August 9th, 2010

Ortobalagan Valley

I'm reading _Blind Descent_ (about which more later), and just starting the second half, which is about Krubera, a supercave which is in the Arabika Massif. The entrance is in the Ortobalagan Valley.

Now, when _you_ look at Ortobalagan, do you see right/correct + beluga whale? I did. And I was pretty sure that wasn't exactly right. I _think_ the correct interpretation would be "upright" for ortho/orto, and great white for balagan. I'm less certain about the "great" than the "white". I don't understand Russian at all, much less the finer points of its suffixes. Honestly, I'm hazy on whether this is Russian or Ukrainian or something else...

The white makes sense: the massif is limestone with a fair amount of silica in it. The valley is probably pretty straight up and down on the sides. Very descriptive! Weird that it survives so totally into English; I'm assuming that is a transliterated name, not a translated name.

ETA: Almost certainly this analysis is incorrect. Altho I'm not sure I believe any of the alternative explanations.