Adventures in Kyrgyzstan
Warm Yurts, Cold Nights, Local Foods, Touring, Powder Skiing, Skidoos, Absolute Solitude, Drones, Tree Climbing, Dogs, Whisky.
Where is it?
The area we went to borders with Kazakhstan to it’s North and China to it’s East. We were about 100 miles from China. The village is an ex-soviet coal mining community. They still very unofficially mine the coal for local fuel, which I can imagine is one of the most dangerous jobs going. It’s a super sleepy quaint old town, don’t be thinking ‘apres’.
Rich (TDC coach) went there last year on holibobs and loved it. The touring, remoteness, solitude and powder were off the chart. So it took little (no) convincing Terry to get some clients together and arrange a trip. It’s a pretty wild experience that you won’t be getting around Europe.
We met the clients at the Yurts in the village on Saturday morning, cracked into some warm breakfast, then went straight up the hill for a ski. Each day we toured approx. 400m ascent in the morning and afternoon. The Yurts are at about 2250m, and we were getting up to the top of the tree line at 2800 on some days. The views are beyond comparison. The trees are enormous and shelter the light dry snow from any wind.
On the third day we took a 30 minute (10km) skidoo ‘transfer’ to a more remote yurt camp! Like really remote. From there we did another 2 days touring in and around the area. It’s the first Winter that people have ski toured there and we probably got first down a few lines. On the way back home, we stopped off at some hot saline springs to break up the journey, stayed a night in the capital and had some incredible local foods and 12% abv beers. This is a country for foodies, it was amazing.
What really happened?
Our first plane needed rebooting on the runway about 3 times, so we missed our connecting flight on day 1. Instead of meeting the clients in Istanbul, we had to arrange for them to get to the Yurts in kinda the middle of nowhere without us! All went silky smoothly, obvs.
We spent a fortune on a DJI drone to get loads of pictures and promo footage. Rich put the drone through a tree on the first tour, broke all the rotors, and hadn’t bought the correct replacements out. I used my summer mountaineering/climbing skills to go 10m up a massive tree one day, to get a drone back. Not ideal when rescue is potentially 3 days away.
A rumbustious dog came touring with us everyday. It was an absolute beast, running flat out for 10 km in powder behind skidoos. The ‘transfers’ on a rope on the back of skidoos was a great crack, until we started overtaking the skidoos, or had to cross river beds. Rock n Roll.
We had a sauna every night after skiing before dinner. Log fired warmth, with -15 outside. This was in the top 3 things about the trip. A non-English speaking guy we named ‘Bram’ came to stoke the fires in the yurts and sauna every few hours. All day and night. I would have loved to have seen his job description on application. Must be a fire boss, and never sleep longer than 3 hours at a time, ever.
What was the snow like?
The powder was beautifully light and velvet smooth, the tree skiing was utterly mega. It was a pretty necky snowpack though so we had to play it super safe. The yurt owners won’t let people ski there without a qualified person in charge, for damn good reason. It was the most unstable snow I’ve ever experienced. The relatively small amount of snow they get each year, and sustained very cold temps throughout the whole winter means the snow never bonds together. If you break through the top layer, it’s 50cm+ of sugar. So, low angle bouncy pow turns are the order of the day, every day.
For sure. This was some of the sickest skiing we’ve ever done. Sharing it with clients was incredible. Next year we’re going to take 4 coaches, and 12 clients, doing swap-overs in the different yurt camps around the area.
We’re also going to put on a Japan powder trip, and possibly a Georgian Cat/Heli ski trip too.
Peace and Pow,
Terry & Rich
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