Alatajsky Pass, The Road That Has It All

Alatajsky Pass is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 1.792m (5,879ft) above the sea level, located on the boundary between Kurshim and Katonkaragay districts of East Kazakhstan Region in the eastern part of the country.

Alatajsky Pass

Set high within the Katon-Karagaisky State National Nature Park, in East Kazakhstan, the road to the summit, also known as Altai Pass, is totally unpaved across the Sarym-Sakty Range. It's called Austrian Road. It’s 108km (67 miles) long, running north-south from Enbek (on Highway P-163) to Moyildy. A 4x4 vehicle is required. This road should not be travelled alone. Before setting off make sure you have enough food and water. Since the area is very remote, be ready to spend the night in a tent.

This unpaved road was built as a strategic then transport corridor through the territory of modern East Kazakhstan region. It was built from 1915 to 1917 by Austro-Hungarian WW1-prisoners (Czech, Slovak, Austrian, and Hungarian) captured on the Eastern Front. With the help of nothing more than shovels, saws, pickaxes and cables, they created a legendary track through a remote wilderness in the far northeast of Kazakhstan, under highly unfavorable climatic conditions. This road can be considered as a memorial to the heroic labor of man, who at that time managed to create this monument with only the help of simple tools - shovels and picks. The Austrian road is a unique natural historical treasure. Please don’t attempt to ascend the pass when it’s raining – the road can be extremely dangerous. Set high within the Katon-Karagaisky State National Nature Park, following the Sorvenok Valley, it’s a really difficult road, crossing 16 bridges and fords and never ending hairpin turns.
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