8. SPECIAL PROJECT - RESEARCH OF KARST AND THE CAVES OF MOUNTAIN BAYSUN-TAU, July 25 - 9 August and August 7 - August 22. Dates are preliminary
Special project - a study of the karst and caves of the Baysun-Tau mountain range
The Baysun-Tau mountain range in Uzbekistan is the south-western spur of the Gissar Range. The length of the range is about 150 km; the maximum height is 4424 m. The range is composed of limestone, sandstone, and clay of the Mesozoic age. Most of the carbonate "pie" is composed by carbonate limestone. On the slopes of the range originates the river Ak-Darya. The lower parts of the slopes are covered with semi-desert vegetation; above, there are forests of juniper and alpine meadows.
Despite previous studies of the karst region by speleologists from different countries, the vast karst area is still poorly studied today. For the first time, English speleologists visited the area, discovering the famous Dark Star cave.
The complexity of speleological research lies in the geographical farness of the karst area, complex logistics and a significant absolute height of more than 3,500 meters above sea level, where the entrances to the caves are located.
On the neighboring mountain range are known large cave systems:
- Boy-Bulok, Festivalnaya-Ledopadnaya (length 13 km, depth 625 m),
- Ural cave(length 2500 m, depth 565 m), and others.
The Boy-Bulok Cave is the deepest cave in Asia, formed in the limestone of the Surkhan-Tau mountain range. (the southern continuation of the Gissar Range in Uzbekistan), with a depth of 1415 meters, and a length of more than 14 km. (the southern continuation of the Gissar Range in Uzbekistan), with a depth of 1415 meters, and a length of more than 14 km. The entrance is located almost at the very watershed of the range (below the ledge of the large plateau ledge). The cave is formed along a stratigraphic contact of limestone layers that are inclined to the north. The cave is complicated by shallow narrow wells and eventually ends in a siphon.
According to geological conditions, the depth of the caves in this area can reach more than 2500 m.
The Baysun-Tau Range is located in the very south of Uzbekistan. The natural conditions of the area are caused by a sharply continental climate. In the flat part, summer is very hot, dry and sunny, as you get closer to the mountains the temperature lowers. Winter is warm and short. The closest populated places are: Dinau, Sherabad, Termez. The average air temperature in July in the area of Dinau is +28 ° С, in Sherabad is +32 C. In summer, the temperature in Termez can reach + 50 ° С.
The amount of precipitation in the foothill part ranges from 500-650 mm per year, and up to 800 - 900 mm per year in the high-mountain part of the range.
This karst area became so popular in the media because of the “Dark Star” cave that was discovered here. The entrance was first discovered in 1984 by Russian geologists, but the first speleologists were the British who visited the entrance and a part of the cave in 1990. The entrance is located on the Khoja-Gur-Gur-Ata massif, which is part of the Baysun-Tau range.
The entrance to the cave is located at an absolute altitude of 3,700. The entrance height is 60 m; width is 7 m, which is located at a height of 160 m from the base of the wall. The cold walls of the cave are covered with icy crystalline forms almost throughout its length, there you can also see many frozen lakes and the air temperature goes from 2 to -5 degrees.
Many cave systems, discovered in previous expeditions, formed in limestone massifs, united in the Baysun-Tau mountain system, can be combined into complex underground labyrinths. During the exploration of the Dark Star Cave, speleologists combined several previously known caves into a single 17.5 km and a depth of 908 m. If you find new underground passages, you can combine the Dark Star Cave with the Festival Cave, as well as other caves into a single underground system more long than 40 km.
But besides the Dark Star Cave and other caves, the karst region of the Baysun-Tau mountain range remains mostly unexplored and very promising for new speleological discoveries.
The huge area of the Baysun-Tau range, consisting of several mountain massifs, hides the most inaccessible and deepest caves of Asia. The entrances to the caves are located on vertical limestone walls that cut off the mountain plateau with an amazing five hundred meter cliff on one side and deep canyons tearing off a plateau on the other.
The main difficulties for all previous expeditions were the remoteness and closeness of the area. High altitude, harsh climate and large cave systems, which did not allow until the end of the study.
Our Foundation, together with our colleagues from Uzbekistan, plans to explore the limestone karst areas of the Baysun-Tau range. This requires a good and physically trained team of speleologists. The high absolute height of the area requires considerable physical effort and good organization to ensure the safety of the speleological studies.
Currently, the political situation in Uzbekistan has become very favorable for visiting, as well as the border areas of the country.
It is possible that it is in this part of the Euro-Asian continent and the whole world where speleologists will study the deepest, longest and most interesting cave system.
The caves of this region are not only of scientific interest, but also of interest from the point of view of the possibilities of being and working in extreme physiologically difficult and harsh underground conditions.
Objectives and goals:
- Search and study of caves in the unexplored Bel-Auty mountain range
- Biological research
- Geological and other studies
Interested speleologists and scientists can contact our foundation at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Expedition dates can be changed. If the group is one - from one club, association, federation, then the group has the right to change the dates of the expedition. If the group is mixed, then we rely on our capabilities and the capabilities of the majority of potential participants. At the moment we have indicated the most favorable season of the year according to the climatic conditions in a particular geographical area.
The deepest caves of Asia are concentrated right here on the Baysun-Tau mountain range.
One of the majestic Baysun-Tau ranges, the Khodja-Gur-Gur-Ata range, rises above the surrounding relief and rar mountain villages. Its length is more than 100 km from south-west to north-east. Tectonic processes raised limestone formations to an altitude of more than 3,500 m above sea level, forming a vast inclined plateau in the north-west, which ends in a cliff almost 500 m high in the south-east.
About 30 famous caves are known here. Here are some of them:
- Boy-Bulok - the deepest cave in Asia. The cave entrance is located almost under the edge of the plateau. The depth is 1415 m, the length is 14,270 m. The main entrance is inclined along the limestone layers. The cave ends in a siphon.
- Dark Star - was discovered by Russian geologists, and was first investigated in 1990 by the English speleologists group "Aspex 90". The air temperature inside the cave goes from -2 to -5 degrees. The length of the cave is 17,400 m, the depth is - 908 m.
- Uralskaya, Length - 2500 m, depth - 565 m.
- Festivalnaya, Length - 16200 m, depth - 625 m.
The study of the Dark Star cave was resumed in 2012 by speleologists from Yekaterinburg. Thanks to this cave, the area became known for speleologists, the karst region has gained international fame. During this time, the cave may have reached its maximum.
While speleologists’ rare expeditions explored the south-western part of the wall of the Khodja-Gur-Gur-Ata ridge, the north-eastern part of the mountain range was not accessible to people. Only the military could be here, as the area is located near the borders of Tajikistan and Afghanistan. Today the situation has changed and the area is becoming accessible for both, tourists and speleologists.
20 km to the south of Khodja-Gur-Gur-Ata, there is another range similar to its northern stone neighbor, which forms the same inclined plateau and vertical cliff, facing south. But, this attractive area can become an object of research in future speleological expeditions.
The Karst district of Baysun-Tau is huge. But, we want to focus on the Bel-Auty site, which is similar to the neighboring, already explored sites, and which is the northeast continuation of a single mountain range, where the deepest caves are already known.
We plan to explore the 30-kilometer north-eastern part of the limestone wall and plateau, which was previously a closed area. From the small mountain village of Bakhcha, the edge of the plateau with a breaking wall is already visible. From here begins the path to an unknown limestone area.
Because of its remoteness from civilizations, the area remains inaccessible. The local environment has made the life of people very harsh. But despite this, people remain hospitable.
On the way of our expedition, 50 km from the small town of Denay, there is another interesting cave - Khodzhaipak, from which a large creek with warm hydrogen sulfide water flows. Water flow rate, about 20 liters per second. In the cave it smells noticeably of hydrogen sulfide and people are afraid to go deep. As usual, locals say that the cave goes far. Previously risky attempts were made to go deep into the cave. But narrow spaces, hot air and the acrid smell of hydrogen sulphide interfered with all brave men.
Near the village of Bakhcha (the beginning of our journey to a high plateau) there are 4 groups of multi-jet waterfalls Sangardak. Streams of water burst from the holes in the limestone wall to the surface. Above the waterfalls, at a height of 2500, there is a karst plateau. No one has ever worked in the area. Perhaps at the top, on the plateau there are entrances to the caves, which serve as accumulators of water flows, forming a large hydrogeological system, ending with the formation of waterfalls.
To explore the area you need a strong and experienced team of speleologists. Therefore, the area also remains unknown from the point of view of other areas of speleology: such as biology, archeology, geology, and others.
The most favorable time for the expedition is July-August -September.
For fruitful and effective work, it requires at least 15 days and more than 10-12 people. To deliver the cargo, we will need a caravan of donkeys and horses. But first we need to find a place for the base camp on the inclined slopes of the mountain.
The expedition route starts at the airport in Tashkent, from where we have to get to the town of Dinau by train and then by car to the mountain village of Bakhcha. Here is the start of an extreme expedition. For the delivery of equipment, food, gasoline and other luggage, under a vertical limestone wall and on a limestone plateau, we plan to use local donkeys. Of course, local guides will point us to the plateau and show some entrances to the caves.
Speleological studies in Baysun-Tau are becoming a new period in the history of world speleology, when the pole of the deepest underground exploration moves to Central Asia.
Therefore, we invite international teams of speleologists, clubs and associations, to explore unknown karst areas of the Baysun-Tau mountain range in southern Uzbekistan.
Expedition program (preliminary)
Day 1 . Arrival in the city of Tashkent. This is usually Turkish Airlines or Aeroflot.
Next, on the night train transfer to the city of Denau.
Day 2 . Arrival in the city of Denau. Next at cars to the village Bakhcha (70 km). On the way stop at Sangardak waterfalls. Overnight in the guest house. Hire donkeys, meeting local guides.
Day 3 . Rising on a plateau using donkeys. "Caravan of donkeys"
Days 4-12 . Work on the plateau, on vertical walls and in the vicinity
Day 13. Descent to the village Bakhcha. Overnight in the guest house.
Day 14 . Moving by night train from Denov to Tashkent,
Day 15 . Arrival in Tashkent
Day 16. Early in the morning departure home.
For those who want to make a tour in the ancient city of Samarkand
Day 14 . Transfer by train to the city of Samarkand
Day 15 . Excursion in Samarkand. At 17:30 transfer by high-speed train to Tashkent