Here is the short review on the mountain the proximity of which to the famous Belukha makes it far less visited than it really deserves. The Ak-Oyuk valley from which climbing of this mountain is normally done is cosy and easy to access place, with many possibilities for camping and with spectacular views on the incomparable Altay landscapes.
Mount Ak-Oyuk which is located in the side mountain range in North West of Belukha is not distinguished nor by its height nor by any peculiarities of form, which are so remarkable in its close and famous neighbor Mount Belukha. Although, the best view point from which the most stunning view of the whole Belukha massif can be witnessed, is the top of Ak-Oyuk. Getting to the top of Ak-Oyuk is possible by the four routes:
The Normal (descent route, 2a Russian Grade)
North Face (objectively dangerous, 3b, Russian Grade)
North West Ridge (2b Russian Grade)
Right Ridge of the South East Face (4a Russian Grade)
Not depending on what route you will choose, climbing of Ak-Oyuk gives the perfect opportunity to enjoy the wonderful views of Altay mountains, and if you are lucky enough with the weather - to get impressing view of the Belukha herself. Besides that, climbing of Ak-Oyuk can give the good acclimatization and skills, necessary for climbing Belukha.
In the general outlines getting to the base of Mount Ak-Oyuk is the same as to the Akkem lake Base camp, from which you take the only possible right turn (as if you going up) the trek begins somewhere in the middle part of Akkem Lake right shore and serpentine through thick pine forest to the flat upper section of the valley. Follow the trail until it begins to turn right - normally it is used for one day trek to the area called Semiozerje (Seven Lakes), then turn left and go straight to the North Face of Mount Ak-Oyuk. Just below the face there is one big lake on the right side of which a very good camping site is located. From this camp Ak-Oyuk can be climbed in one day.
By the situation on the summer 2009 there are no permits, no fees, no closures in Altay mountains. The area is open to general use. Although Altay is quite popular in Russia for many types of outdoor activities, and especially the distant but highly visited Belukha region, the tourist infrastructure is really very poor. Especially careful you should be undertaking any climbing routes as there is very small chance to get rescue help in case if something happens.
Camping is allowed anywhere. But due to the increasing of the tourist visitation in the last years the area is getting more and more littered. Please consider this problem during your visit to Altay and help us to keep our mountains clean.
Information on the organized tours and climbs in Altay mountains you can find here
Fresh photos from the recent AlexClimb Altay expedition 2011