Alexandra promised herself she would master the ride the same way.
Later, the multiple champion of the USSR, Honored Master of Sports, Honored Alpine Skiing Coach of the Republic of Kazakhstan was called the Host of Shymbulak. And today there is a memorial plate on the facade of the hotel with the name of the first ambassador of the Kazakh SSR to the Winter Olympic Games held in Cortina d’Ampezzo in 1956.
Not far from the city of Talgar, located twenty kilometers from Almaty, in the highlands there is a modern ski-biathlon complex, as well as the Akbulak ski base. If Shymbulak holds international competitions in alpine skiing, freestyle and snowboarding, then for amateur skiers there are slopes available in Tabagan, Almatau, Forest Fairy Tale recreation centres. In Almaty and its surrounding area there are loads of slopes to ride on sleds and balloons as well as spots to do parachute jumping, skysurfing, paragliding formation skydiving, practice BASE jumping, quad rides and off road safari.
Off-road and jeeping
The off-road movement in Almaty was created by the former president of the city motor sport federation Nikolay Maslov, and the bed of lake Sairan in the city center was used to hold an off-road festival in the winter time. Managed by Maslov, the first trophy rides and trophy marathons were held, which have now become a tradition.
Mountaineering, rock-climbing and trekking
The location of Almaty is unique. So To Do lists here is very big. It takes a very short time to get into the endless steppes from the city centre, find yourself on the banks of a deep river or in the area of eternal snow at the foot of four thousand meter peaks. The highest point of the northernmost ridge of the Tien Shan Mountains is the Talgar mountain site.
Peak Talgar (5017 m) rises in the central part of the Trans-Ili Alatau Range, and the Almaty State Nature Reserve is spread across the area of more than 70 thousand hectares. The Trans-Ili Alatau is rich in pine forests, rivers, high-mountain lakes, and tours along the wild paths give tourists awareness of the life of mountains.
In Almaty region there are national wildlife parks. The protected areas are of scientific interest; the ecosystem there has not been altered by human activity, but the routs are open for tourists and there are recreation areas arranged in the premises of the parks. There are forests in the picturesque mountain gorges, as well as mushroom glades nestled in the shadow of the ancient Tian-Shan pine trees, and edelweiss flowers bloom on the alpine meadows. And it is there, where glaciers never melt, the king of high mountains the snow leopard lives. These regal cats and mountain goats do not find hard to hide from groups of tourists that climb along numerous routes.
People developed interest in the snow-white mountain peaks of Almaty region back in the 30s of the twentieth century. In 1930, G. Beloglazov, V. Gorbunov and I. Mysovsky set up a flag at the highest point of Small Almaty Peak. Later, in the Trans-Ili Alatau, the first mass alpine competitions were held, the alpinists’ club was created, training schools were opened, and before the WW2 there were four alpinist camps operating in the area. Today the alpine camp «Tuyuksu» welcomes climbers from the Commonwealth countries.
It takes one day of travelling by car and then by helicopter to reach the highest peak of Kazakhstan — Khan-Tengri (7010 m). One of the most outstanding climbing teams in the world of their time were formed in Almaty on the basis of the Army Sports Club coached by Yervand Ilinsky. In the 1980s, more than a third of the USSR national climbing team consisted of climbers from Kazakhstan. They were participants of both Soviet Himalayan expeditions: in 1982 — Everest along the center of the impregnable South-Western wall, in 1989 — Kanchenjungu, then Soviet climbers were the first in the world to traverse the four eighth-thousand peaks of the third mountain of the planet in two directions.
In 1991, the so-called «Kazakhstan line» was opened in the highest mountains of the Earth the Himalayas. After the country gained independence, the First Kazakhstan Himalayan Expedition announced its readiness to go through the new route along the Western Wall of the eight-thousand peak Dhaulagiri and successfully completed the task. In 1997, the national team of Kazakhstan passed the route to Everest from the north, after which a new goal was set: a group climbing to all the 14 highest peaks of the world.
The Ilyinsky team got renewed, and by 2011, Kazakhstanis were the first in the world to accomplished the program of climbing the mountain giants without using additional oxygen equipment.
Mountaineer Denis Urubko, being a citizen of Kazakhstan at that time, continued the “Kazakhstan line”, following several new routes in the Himalayas with his teammates and alone, winning several “Golden ice axes of Asia” and “Golden ice ax of the world”, and also accomplishing his personal goal «14 «. The winners of the “Himalayan Crown” were also duo Maksut Zhumayev — Vasily Pivtsov.
Adventure lile, Rock climbing, long considered the «younger brother» of alpinism, has become an independent sport known as sports climbing. Almaty residents use artificial climbing walls year-round for training, but every spring in the rocky city located in Tamgaly — Tas Gorge there is a grand rock-climbing festival for children, adults and veterans. Kazakhstani climbers show a high class in international competitions.
Water-sports and rafting
A multi-day regatta along the Ili River is held at the same period, and a day-camp under the Rock Carvings becomes a must-stay for its participants. The whole region, called Semirechye, has become a favorite site of water tourists, and the most rapid rivers host events on extreme rafting and kayaking.
There are three spots to do paragliding in Almaty region. International competitions are held at Ushkonyr Plateau — one of the most famous, the largest of the existing and officially registered spots throughout the CIS. Every weekend, people come here to learn how to fly. The slopes of the spot allow to train new pilots safely, work out training programs on delta and paragliding.
For fans of shooting there are special clubs operating in Almaty and the region, where training is conducted by experienced instructors. You can spend time shooting in a paintball or scout club with laser tag battles and field tactical maneuvers.
Extreme routes in Almaty region often include hiking, open-air sport activities, living in tents. This form of active recreation is suitable for anyone who enjoys travelling, keeping fit and relaxing with the whole family.