Tian Shan, meaning Heavenly Mountains, is a mountain system in Central Asia, extending nearly 1500 arcing miles across Kyrgyzstan and Xinjiang Province, China. It is extended further north by the Bogda Mountains, and further still by the Altai Mountains along China's northern border.
The highest peaks of Tian Shan are concentrated in a remote cluster, located on the borders of Kyrgyzstan, China, and Kazakhstan. Of these congregating giants, Pik Pobeda (7,439 m.) is highest. East of this central group, the mountains rise only to 19,000 feet, but are well glaciated. West of this central group, the mountains break into several lower ranges and the Tian Shan is a relatively minor range when it merges into the Pamirs.
The most accessible of Tien Shan's peaks is located in the western portion of the range. Though significantly smaller than Pobeda and its neighbors, Pik Talgar (16,460 ft.) is a nonetheless impressive summit that towers over the Kazakh city of Alma Ata.
Heavy rain and snowfall on the range create a mountain environment that contrasts dramatically with the arid desert terrain of the southern foothills. On the lower slopes, there are flowery meadows and lush juniper and spruce forests. On the upper slopes, there are enormous glaciers, two of which are 45 miles long.