Lake Baikal is surrounded by mountains. The northern and north-western coast are framed with the Primorsky mountain range with maximum heights of about 1,700 m (Trekhgolovy (Three-Headed) Golets, 1,728 m) and the Baikal mountain range with the maximum height of 2,588 m (Chersky mountain). The upper border of arboreous vegetation reaches 1,200-1,500 m. The treeless belt – mountain tundra – is located higher.
In the southern part of the Baikal mountain range, on its north-western slopes, one of the biggest rivers of the world, the Lena, originates. Its upper reaches are 9 km away from Lake Baikal near the picturesque mountain pass Solnechnaya (Sunny) pad (valley) opposite the Baikal cape of Sagan-Moryan. The eastern coast of the northern part of the lake cavity is represented by the Barguzin mountain range with the average height of about 2,000 m (the maximum height is 2,840 m). The watersheds of the Barguzin range represent the classical Alpine relief forms. There are many traces of the latest freezing there. To the south there are the Golondinsky range and the western spurs of the Ulan-Burgasy range. The coast of the southern cavity is made up with the Khamar-Daban range with the maximum height of 2,731 m (Khan-Uula mountain). The mountain-masses of the coast are made up of gneisses, granites, crystalline slates and limestones (marbles). The slopes are cut through with deep narrow valleys and gorges.
The shores of Lake Baikal are mostly of two types – abrasion and accumulative ones. In accordance with the coastal relief character, rocks and crumbly material which make up the shores of Lake Baikal they can be subdivided into dismembered and even ones. The dismembered shores are the most diverse according to the processes of their formation.
According to their genetic and morphological signs the Baikal shores can be referred to several types.
The abrasion shores can be found in the places where deluvial-proluvial valley is developed. The dismemberment of the shore is conditioned by the numerous carried out cones far protruded into the lake and making the capes.
Among the dismembered shores the accumulative-abrasion are distinguished, they are timed to moraine valleys at the foot of the mountains which were subject to especially strong Quaternary freezing. Alternation of bays sometimes deeply cut into the land and capes formed with terminal moraines is characteristic of the morphology of those shores. Such shores are peculiar to the north-eastern coast of the lake (the foot of the Barguzin mountain range).
In the places where the mountains come abruptly to precipice near the lake and where the underwater slope is very steep high denudation-abrasion shores are developed. They are made of very firm crystalline rocks – granites, gneisses, crystalline slates and comparatively little changed by abrasion. These shores have preserved the primary tectonic relief. Plain shores predominate, they are especially widespread on the western coast, between the village of Kultuk and the northern end of Olkhon island.
The dismembered shores are less extensive, they are peculiar of the parts of structure-denudation relief. They are typical of the south-western and north-western shores of Olkhon island, the Olkhon plateau shore on the side of the Olkhon gate and the Chivyrkui gulf. Narrow bays, deeply cut into the land formed as a result of the river valleys flooding are characteristic of their morphology.
Accumulative shores are less spread and mostly peculiar of deltas; their forming is influenced by the processes of river and lake accumulation. The lagoon shores formed as a result of the coastal valley sinking after great earthquakes can be referred to them, as well as the Proval gulf and more ancient gulfs, the Posolsky sor (cove) and the Cherkalov sor.