Lake Teletskoye or Altyn-Köl, which means “Golden Lake” is a beautiful, large and very deep (up to 325 meters) lake in the Altai mountains.
The size of the lake is 78 km by 5 km and is surrounded by two mountain ridges, named Korbu and Al-Tyntu, at this location the Altai mountains and the Western Sayans come together. Its surface area is 233 sq. km, but because it is quite deep (325 m), the lake has up to 40 km³ of fresh water. The lake has very transparent water which makes that you can look from six to fourteen meters deep.
Lake Teletskoe is the largest and the most beautiful in Altai. Locals call it Altyn-Kel – Golden Lake. It got its name from Telesian inhabitants according to legends. A famine was throughout Altai. One Kalmyk had a large gold bullion, but passing around the entire Altai with his treasure, he could not buy a single piece of bread. Then he threw his ingot into lake and perished in its waves.
Teletskoe Lake sits at the height of 436 meters (1,424 ft), among high mountain ranges in the middle of deep taiga, surrounded by ridges Korbu and Al-tyntu on the crossing of the Sailughem Mountains and the Western Sayans. Teletskoe is a lake of tectonic origin, has 325 meters depth, 80 km length and 3,2 km width, as estimated. That makes it the second largest Lake in Russia, just after the Baikal.
Teletskoye Lake district has a very changeable weather. Perfectly cloudless day can be changed to a shower during 2-3 hours, and then comes back again. The winds are unpredictable. It can blow from four directions at the same time!
The lower reaches of Chulyshman River, Teletskoye Lake and upper reaches of Biya River form narrow and deeply embedded in high mountains a single valley. This is effective protection against south-westerly winds. Local winds blowing through the valley have a significant effect. It use a narrow valley as a kind of wind tunnel. South wind called "verkhovka", brings a clear cloudless weather, dry air of high mountains, warmed on a path through rocky gorges of Chulyshman River. Northern wind coming along Biya River called "Nizovka" brings humid air, summer rains and winter snowfalls from carrier of northern foothills of Altai.
Teletskoye Lake evaporates a lot of water, and saturated air moves by wind to the north of the lake along Biya River or by wind to the south along Chulyshman River. Moist air is not wasted on large areas of plain unlike steppe lakes do. Evaporated moisture is large amount enough to mitigate rough frosty winter.
Teletskoye lake freezes only at the end of winter even in the frosty years in the Altai.
As a result of these phenomena, microclimate of down Chulyshman River and Teletskoye Lake shore, unlike Siberia and Altai climate, is not a continental. It can be attributed to temperate climate, typical for mountain and lowland areas of north-west coast of Europe.
Yailyu village is the warmest winter place and most humid summer. The amount of rainfall reaches 800 mm for a year. The average temperature - 9.2 C in January,and average July temperature is only + 16.6 Celsius.
Teletskoe LAke is as powerful, as it is mysterious. Civilization passed by the Teletskoe and it outskirts. Northern part of the Lake is poorly inhabited, for 2 villages – Artybash and Yogach, as well as tourist camps, are located here. Many paths of active routes lie in the area of Lake Teletskoye. Village Artybash, where the road ends, becomes a kind of tourist attraction in the summer months.
All shores around lake are absolutely virgin wild. Mighty forest present itself as an impassable windbreak, where narrow path is hardly seen. An age-old cedars which age may indeed be hundreds of years old grow proudly. Miraculous atmosphere of silence and peace is only disturbed by birds singing and plenty streams murmuring, when forming waterfalls. Deep taiga presses the Lake still kept steady time around. Shores are steep almost everywhere, mountain sides are drown into transparent water, which allows to see the bottom even through the entire water depth. Mountain chains around the Lake has 2500 meters altitude, there is not even a single path along the shores, so people use a boat to get from one village to another. Thus, the impassable shores provide an opportunity for the outstanding variety of flora and fauna. Eastern coast of Lake Teletskoe is the part of Altaisky Natural Reserve which is under protection of UNESCO's World Natural Heritage Sites. The territory is inhabited by 70 mammal species, more than 300 bird species and 1500 species of plants.