Travelling from Gorno-Altaisk (the starting point of our trips) to the Altai mountains, we have to go through two passes. Seminskiy pass is the highest pass (1894 m) on the Chuyskiy tract. For 9 km of getting up the steep road, you will be on the border between Northern and Central Altai. The old Altai name for the pass is “Dyal-Menku”. Larch and pine give place to cedar forest and juniper, alpine herbage including some endemic appear here.
In 1956 a monument for the 200th anniversary of Altai entering the Russian Federation on their request was placed on the pass. Early 18th century the inhabitants of the Altai territory were at war with China. The Altai people were facing suppression and asked for Russian citizenship and protection. In 1756 Altai was accepted into Russian state.
Height of Seminsky pass is 1717 meters, ascent length 9 km, descent is 11 km. Road is completely paved. Pass crosses Seminsky ridge between Sarlyk mountain Tiyahty, it is border of Northern and Central Altai. Name "Seminsky" backs to the Mongolian "Sebi" a "fortress". Seminsky pass was hardly impassable at any time of year until the beginning of the XX century. On winter there were impassable snow drifts blown on the saddle by winds. Rains and melting snows eroded trail turning it into sticky mud on summer and on the off-season. Even horses stuck in this muddy unfordable pass. The Altai name is “Dal-Menka”, translated as "Eternal Mountain". The pass was a strategic point for Scythian armies and the Tatar-Mongol hordes over centuries.
In 1956 stele was installed on top of the pass in honor of bicentenary entry the Altai Mountains in Russia. Almost two and a half centuries ago, "zengortsy" or, as historians interpreted, Oirots, Urynkhay went under the protection of Russian fortresses and took Russian citizenship to escape the Qing troops. Today, the sovereign Republic of Altai is the subject of the Russian Federation.
Seminsky Pass is a natural monument of national importance. Road passes several natural zones from deciduous forest ща larch and firs to cedars. Pure cedar forests with high grass, an abundance of bright colors is a characteristic feature of many sub mountain areas of Altai ranges. Cedar taiga with small islands of juniper dominates at the top. Seminsky Pass is on the cross of main wind paths of air masses coming from the west and the northwest. Weather is especially unstable when passing cyclones, which determine wind conditions. Strong winds with snow blowing occur on winter. Blow can reach more than 30-35 m/s. They cause deflation of snow, accumulating it in holes and grooves and forming drifts on Chuya highway. Many trees especially cedars resisting the impulse of the wind, have adapted. They open the crown downwind.
Middle of summer on Seminsky pass is season to watch magnificent picture of flowering of typical representatives of alpine flora: luxurious alpine violets, poppies Grandiflora, goblet blue gentian, asters, pink erythronium, lush zmeegolovnika and other bright colors. Seminsky pass opens amazing view of spaciuos steppe, but sharp rocky peaks of ridges and distant mountains with rough lines remind that that’s only illusion.