Question Ski Kyrgyzstan / Tajikistan / Kazhakstan

buckwheat

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Hi All, myself and a mate are headed off to Jalpak Tash next year in the Kyrgyz Tien Shan for a week of yurt-based BC, linky below:
http://40tribesbackcountry.com/kyrgyzstan-guided-ski-and-splitboard-tours

While we're in the region we'll prolly try to hit up a few other places - notably the Fann mountains in western Tajikistan, and maybe/hopefully something in the region of Peak Lenin. Sort of a 50% Backcountry / 20% Resort / 30% sightseeing trip. Would love to also do the Pamir highway but research suggests this is best saved for summer.

Has anyone here had any experience in this region? General tips welcome but I'm particularly interested in killer backcountry destinations where the pow is deep and locals wear funny hats.

Cheers!
 

Telezacski

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My old man has done years of work on the road networks there; he has mentioned on a number of occasions that it should be a destination a look at for skiing, and to be fair the pictures of Astana support this.

I have no idea on ski locations but will look on with interest.
 

POW Hungry

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I traveled to Kyrgyzstan 2 years ago, albeit in Summer. I spent over a month there hiking and living with 'the last of the nomadic locals', I am planning to return in Winter 2020/21.
Sorry I can't help you on the skiing front however my backcountry trekking experience through the Ala Archa of the Chuy Region (South of Bishkek) and through the Tien Shan maybe be of assistance to you.
It has some mind-boggling terrain and isn't compared to Switzerland for no reason.

All I can suggest upfront for the BC mid-winter, is be prepared for the cold - the Western Region of the Tien Shan easily norms around -15C/-20C in the winter months.
Pik Lenin region? Wow, you must be very self-sufficient and prepared in this region. Are you planning on accessing via helicopter?

...And the avi danger is very real.
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Mister Tee on XC Skis

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Pretty sure that @Mister Tee on XC Skis has been to at least one of the Stans. Maybe not to resorts, and maybe not on skis though.
I have spent two weeks in Uzbekistan, no skiing or trekking , just solo sight seeing of the major cities and towns, travelling independently. I have lived in Pakistan for 5-6 months in the late 1990's and have been to Torkham on the Pak./ Afghanistan border. Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are on my list for places to travel to .Maybe not to ski but perhaps to do some trekking and sight seeing .
 

buckwheat

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Hey Pow Hungry, yep its funny, the more i read, the more i want to go there in summer! Very jealous, I'll bet it was awesome. I have read a bit about ala archa and this could be on the list too. How did you go about accom? Camping, staying with locals, mountain huts etc? Or is there some form of lodge system?

I'll be honest about the pik lenin thing, at this stage it is nothing more than a thought bubble - ie if there's big mountains it must be a cool area. Haven't done any research into logistics yet, and we're certainly not going for a summit, this trip is more about the turns than the mountaineering. So may get scratched depending!
 

smackies

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@smackies still smells of yurt and horse after skinning around the stan

Horse blanket, to be exact.

Yes, also went to Jalpak Tash for one guided week and then one self guided week. If you end up skiing things like the Shrine, just look at the mountain ranges behind for inspiration. Logistics would be the biggest problem.

Honestly, the best person to ask is Kas, who works with 40 Tribes. I put my friends in touch with him and his buddy when they went on their Type 2.5 Fun spring tour of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. They skied in Ala Archa NP, Djigit Peak, Peak Lenin. There was an article floating around somewhere about the endless suffering.

Not sure what time you are going, but Kyrgyz "pow" is somewhat unique. Think top to bottom facets. Anything that slides behaves like a wet slide... of sugar.
 

Mister Tee on XC Skis

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Mr.Tee at Samarkand, the Registan 2012 . I was a bit chubbier then. I have slimmed down since then. I went dressed as an Afghan in the hope I would blend in ;-P .The food was shite but the people and the sights and culture were amazing. There are trekking and skiing options in the Fan Mountains in Uzbekistan. Tashkent is easy to reach by international air links but Dushanbe is more difficult in terms of direct flights.
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Budgiesmuggler

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I was there about 10 years ago in december. Did a bit of tecking, skied in Uzbekistan.

Note it takes a long time to get anywhere in Tajikistan. Pamir highway is very rough.
 
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buckwheat

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Mr Tee, you look like you blend right in!

Budgiesmuggler - yep, its the sort of area I'd prefer to spend months in rather than weeks, given the huge travel to get anywhere. For that reason we may just duck into one end of the Pamir highway rather than do the whole thing. Especially in winter!

Smackies - PM sent :)
 

Budgiesmuggler

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Mr Tee, you look like you blend right in!

Budgiesmuggler - yep, its the sort of area I'd prefer to spend months in rather than weeks, given the huge travel to get anywhere. For that reason we may just duck into one end of the Pamir highway rather than do the whole thing. Especially in winter!

Smackies - PM sent :)


I went to Khorog which is worth going to but takes some getting to!! Beautiful high mountains all around.
 

POW Hungry

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How did you go about accom? Camping, staying with locals, mountain huts etc? Or is there some form of lodge system?
I have contacts, happy to share them with you, if you want but they are mainly Bishkek & Karakol-based. Nonetheless they 'know people, who know people' - the system that has worked for hundreds and hundreds of years in BC Asia, to get shit done.
I know the owner of THIS Instagram account. He runs his own tour company as a side business and he can help you with translation and not getting 'done over' etc.
You'll learn very quickly when on the ground in KYG that the best plans work out when you don't plan them. Westerners plan too much and by the time you get there, that's when you realise you're getting done over. Go with the flow in a place like the stans, I reckon.
I stayed in all sorts of accom; from people's apartments to yurts, to my own tent.

That said, you can EASILY tackle the accommodation via the local CBTs (community based tourism), who are in short; locals fit out to act as tour operators or hosts:
http://cbtkyrgyzstan.kg/
I'll be honest about the pik lenin thing, at this stage it is nothing more than a thought bubble - ie if there's big mountains it must be a cool area. Haven't done any research into logistics yet, and we're certainly not going for a summit, this trip is more about the turns than the mountaineering. So may get scratched depending!
Don't let me talk you out of it, but you don't need to go anywhere near Pik Lenin to experience extraordinary BC terrain. Lennin by in large in winter is an expedition-based region. So just be prepared.

Otherwise, the terrain out the back of Karakol, Tien Shen & even Ala Archa will blow your mind for skinning and touring. Tight lines, brother.
 
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buckwheat

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Cheers Pow Hungry - a beautifully put together film! The travel / adventure vibe is exactly what we're after - the snowpack, a little less so. I remember having a similar snowpack when touring in Georgia. Heebie Jeebie to the max. Shudder.
 
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Budgiesmuggler

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I have contacts, happy to share them with you, if you want but they are mainly Bishkek & Karakol-based. Nonetheless they 'know people, who know people' - the system that has worked for hundreds and hundreds of years in BC Asia, to get shit done.
I know the owner of THIS Instagram account. He runs his own tour company as a side business and he can help you with translation and not getting 'done over' etc.
You'll learn very quickly when on the ground in KYG that the best plans work out when you don't plan them. Westerners plan too much and by the time you get there, that's when you realise you're getting done over. Go with the flow in a place like the stans, I reckon.
I stayed in all sorts of accom; from people's apartments to yurts, to my own tent.

That said, you can EASILY tackle the accommodation via the local CBTs (community based tourism), who are in short; locals fit out to act as tour operators or hosts:
http://cbtkyrgyzstan.kg/

Don't let me talk you out of it, but you don't need to go anywhere near Pik Lenin to experience extraordinary BC terrain. Lennin by in large in winter is an expedition-based region. So just be prepared.

Otherwise, the terrain out the back of Karakol, Tien Shen & even Ala Archa will blow your mind for skinning and touring. Tight lines, brother.


This - with a little money you’re able to have amazing experiences.

Contact the ski shop in Bishkek - one specialises in backcountry. They were willing to take me around and share info but by that point I’d run out of time (and I was there in November so super early season). We hitchhiked up to the ski field each day and it was simple enough, one day met a bunch of Swiss skiers they live in KYG.
 
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nick12

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I spent some time skiing in Kyrgyzstan 4 years ago. Spent a week with Ryan and the 40 tribes crew and had a great time despite going in the worst season and the snow being very limited. I would recommend it to anyone. The resort near Karakol was a great way to warm up before the week of Skinning and living in a yurt.
 

Mister Tee on XC Skis

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Tajikistan is on my list of places to visit. High Mountains, Central Asian / Persian culture, Persian language etc. and possibly some skiing. Has anyone been to Tajikistan and XC & /or BC XC skied there?
There is a ski resort that is doable as a day trip from Dushanbe !
I found this on the www

https://www.theoutbound.com/tajikistan/skiing/ski-at-safed-dara-in-dushanbe-tajikistan
"
Want to ski in Tajikistan?
You’ll need a great sense of adventure and some serious ski touring, snow safety and avalanche awareness skills. Plus you’ll need to go with a crew of equally skilled skiers and boarders, camp out in the wilderness and be prepared to be exposed to the elements. Guides are scarce and hard to come by, if there are any at all. Check in with Artuch Travel Mountain Adventures for more and be aware of travel alerts on SmartTraveller for Tajikistan."
 

Budgiesmuggler

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Have been to Tajikistan, have not been skiing there.

I was lucky to join a local trekking group, some locals and some aid workers who were based in Tajik and stayed in some local villages/houses. The locals told me of a guy who came out in winter to bc around the local hills. Sounds like he was a hit!
 

Mister Tee on XC Skis

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Have been to Tajikistan, have not been skiing there.

I was lucky to join a local trekking group, some locals and some aid workers who were based in Tajik and stayed in some local villages/houses. The locals told me of a guy who came out in winter to bc around the local hills. Sounds like he was a hit!
There are direct flights to Dushanbe from Iran, Istanbul and from Dubai. Tashkent has many inbound flights but Uzbekistan and Tajikistan are sworn enemies and have few direct transport options by air. Usually one must transit and change planes in Bishkek in Kirghizstan. I speak a bit of Persian/Farsi/Dari/Tajiki and would enjoy learning more while surrounded by Persian speaking people.
The ski resort just out of Dushanbe has green and blue level ski runs with a poma, a rope tow and a gondola.
 
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Budgiesmuggler

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There are direct flights to Dushanbe from Istanbul and from Dubai. Tashkent has many inbound flights but Uzbekistan and Tajikistan are sworn enemies and have few direct transport options by air. Usually one must transit and change planes in Bishkek in Kirghizstan. I speak a bit of Persian/Farsi/Dari/Tajiki and would enjoy learning more while surrounded by Persian speaking people.
The ski resort just out of Dushanbe has green and blue level ski runs with a poma, a rope tow and a gondola.

I flew to Uzbek, taxi to Tajik border, then flew to Dushanbe. Scary as fcuk flight on old Russian jet. Pilots asking if I have any vodka... before the flight. And I see them getting hammered.

I skied in Kyrgyzstan
 

Mister Tee on XC Skis

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Each time on international and domestic flights ( three in total, I seem to recall )that I took with Uzbekistan Airlines the entire plane full of passengers applauded when we landed safely.
I did not know whether to laugh or poo my pants!
 
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Budgiesmuggler

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The snow pack looks ripe for a slab avalanche or three . I am only interested in mild Nordic skiing not steep ski mountaineering and Alpine Touring. I would be happy to trek in Tajikistan.


The mountains are all shale rock - I saw many landslides even though there was no rain. At one point our car was being hit from falling rocks. Would be super scary avalanche conditions.
 

Mister Tee on XC Skis

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I flew to Uzbek, taxi to Tajik border, then flew to Dushanbe. Scary as **** flight on old Russian jet. Pilots asking if I have any vodka... before the flight. And I see them getting hammered.

I skied in Kyrgyzstan
Pakistan's private domestic carriers often use Aeroflot fire sale stock air craft. The interior of the fuselage and passenger areas often is still emblazoned with Cyrillic lettering rather than Persian/Urdu script.
 

freddy

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I found some info about Kazakhstan. No guarantees about its accuracy. FYI.

"1.) There is an official ski school in each of three major Ski Resorts (Shymbulak, Ak-Bulak, Oy-Karagay). For absolute beginner skiers, I recommen Oy-Karagay (previosuly known as Lesnaya Skazska). For free-ride, I strongly recommend Ak-Bulak. For everything else (especially speed descents) - Shymbulak. Please not however, that you chose the coldest time of year (February) - the temperatures in town might go down to -30C (I am not saying they WILL, I am saying they MIGHT). I can almost guarantee -20C though. On top of that, Shymbulak is very elevated, so subtract 10 more degrees. This is not designed to scare you off, but to say come prepared with all warm clothes and 100% face coverage for skiing (ie googles, scarf etc). You will not be able to ski like in Switzerland with open face (unless your face is made of steel). I shall underline that you will not feel the cold if you're dressed properly. That number is not as scary as it seems.

Most ski schools are good, and most instructors at Shymbulak speak English; some instructors at Oy-Karagay speak english (one that I know in person); prices range between $30 and $50 per an hour of instructions. Expect to take 2-4 hours daily if you're really into it. I found instructors at Shymbulak and Oy-Karagay quiet good when I was learning to ski.

Vegeterian and all "normal" european food is available in Kazakhstan and is easily accessible. There are major fast-food chains, and there are plenty of restaurants downtown which offer european cuisine - should be no trouble.""

Can't give advice on what to do for kids - I haven't been a kid since a while.

Rooms are very nice for the price you're paying typically - and yes, they are warm. Shymbulak hotel for example, is located in a Soviet-era building. What that means is that it has meter-thick walls, and it's always warm inside."
 

buckwheat

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We were in shymbulak in mid feb and it wasnt super ccold, maybe -10 up top. Views were spectacular, vert was huge (1000m), pitch was good, but variety a little lacking. Def worth it if you're passing through as we were, but not a ski destination in itself. OTOH if you toured behind the resort there's a lifetime waiting!
 
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