The physiognomy of the Altai mountains in their western and southern divisions is generally grand and interesting. The rivers, which are very numerous, flow rapidly with full streams; and the various forms of the stratified and metamorphosed rocks of the limestones, porphyry, and granite, with the Bielki (white or snowy mountains) in the distance, lend to the scene the charm of perpetual novelty. The banks of the Katunya, in the heart of the mountains, present a landscape of the most- impressive character; an immense wall of rock, extending from west to east, supports fields of perpetual snow and glaciers, from the midst of which rise numerous rocky points, pyramids, and truncated cones ; while in the distance are seen the two towering peaks named the Pillars of the Katunya. These peaks, which are supposed to be the highest summits of the Altai mountains, stand on a wide and elevated table-land, lying between the sources of the Katunya, the Bielaya (falling into the Chuya), and the Berell, which join s the B ukhtarma. Glaciers, spreading from the bases of the Bielukha, or snowy cones, supply the fountains of these three rivers. The absolute height of the Pillars has been estimated, by Dr. Gebler, at eleven thousand, seven hundred and twenty-three feet, or, by Tchihatcheff, at twelve thousand, seven hundred and ninety feet. To the east of these pillars, the peaks of Chenune-ouzoune and Arhhite increase in number, and present forms still more deeply serrated. " In the course of all my long wanderings," observes Tchihatcheff, " I do not remember ever to have admired a scene more grand or more magnificent." The accompanying view of these mountains (presented on the following page) is taken from the northern summit of the plateau of Saljar, a branch of the chain of the same name.
see more - Physical Geography
Sears, Robert. An Illustrated Description of the Russian Empire. New York: Robert Sears, 1855