Looking east of the Urals in the physiographic map of Russia, there's a green field on the left, the West Siberian Plain, and a brown field on the right, the Mid-Siberian Upland, separated by a sharp boundary in the very center of the vast territory. The boundary is delineated by the Yenisei, the great Siberian river, ranked among world largest rivers. It runs a long way of about 2500 miles from mountains in Mongolia to the Arctic ocean. The river crosses the Trans-Siberian railway in Krasnoyarsk, an important Siberian city with a million-scale population. The city has various sights worth seeing but the Stolby National Wildlife Nature Reserve, its glory.
The growing Eastern Sayan mountains were pushed up by pulses of magma which arrived from great depths millions of years ago and left syenite outliers on the surface, rocky cliffs of a wonderful beauty. People call it "a land of fantastical rocks" or "a land of forest giants".
The rocks are called "Stolby". "Stolby" is the plural of "stolb", the Russian for "pillar". The regular Stolby goers call themselves "stolbists", and the public activity as a whole is termed "stolbism". It is an exceptional activity with a long history of over 150 years and old customs recorded in a special folklore.
The place was discovered in 1624 by Russian kozaks, explorers of Siberia, who built a small fortress at the influx of the Kacha River into the Yenisei. They wondered at the huge intricately shaped stony blocks rising amid a thick forest and gave them the biblical name "Stolpy", reduced later to the popular "Stolby". Since then the name came into use for these and any similar rocky features in Siberia and the Russian Far East and was accepted as a geological term.
The rocky giants have witnessed a good deal of life stories and events. The land at the approaches of the city has been largely visited for about two hundred years. It has become a subject of numerous scientific and popular books and articles, feature and documentary films, an attraction and a source of inspiration for poets, musicians, and painters. It's a mode of life for many people to come there every day off enjoying nature and climbing for sports and for pleasure. The common practice is free climbing, without a stand by, a skill mastered by the Krasnoyarsk rock climbers since cradle, which strikes tourists and experienced guest climbers who never risk to do without a rope. The rocks have thus served as a training field for many outstanding rock climbers and mountaineers.
This web site is a strongly reduced English version of a Russian site attempted as a virtual model of the Stolby Reserve, an electronic encyclopedia with interactive references in all publications, bringing together an enormous collection of facts. We are trying to document every track, whether a somebody's life or a path on the rocks. What we present is just a beginning and any contribution is welcome (photographs, records, memoirs, etc.).
The publications on the Russian site reflect broad public discussions among various scientists, journalists, policy makers, and common people concerning the problems of the Reserve, which is at the same time the pride of the city and its headache because of ever growing environmental troubles. However, we are just archive keepers and our objective is to collect and display all facts and opinions, without any intention to judge. We only hope that this collection will provide a clue to the truth.
The web site is being built up by joint efforts of enthusiasts under a modest financial support from the Maxsoft Company in Krasnoyarsk. Its non-commercial character is its merit but also a constraint making us to restrict our Russian publications to about 20% of the available material, often of exceptional value and rarity.
The English version is a pilot presentation, and we hope to develop it in the future.