Altai Mountains (Belukha Peak), photo by Vít Hněvkovský, 2006
The Altai Mountains (Altay, Алтай) are located in Central Asia, where the borders of Russia, China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan come together. The mountains run about 1,200 miles, roughly from the northwest (near the Sayan Mountains) to the southeast and the Gobi Desert. The highest summit of the range is Belukha, whose dual peaks reach over thirteen thousand feet. The name "Altai" derives from Turkic and Mongolian sources and means roughly, "mountains of gold."
The Altai Mountains represent the northernmost impact of the collision of the India tectonic plate into Asia. Until the twentieth century, the mountains were extremely remote and sparsely populated; but, they have since been opened to exploitation, chiefly of metals such as mercury, gold, manganese and tungsten. The mountains also seem to be a prime destination for those interested in wilderness treks and explorations as a web search for "Altai Mountains" will reveal.