Kyrgyzstan - 94% mountains!

Squeezed inbetween Kazakstan, Uzbekistan, Tadjikistan and China lies
the politically fragile nomad country Kyrgyzstan covered by mountains.
High mountains with many peaks in the 5.000-7.000 m range. 30% of
the country is said never to melt. To us, Johan, Jax, Kjersti and me that
sounded like a great place to go skiing!

Both my luggage and Johan didn´t make the connection from Istanbul
to Bishkek...and the next flight would be 24 hours I got to
borrow equipment while we skied for a day with the locals in Toguz Bulak
about an hour from the capital Bishkek. My stuff is red and Kjerstis ski
is black. I got cooler poles though.

The afterski for sure made it up for the laid back slope-skiing this day.
It was lethal! With poker on the hood of a car and betting on Ulak-Tartysh, 
a rough game played by two horse-mounted teams and involving a goat
carcass we felt like we do not know how to have fun in the west.

We were told that broken noses and dislocated shoulders are common
details of this game.

While waiting for Johan and my luggage we were offered Slava´s, our
guide and driver´s, own brew of fire water. Needless to say waiting for
a 04.00 arrival was not so bad after all.

Johan arrives at 4 in the morning and gets to hit the firewater immeadiately.
We have a long drive ahead on mountain roads to Karakol in the Tien -Shan,
The Celestial Mountains on the border to China. Finally we are all here and
ready to ride!

We meet up with local Kyrgyz freeriders Lida and Slava and take the
snowmobiles to their playground beyond where the ski-lifts end in Karakol
Ski base. Ladies first so Kjersti and I get to go. No heli this week due to
high risk of avalanches.

Johan scouts if we should go right or left.

Slava goes right...

...and we decide on the left side. Crowds? Nope.

Kjersti gets down first into the pine-forest zone that actually reaches
above 2.800 meters.

Another day we take the 4WD Mitsubishi-bus to the Chon-Ashuu pass in
order to drive up, skin a little and then have nice decents of 900m. Now,
we don´t really make it to the pass at 3.822 since the road is closed
due to avalanche risk and not cleaned. However, after a short discussion
(involving money) with the local policemen blocking the road to the pass,
and a positive mindframe, we make the little bus atleast make it to 3.200
before the radiator liquid pours out and the engine decides to burn. So,
while we boot with lightly clad Slava and Lida, our masterguides Vasilij and
Dadja Slava get to work on the car.

And Voila! By the time we come down there´s a new vehicle awaiting
us. In the middle of gook! Amazing!

Fot the last section of our trip, we move to the Suusamyr Tourist Base
in the Suusamyr Valley in the Kyrgyz Ala Too Range. An area that we reach
from the dramatic 3.586 m Tor Ashuu pass. We are later told that early
local free riders used to drive up to the pass and ski down under the
electrical poles for orientation. One of the days we try a similar approach
but use the newly built ski lift in the Too Ashuu and then shuttle with car
back to the top.

The base runs as a paragliding base in the summer and freeride base
in winter. We introduced the famous "rundpingis" and skid along quite
well in our magic slippers given to us as a welcome present by Alina at
Top Asia. Riders from Russia, USA, Germany, Kyrgyzstan, Norway and
Sweden could then brighten the evenings and get out of breath at 2.300 m
playing this world famous ping-pong game.

As we were taken up by catski and booted the rest, a lot of time could
be spent playing. Here I am enjoying mountain FR3 (Free Ride 3)

Dennis waiting for us with the catski and a magic view over FR1 and the

Farytail landscapes but some days we had little visibility and navigated
by this giant plant the locals referred to as Markovnik. Not to be found
under that name in a flora book...

Johan with a Markovnik in view. Powder to last a lifetime.

Dog? Wolf? Wolfdog? In January, we were told, it´s wise to bring a rifle
with you since the wolfs gather in big flocks to mate. Lucky we were there
in February...

The nearest town is called Paris. No joke. Johan is shopping for more
beer for the rund-pingis tournament.

All set for a good evening. Baltika at 7% makes for a short but good game.

Final day at Suusamyr and we have sunshine. Kjersti does her thing.

Jax making his mark on this beautiful place. FR1 in the back while Jax
is on FR3.
Maybe I can sum it up to endless mountains, vast wilderness, some of 
the most welcoming people I have met and a good vibe that goes straight
to the heart. And stays there.

I will be back to this magic place on the planet!



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