The Chike-Taman Pass is on the Chuyskiy Trakt. The altitude of the pass is 1460 meters, but due to its steepness its seems to be considerably higher. For those who drive through this pass for the first time it is really breathtaking, with all its steep rises, sharply winding roads, deep cliffs on both sides and astonishing mountain views! Photos do not convey even a hundredth part of your feeling when you move along the mountain serpentine. In the early spring the southern side of the pass is blossoming with yellow Altay tulips, and the sight is stunningly beautiful!
But despite all its beauty, Chike-Taman is translated from Altay language as 'flat sole'.
Back in the past this part of Chuyskiy Trakt was extremely difficult and dangerous for horses. On the saddle of the pass you can see a larch with the white ribbons tied on its branches. This is so-called 'shaman tree'. You can find similar ones at other passes, close to the creeks and springs and in many other places. The travelers used to tie these ribbons as a gratitude to the spirits of the place and in memory of those stayed at home and of those waiting ahead. The new road that we use today was built only recently and now it is hard to imagine that only few decades ago this pass was one of the most difficult and dangerous challenges for the travellers. Today from the top of Chike-Taman you can enjoy a magnificent view of the mountain ranges, the rocks and the winding old road below.
Chike-Taman Pass (Ulengem, «Straight foot») is natural monument of national importance since 1996. Height is 1,460 meters, descent length 4 km. It seems considerably higher because of its steepness. Observation deck allows to see down and upper parts of the road running up to pass.
The road is carved through the granite rocks and forms a serpentine with numerous turns and twists. Chike-Taman Pass lies through narrow north-eastern Terektinsky ridge spur between huge rocks tending vertically up, and deep cliffs on the other side.
Chuiskyi Path, the main highway of Mountain Altai passes through Chike-Taman. The rise of 7 km starts near Khabarovka Village in Ongudaisky region, descent to Kupchegen Village is 4 km.
Passing Chuke-Taman, be aware about rockfall. It often happens after heavy rains or shake of the earth's crust. In this case concrete fence and rolled mountain boulders are provided on the edges of road.
The road passed elsewhere at the beginning of the XX century. Old road used as horse-riding trail, is seen from top of the Pass. Rise of the pass consisted of 34 sharp curves. Ancient road is related to X-XII centuries. Traces of the ancient road are still saved along modern Chike-Taman pass.
Repair of Chike-Taman began in 1924-1925 and finished in 1927. The path laid by the new highway. Road to Chike-Taman was one-sided, with pockets for passing counter traffic, drivers had to signal to each other in advance of approach of oncoming cars. Tracking new road through mountain ridge was truly difficultly huge. Builders had to move more than a million tons of soil, to blow up a dozen rocks to expand road.
A new track on the Chike-Taman was opened in 1984, it is good asphalted two-lane road now. However, old road is preserved, and it is said still possible to pass. Old and new roads are connected at the top of Chike-Taman.
The northern slopes of Chike-Taman are completely covered by rhododendron. Yellow tulips bloom on the southern slopes in the early spring. Both sides of the pass are filled with rare larch forest and a variety of shrubs. Shady slopes are overgrown with moss and Badane. Also one can meet Altai honeysuckle, willow, meadowsweet. Edelweiss flowers looking like huge down stars at the top of the Chike-Taman.
Larch with numerous tired clothes on it is «shaman-tree» on saddle of Chike-Taman. Such trees can be met on passes, near sources and streams, which in the Altai Mountains can be seen in the passes, from streams and springs. Travelers have long ribbons tied in place thanks to the spirits and in memory of those who stayed at home, and who is ahead. Travelers tied ribbons in memory who stayed at home, and who is ahead, thanking to the spirits. Since May 2012, campaign «Save Altai» to clean up the pass of inscriptions left by tourists is regularly realized. The action is attended by residents of Khabarovka, Kupchegenya, Ini Villages, members of rural communities and Ongudai District Council.
Experienced travelers, a lovers of nature of the Altai Mountains believe «real» mountains start after the Chike-Taman Pass only. There are not comfortable bases with bars, no discos and organized tours. Indeed, settlements and tourist complexes are much less after passing the Chike-Taman. Traveler tracks a route himself and nothing disturbs to enjoy pure beauty of wayfarers picturesque valleys, rocks, rivers and lakes of various shapes and colors.