Mountains cover 95 per cent of the country of Kyrgyzstan and 40 per cent of those peaks rise above 3,000 metres. In fact, the country is so mountainous that the Kyrgyz people don’t even bother to name peaks lower than 4,000 metres.
While most climbers who travel to the central Asian nation have their sights set on one of three 7,000-metre peaks – Lenin (7,134 metres), Pobeda (7,439 metres) and Khan Tengri (7,010 metres) – members of the Alpine Club of Canada’s Rocky Mountain Section who visited the country in July chose the Ala Archa National Park area.
“We chose Ala Archa National Park due to its easy access and plentiful summits in the easy to moderate range,” said trip organizer Steve Fedyna. “Besides, it was cheap. Our one-week adventure, including transportation, porters, guides, accommodation, meals, permits, park fees and group equipment – ropes and anchors for fixed lines – cost just $700.”
Visiting in July, when the weather is relatively stable, the group enjoyed trekking for two weeks in the Inychek Glacier area, the world’s sixth-largest glacier. They spent their week in Ala Archa, south of the capital city of Bishkek, alpine climbing on peaks rated in the PD to AD French difficulty range.
Under the care of Russian guides, group members succeeded in summitting five different peaks ranging in elevation from 4,000 to 4,800 metres, negotiating terrain that included glacier travel, climbing 60-degree ice, scrambling on solid rock and rock climbing up to 5.7.
“We had not only a great climbing week, but also a rather unique – and at times strange – cultural experience,” Fedyna said.
For instance, the meals were Russian, as well as the climbing equipment and guiding styles.
“The guides were based in Kyrgyzstan, but were all originally from Russia,” he said. “One of our guides spoke minimal English, but chose instead to rely on one of our group members who spoke Russian to translate everything into English.
“One of the benefits of having guides was that the guidebook and photocopies of routes at the base camp were also all in Russian. The entire experience was, in fact, very Russian and very different from anything that any of us had encountered before.”
While the climbing, location and the summit views were all memorable, the local people added some delightful memories.
“Superfluous luxuries such as climbing helmets were never worn by the old timers, although they strongly believed in the powerful, positive influence of smoking a couple of cigarettes on the summit,” Fedyna said. “Anybody looking for something a little exotic at moderate elevations can’t go wrong with Kyrgyzstan.”
For an evening of gorgeous images and captivating stories presented by Fedyna, Jackie Clark and other team member, don’t miss their show, Climbing and Trekking in Kyrgyzstan, hosted by the ACC’s Rocky Mountain Section. The event takes place on Oct. 11 at the Canmore Legion, beginning at 7 p.m. Admission is free and laughs are guaranteed.
Source : rmoutlook