Painter, architect, and alpinist, Andrey Starkov, shared his opinion about the project of construction of the mountain ski resort “Kok-Zhailau”
Cons of the project of construction of the ski resort “Kok-Zhailau”:
1. The main slopes of the plateau have a small incline (10-15 degrees) which makes them uninteresting to confident skiers.
2. The slopes are short (150-200m) for “normal” skiing (“along the slope line”)
3. The main slopes of the plateau are crossed by numerous creek beds, which are filled with melted and storm water in spring and summer season. This creates difficult hydrological conditions and will require construction of many special engineering structures (crossings, overpasses, embankments, drainage systems) in order to prevent erosion of the slopes during construction and exploitation of the roads (which translates in significant rise in cost and increase of exploitation expanses).
4. The only year-round water source is a small creek (source of Batareyka river) with a discharge rate incapable to cover all drinking and technical water needs of a large resort and hotel complex.
5. Several larger slopes, from 15 to 35 degrees (Kumbel mountain) adjoined to the plateau from the south-east, are extremely prone to avalanches, which will require additional expenses for construction of anti-avalanche systems.
6. In general, the isolated and short in length slopes do not allow creating a single connected track system serviced by 1-2 elevators. In fact, they will require construction of many separate elevators for each slope which increases capital investments and lowers profitability.
7. Building of the ski tracks will require cutting of a large number of fir trees.
8. The plateau is located at 2350 to 1800 m above sea level which leads to a fast melt down of the snow cover. At the same time, there is a lack of a sufficient water source to create a system of artificial snow production.
9. Maintenance of the mountain ski resort will require construction of miles-long engineering grids (water supply system, sewage, electrical grid), motor and service roads (increase in costs).
10. Construction of the resort will increase the pressure on the ecosystem of the mid-mountain zone, inhabited with the Red Book specimens of flora and fauna, and the most sensitive to the anthropogenic influence.
11. Quality of the mountain skiing tracks (slope relief with diagonal, slanting direction, inclinations, moist snow) will significantly yield to the existing tracks in the ski complex “Chimbulak” which will lead to “under usage of the capacity” of the complex and will result in its unprofitability.
12. Negative public opinion about construction of the large sport and tourism complex on the territory of Kok-Zhailau plateau which serves as a traditional place for hiking, contemplative and meditative recreation for thousands of Almaty residents (seniors, students).
Territory of Kok-Zhailau is suitable for creation of a sport and tourism complex, primarily, for the summer season recreational activities (hiking, horse-back riding) with a small winter constituent (2-3 small mountain ski tracks on Kumbel mountain slopes).
Construction of a large mountain ski complex with significant capital investments and low profitability will require a long time for return of investments (and possibly, will never pay off) compare to other sites with a better potential for the winter recreational activities.
It is necessary to conduct an independent public assessment of the project.