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Author: Fomenko Alexandra, Yalta
Photos: Alexander Demin, Simeiz

To the peak of Aj-Petri

( excursion)

The route of this excursion begins from Yalta bus station, then we will drive along the wide Yalta-Sevastopol highway, which streams Yalta on the north-west, then we will turn to the mountain road, the group will visit the peak, then descent to the Southern coast by the aerial ropeway and return to Yalta by minibus.

In the beginning of the excursion there is Yalta bus station, the beautiful four-stored building which was designed by the project of Tbilisi branch of Souzproekt company (architect- G.V. Chahava). The ensemble includes Derekoyka river, a bridge over it, a spacious square, underground crossing to the trolleybuses and the interchange. Along it we leave the town and drive to the aim of our journey peak of Ay-Petri mountain.

Admire the sea on the left. Each sea on the Earth has its own color which depends on salt content and on the weather. Maximum depth of the Black sea is 2212 m. The name wasn't given by chance to this sea: when storms are frequent, sea surface becomes dark, almost black.

By the way, this name appeared in times of Ottoman Empire domination (XV XVIII). Before it was called the Russian sea. It was in time period when trade ways were made here by merchants of the Kiev Rus. And in more ancient times, in antique, it was called Pont Evksinos, which means hospitable sea from Greek language. There is information that before it was called Pont Aksinos, inhospitable sea.

Nowadays the Black sea arouses pleasant feelings and memories, and we don't think about the meaning of its name. We return to its welcoming shores where swimming season starts in May and ends in October. The end of September is considered the best season for rest. The air warms up to +23 +28 and water temperature reaches +20. Beaches become deserted. People who prefer quite rest come to Crimea just in this period which has been called velvety since tsarist Russia . In autumn the true resort season began velvet or grapes season when rich public was gathered in Yalta . The beginning of the season was in the end of August and the beginning of September and its duration was 2,5 months. The grape season in Yalta came into fashion in some kind of society.

Along the entire Southern coast, to the right from the highway, there is a high mountain ridge the Main Ridge of Crimean Mountains. This relief forms the nice climate. The Southern coast is protected from cold northern winds by Crimean mountains. Coniferous and deciduous forest which covers the slopes of the Main Ridge clean the air and saturate it with oxygen and volatile production the curative flying substances. The sea air also brings health. So, the main generators of the curative climate of the Southern Crimea are forest, mountains and the sea.

In front of you above the woody hill a note is seen, like HOLLYWOOD, - ZOOLOGICAL GARDEN. In the distance on the slopes a waterfall is noticeable. To the right the road goes to the private zoo Yalta where many different animals live. The neighborhoods of the zoo are frequently called Crimean Switzerland because of the likeness of landscapes.

Ahead there is another crossroads where we turn to the Yalta-Bahchisarai road (Bahchisarai is a former capital of Crimean Khanate). We continue driving along the Yalta-Bahchisarai road, on which we will cover more than 20 km to the Ay-Petri peak. This road was laid by Russian military and field engineer companies from 1865 to 1878 years in very difficult conditions. Especially difficult was the section before the plateau between the 17-th and 22-nd kilometers where the slope abruptness reaches 60 - 80.

Firstly the road was laid only from Yalta till the Ychan-Su waterfall (1872), then it was continued in the mountains. The leader of the project was engineer-colonel S.I. Shishko who solved the main problem of construction by carving the road into abrupt slope. In honour of the end of unusually difficult and responsible work emperor Alexander II who carried the construction commanded to call the distinctive rock on Ay-Petri plateau in honour of Shishko. In subsequent years the road was continued on the plateau and the Northern slopes and foothills to Bahchisarai. The construction ended under the emperor Alexander III in 1894. Since that time the road hasn't been changed much, it was only widened and asphalted.

The engineer-colonel S.I. Shishko constructed the first urban water supply in Yalta , he is also the author and builder of the lower road to Nikita botanical garden.

Now we will make our first stop near Uchan-Su waterfall. It is full-flowing in spring and after the rains, and in summer there is almost no water. It is one of the highest in Europe (98 m). It is twice higher than Niagara . In cold winters the waterfall freezes and turns into one big icicle which hangs down from the ledge to its bottom. In 80-th years of the past century the alpinist (Fantik, Yu. Lishaev) firstly ascended the frozen waterfall. He noticed that it consists of many separate ice tube filled with water. Such construction is unsafe and can fall any moment.

The waterfall makes river with same name which runs through forest and vineyards and flows into the sea near Oreanda hotel.

An interesting fact: in June 1949 a mud-flow on Uchan-Su river carried out to sea more than 1.5 million square meters of ground per day. It made a coastal split with area more than a hectare. Then it was washed out by the sea.

Name Uchan-Su means Flying water from Turkic, the Greeks called it Kremasto-Nero, what means black water.

In the middle of the waterfall, between the cascades there is a water intake (a small box with a sculpture of eagle). Water comes by a wide pipe to the Mogabi reservoir.

Below the waterfall there is a separate rock with the remains of defensive wall on its western slope. It was one of the medieval fortresses (isars).

We are driving on the slopes of Mogabi mountain in the pine-tree forest. The forest of oak, beech, pine-tree occupy almost 95% of the nature reserve. Only separate glades and areas on the plateau are forestless. The flora includes 1100 species of plants, 90 of them are endemics. Here you can also meet giant trees. They are oak, gew, alder, pine-tree, basswood. Crimea has more than 800 giant trees with circle more than 3 m.

In the forest reserve live such animals as deer, roe deer, mountain fox, badger, and other mammals (39 species). Here were acclimatized moufflon from Corsica island, squirrel from Altai, boar from the East.

To the left you can see the Forester's mushroom. Next you can notice a section of landslide which bended the pine-tree trunks. In 1964 this part of forest and the Uchan-Su waterfall were declared as nature monument of local importance.

On your right you can see a row of big gews and a former house of road keeper. This place is called Pendikul because the rock with this name is nearby.

Soon we will see a sign Silver pavilion which is located on the Pendikul rock (altitude 865 m). It was made in honour of builders of this road.

The air in pine-tree forests is fragrant because of flying substances- volatile production which exterminates the pathogenic bacteria. The curative effect of walking in the pine-tree forest was used by a famous Russian doctor Sergey Petrovich Botkin for treatment. He ordered to build a summer palace for the empress Maria Alexandrovna, the wife of the emperor Alexander II.

Nowadays such treatment is called torrenkur measured walking, climate therapy while walking along the mountain paths.

Three Russian emperors traveled along this road: emperor Alexander II, emperor Alexander III and Nikolay II.

What is Ay-Petri? It is hard to answer this question shortly. Somebody tells about the beauty of the sunrise. Alpinists and climbers, tourists and excursionists, speleologists and skiers will tell something different about this mountain.

Hasta-Bash water spring
Ay-Petri is a peak and large mountain massif with area of more than 300 square kilometers, one of the mesas along the Southern Coast which form the Main Ridge of Crimean mountains. Ay-Petri massif stretches from east to west on 25 km. The distance between its southern edge and northern foothills is more than 13 km. But most of the tourists remember only one of its peaks with exotic stone teeth which are pushed to the South. It has become a symbol of the Southern coast.

The altitude of this mountain is 1234 m. How old is it? As every area on Earth, this section had many changes during 4,5 milliards of years. There were sea depths here which changed by warm seas with coral reefs along the shores.

Two powers, sometimes opposite, influenced the massif: inner (endogenous) and outside (exogenous). First is the result of complicated physicochemical processes deep in the Earth, resulting in slow sinking or rising of separate parts of the earth's crust. Second is the result of the influence of climate and water on the rock.

The geological history of the Mountainous Crimea and Ay-Petri as its part is known from the end of Triassic period (about 200 million years ago) when the territory of modern Crimea was covered with water of ancient Thetis ocean which occupied most of the Earth (until the Neogene period). In latitudinal direction it went through the Southern skirt of Eurasia continent, region of modern Mediterranean , to the extreme North-West of Africa.

During the last 200 million years the part of land where now Ay-Petri is, many times rose above the sea and dipped into the sea. The depth of dipping varied, and depending on it silt or sand were deposited, and in future they formed compacted clays or sandstone, or chalky silt, which formed limestones. Sometimes, the earth was washed away, and a lot of stones were drift to the basin. Cemented with sea deposition, it formed conglomerates.

The rocks of Ay-Petri peak differ from the main massif. There is a solid, firm limestone, it has no layers. But somewhere there are interesting fossils corals. The peak is a big coral reef. Corals live in the sea on small depth, but the thickness of the Ay-Petri massif is more than 600 m. It indicates that the bottom of ancient sea slowly sank, and the corals were to build there constructions to survive. Thousands of years passed and the period of rising began, and the coral colony finished their survival. The teeth of Ay-Petri are the result of eolation. The Mountainous Crimea as we can see it nowadays was formed in short geological time period- 1.5-2 million years.

The Ay-Petri plateau is around. You see a tourist base and a restaurant. On the opposite side of the road there is an old building of weather station. It was built in 1805 as a branch of Pulkovskaya observatory.

An unusual construction is a globe on the granite ground. It is so-called Ay-Petri meridian. Its geographical coordinates are exactly defined: 4428' of northern latitude and 3405' longitude to the East of Greenwich.


Clouds abobe Ay-Petri

To the right from the road there is a monument to the partisans of the Yalta order.

Not far from the monument, on the Shishko rock, there is a sightseeing area named in honour of the constructor of the road. Its altitude is 1182 m.

If you turn back to the slope, in front you see the Ay-Petri plateau. The teeth are on your left. On the north-east there is Bedene-Kur mountain.

Not far from Shishko rock there is a small, made before the revolution, condensation water spring. On the Ay-Petri plateau there are much destroyed walls. Such walls were made in the beginning of XX century for snow keeping (the snow wasn't blown down from the plateau, it melted slowly and filled water resources). First walls on the plateau appeared, according to historians, in the medieval times for land dividing.

The Ay-Petri plateau as well as all the rest is a region of classic karst. Water destroys the rock, making holes and grottos. The biggest cave in this region is called Kaskadnaya.

Not far from the rope road there is a cave equipped for tourists which is called Three Eyes because of 3 holes-entrances. In winter a lot of snow accumulates here, and because of low temperature ice preserves here even in summer.

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