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Photographer's Note

Batagol mine (Altitude: 2000m)
Batagol is a graphite mountain discovered in 1848 by the Frenchman Jean Pierre Alibert. On the top of the mountain, you can see the remains of the hippodrome he made for his Soyot miners (outstanding horsemen). He his now legend and I met many local people who still talk about him with gratitude.

"Jean-Pierre Alibert was born in France in 1820. This Frenchman, a pragmatist by nature and a romantic at heart, conquered the raw forces of Siberian nature and captured worldwide fame for discovering Russian graphite in the middle of the 19th century. Alibert was a trader, a miner and a dauntless dreamer. He was worshipped by Siberian tribes people and admired throughout Europe. Count Muraviev-Amursky, Governor General of Irkutsk, as well as members of St. Petersburg scientific and artistic elites greatly valued Alibert's achievements. In Siberia he was not called Jean-Pierre but Ivan Petrovich. In Siberia, where he felt despair and ecstasy, there are still signs of his presence. Peak Botogol still has stone walls that were erected to protect the mine from hurricane winds. Here one can see a portion of the hippodrome on the mountain top and find large steel nails that used to hold together comfortable housing next to mounds of graphite.
By day, Ivan Petrovich personally sorted through graphite that was to be sent to A. W. Faber's factory. By night, living at the height of 2210 meters above the sea level, he studied the starry skies above the Sayans with astronomical instruments. It is just as difficult to get to Botogol today as it was back then, and the beauty of nature that beckoned Alibert has remained untouched. In the valley below Peak Botogol, shaggy yaks still roam as they did back then, and local villagers tell legends of a courageous and generous foreigner. Alibert gave many years of his life to the Sayan Mountains, following the valley of the Irkut River almost to the border with Mongolia. He shipped graphite down Siberian rivers to the Pacific and Indian oceans, to the Baltic Sea and Nuremberg. When he returned to France, Alibert remained nostalgic for the mountains. This nostalgia, as well as rheumatism, which he earned in severe Siberian conditions, led him to settle in the French province of Auvergne."
Source - http://triton.itep.ru/kl/botogol/english.html"

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