Katu-Yaryk pass is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 1.188m (3,897ft) above the sea level, located in Altai Republic, in Russia. The road to the summit is extreme. Only 4x4 cars. Due to the 35% gradient sections, gravel loose and the lack of protections, the road is one of the scariest drives in the world.
The pass, also known as Katy-Yaryk pass, is the gate to the Chulyshman valley, the warmest place in the Altai Mountains. It’s a real challenging road and a true test of your vehicle and your stamina because the road abounds in twists and turns with wheels sometimes hanging above the precipice. For 3,5 kilometres of an earth serpentine road it is necessary to overcome 9 turns and 800 metres of height. It is possible to go down the pass by any car and to ascend only by a four-wheel drive. The road continues at the valley and leads to the southern part of Teletskoye Lake.
The road encompasses miles of stunning views through twisty hair pin corners, high elevations and steep grades. The road to the pass goes in the distant from the Chuiskiy trakt, through the scenic Ulagan plateau with thick taiga and numerous lakes. From the view point at the pass a breathtaking view opens at the emerald green Chulyshman, waterfalls and a zigzag of only car road to the valley. In 1987 a director of sovkhoz Arseniy Sanaa offered to build a car road to the Chulyshman valley. Three bulldozers were building the serpentine road during two years. It made better the life of local people, who could get the valley earlier only on the steep path or through Teletskoye Lake. In the honor of A. Sanaa the main street in Ulagan village is called. In 2001 the road was widened and it became possible for two cars to pass one another at turns. In 2011 the building of a new safe road from the pass started at the place of the old horse path.
The road is winding, in some places only wide enough for one vehicle, and in many places bordered by a drop of hundreds of meters (many hundreds of feet) unprotected by guardrails. This is an extreme road that you won’t forget. It’s not a well maintained gravel road, serpentine with small ups and downs. The slope is nearly 70% (35 °). The height of the foot - 800 m, length - 3,5 km, 9 turns, the average slope - 18% (10 °), covering - soil, rocks. This pass is suitable for transport with good cross-country ability. Avalanches, heavy snowfalls and landslides can occur anytime and can sometimes block some sections of the road, being extremely dangerous due to frequent patches of ice. There are no any fences but several side lanes for oncoming cars. During the rainy season landslides narrow roadway with large stones. During this period the pass is closed for a few days until the repair team with a bulldozer arrives from Aktasha. The lower section of the road is a straight road (1km) with a slope of 28 degrees. Brakes should be fully functional.
The weather on this zone is harsh and highly unpredictable and it does not take much time for the bright sun shine to change over to moderate to heavy snow fall. A sudden drop in the temperature, even in summer, can trigger winter-like conditions. From the pass through to Balykcha - 76 km, the road is gravel along the left bank of the river Chulyshman, without difficult sections of road, except for a few small rivers that should be crossed in the shallow of the river. Cars should be 4 wheel drive.
Pic: Оксана Г