Physical Geography

Bayan Ölgiy aimag covers a corner of northwestern Mongolia comprising 45,700 square km. This is a mountainous region, characterized in the winter by extreme cold and wind with precipitation primarily in the form of mountain snow; in the short summer, the temperatures can be high and the air extremely dry. Throughout this region, vegetation varies depending on elevation, orientation of slope, and available water. Sandstone, limestone and granite dominate the geology of this region.

At the far western point of Bayan Olgiy rise the mountains known collectively as Tavan Bogd —the Five Masters. These include the highest peak, Khuiten, 4,374 m above sea level, and the slightly lower ridges of Naran, Ölgiy, Bürged and Nairamdal. This massive knot of glaciated peaks marks the point where Mongolia, Russia, and China meet; from a geopolitical perspective, Tavan Bogd may be considered the culmination of the Altai uplift, if not the highest point. To the southeast but still within the Altai Ridge of Bayan Olgiy, Tsengel Khairkhan Uul rears its massive, snow-crowned head to 3,943 m and on the southern border with China can be seen the snow and glacier covered peak of Öndör Khairkhan Uul (3,914 m) as well as a number of other large but unnamed peaks. Throughout much of mountainous Bayan Olgiy, these peaks serve as beacons, visible from great distances.