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Awe-inspiring Landscapes of Stolby Nature Reserve

Situated on the east bank of the Yenisey River, about three kilometers upstream from the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, the Stolby Nature Reserve is renowned for its diverse natural beauty. Covering an area of approximately 47,000 hectares, the Stolby Nature Reserve takes its name from the enormous rock formations that are found within its boundaries. Stolby is the plural form of the word “stolb”, the Russian word for “pillar”. Around 100 of these beautiful rocky cliffs are scattered throughout the taiga forest, rising majestically up out of the trees.

Climbing the Stolby rocks, with or without safety equipment, is a popular pastime and regular climbers refer to themselves as “stolbists”. Most of the Russian rock climbing and mountaineering schools use the Stolby rocks for training and many famous mountaineers and rock climbers have tested their skills on the Stolby rocks before moving on to greater heights. These rocky giants, with names like Lion Gates, The Old Man, Feathers and Takmak, have been the subject of popular books, feature films and documentaries, as well as serving as a source of inspiration for musicians, poets and painters.

Visitors to the Stolby Nature Reserve follow a mountainous road that winds through the vast taiga forest where they can stop and taste the pure water from the mountain springs while they enjoy the crisp, clean air. The mountains in the reserve cause the climate to be milder than the surroundings, contributing to the high diversity of flora and fauna. The flora includes up to 1,037 species of which 260 are varieties of moss. The 58 recorded species of animals include wolves, bears, Siberian deer, musk deer, mink and musk-rat. The almost 200 species of birds include waxwing, nuthatch, tomtit, redpoll, woodpecker, blue nightingale and chaffinch. The population density of birds has been measured at between 400 and 600 birds per square kilometer.

The lookout point on Takmak, which is reached by means of a chair lift, opens up a breath-taking view of the Stolby Nature Reserve, with the unusual rock formations jutting out of the forest. Many rock climbers use the sheer cliff rising from the lookout point to practice their climbing skills – definitely not for amateurs. Sadly, some climbers have been killed attempting to ascend some of the more difficult cliffs and a chapel in the Stolby Nature Reserve honors them, while serving as a reminder that climbing these giants is a serious business.

Certainly a visit to Stolby Nature Reserve in the Siberian region of the Russian Federation is worthwhile, and visitors agree with the local people who refer to the reserve as “a land of fantastical rocks” or “a land of forest giants”.


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