Zailiysky Alatau refers to the northern ridge of the Tien Shan mountainous country. Kazakh Nomadic tribes called the mountains “Alatau” (translation means “partly colored”, “skewbald”). A well-known Russian scientist and traveler Semenov-Tien-Shansky named them as “Zailiyskiy”.
Mountains have begun to form 12 million years ago and active growth has been noted over the last million years. Every year they climb on 5 mm.
The ridge stretches from the West to the East for 380 km. The highest vertices are located in the central part of the ridge. The crest has a mark over 130 km more than 4000 meters above the sea level. Here are 22 peaks taller than 4500 m. The highest peak of Zailiysky Alatau is Talgar Peak (4937 m) that polished by nature in the form of a molar tooth and it becomes visible from the city. The granite mountain of Talgar is located above the famous peak of Europe – Mont Blanc (4807 m).
Climbing to this mountain is considered a solid chapter in the biography of a climber of any class. As a rule the climbing takes 3 days. There are many other magnificent peaks around Talgar peak: the Constitution – 4584 m, Kantbastau – 4647 m, Muztau – 4555 m, Bogatyr – 4626, Kopar – 4760 m, Aktau – 4760 m, Metallurg – 4800 m and many other peaks.
There are massive glaciers to the South of these peaks, such as Korzhenevsky – 11 km long and Bogatyr – 9.5 km long and accessible only from a helicopter or with a good guide. This area is the Almaty reserve and in order to enter its territory a special permit would be required. The reserve preserves the habitat of the snow leopard and many other animals, including deer, eagles, argali, gazelles.