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Ergaki Nature Park

History

     The name of the mountains “Ergaki” comes from a Turkic language meaning “fingers”. It echoes a legend that Ergaki mountains are fingers of Batyr – a local guy who disappointed the Gods by his behavior. The Gods sent him to underworld but he tried to get his way back. The moment his fingers  were above the ground surface the Gods turned him to stone.

     History of Ergaki as a destination for outdoor activities goes back to the mid-XXth century - long before official documents to establish Ergaki Nature Park were signed. Krasnoyarsk artists - Vladimir Meshkov, Toivo Ryannel, Rudolf Ruyga and others - were the pioneers to this territory. Toivo Rannel first tavelled to Ergaki mountain ridge in 1949 and said “Incredible rocky peaks of the Sayan allure me. I hear the call of the Sayan mountains all the time!”

     In 1950-60 more and more Krasnoyarsk stolbists (http://everydayrussianlanguage.com/en/stories/krasnoyarsk-stolby/ http://weirdrussia.com/2014/10/01/stolby-nature-reserve/) and tourists travelled to this mountains, made their first ascents to mountain peaks and developed first networks of trails.

     An important event took place on 25 July 1969 when Krasnoyarsk experienced climbers Yuri Kuzema and Leonid Edovin conquered one of the most unapproachable peaks of the Ergaki ridge. They named this highest point of the ridge (2264.7 m) - Peak Zvezdniy (Star Peak).

         

     In the 1970-s climbers ascended to all main peaks.

     In the early 1980s this region was chosen for organizing seminars for Krasnoyarsk Rescue Service and Pan Soviet Union training seminars for tourist instructors.

     In this period first summer campgrounds were opened near Lakes Svetloye (Light Lake), Lake Raduzhnoye (Rainbow Lake), brook Medvezhiy (Bear Brook) and in the close vicinity of the base of Minusinsk rescuers. Unique nature attracted many hikers and mountaineers to explore central part of Ergaki. Moreover an adventurous horseback ride tour along the Kulumys ridge with stunning viewsof Kamenniy Gorod (Rock Town) and Raduzhnoye Lake (Lake Rainbow) became a noteworthy feature of outdoor experience.

     There was an unpredictable breakthrough period in development of tourism in the region in 1990s. Due to dissolution of Soviet Union in 1991 it became very problematic to get to well popular centers of alpinism and mountaineering (Caucasus, Pamir and Pamir-Altai and Tien Shan). The Ergaki ridge climate and nature conditions provided visitors with an unparalleled natural experience and attracted plenty of tourists. Sheer cliffs of Ergaki ridge become a favorite place for mountaineers and climbers.  Winter and summer alpinism and rock climbing championships of Krasnoyarsk Krai, Siberia and the Far East have been held here since 1995.

     Parallel to growth of tourist popularity of the territory there was an increase in understanding of preservation of various landscapes and great biodiversity of Western Sayan Mountains.

     In 1999 it was offered to establish two protected areas in Yermakovsky District of Krasnoyarsk krai – two zakazniks (reserves): "Aradansky" and "Ergaki" in accordance to "The strategy of development of protected areas  in Krasnoyarsk Krai". As the territory of Western Sayan Mountains has great recreational value and is home for abundant wildlife the idea of establishing a nature park (a protected area of higher protective standards) was discussed.

     Significant contribution to development of the park and promotion of tourism there was made by Alexander Lebed - the governor of Krasnoyarsk Krai (1998-2002) and Vasily Rogovoy – the head of the Ermakovsky District of Krasnoyarsk Krai (1999- 2002). Thanks to their support the first ski lift was built in a holiday camp “Ergaki”. Unfortunately, they lost their lives when the helicopter crashed on its way to an opening ceremony of this ski lift (28 April) 2002).

     In 2004 within Livin, Planet Campaign declared by the WWF the governor of Krasnoyarsk Krai Alexander Khloponin signed the agreement to more than double the region’sprotected area (PA). Ergaki Nature Park was the first in the list of the protected areas which were planned to establish.

     “Ergaki” was officially declared a nature park in 2005 by the governor of the Krasnoyarsk region Alexander Khloponin. He proclaimed it one of ‘the Gifts to the Earth’ areas within a campaign initiated by WWF to increase the number of protected areas in Russia. It was an "anniversary" Gift to the Earth: in the list of the International secretariat of WWF its number is - 100.

     A bit later - on February 14, 2006 – “Directorate of Ergaki Nature Park” was established for nature protection and development of recreational activity at the territory of Nature Park.

     In May 2006 the park was visited by His Royal Highness the Prince Consort of Denmark Henrick who is also the honorary president of WWF Denmark and a well-known conservationist. He spoke highly about the park and its important role in protecting the world’s most valuable ecosystems.

     Ergaki Nature Park is a part of the key territory No. 5 of the draft of the Program of development of the UN (PROON) and the Global Ecological Fund (GEF) “Preservation of biological diversity in the Russian part of the Altai-Sayan Ecoregion, the phase 1” and is the priority territory for the “Ensuring Long-term Preservation of a Biodiversity of the Altai-Sayan Ecoregion” realized by WWF.