Saturday, March 15, 2014


Caravan across Chai-Naanistan

     Tea and bread, you cannot escape it in Kyrgyzstan. That and invites home to sleep with the family are a couple of my favorite things about this country. Our taxi driver, Iliaz, who speaks absolutely no English is a wonderful example of Kyrgyz generousity and hospitality. Despite the fact that his three word vocabulary- "hello, Mr. John" severely limits communication (and my slim Kyrgyz does not help),
he is unrelenting in his requests that we stay at his home, enjoy a free taxi ride to the airport and "talk" on Skype when we return to the United States of America. Mr. Iliaz, you are a gem!

Iliaz and his wife Tamara. Eventhough you almost killed us, we appreciate your generousity!

     After more than two months on the road travelling through southern Kyrgyzstan and China, Bishkek feels positively cosmopolitian. Back at Interhouse Hostel to connect our circle and complete the first third of our big adventure, we are not quite ready to give up on winter and skiing, despite the coming Naurvooz (Spring Equinox) celebrations and decididly transitional weather. We were fortunate to meet up with a new friend, Mark Novacs, a Romanian living in Kazakstan,visiting Kyrgyzstan, who was game for adventure and had his ski gear with him. I'm not sure he knew what he was getting into by hitching his pony to our little cart, but off we all journeyed to Suusamyr (2-3 hrs South and 4,500ft above Bishkek) for four days of skiing and exploring.
With Mark, high above the Suusamyr valley on the summit of Belaya Grud' 3,800m.

       Once we broke through the valley fog, we found glorious blue skies, snow capped peaks as far as the eyes coulds see in every direction and inescapeable sunburn. We saw the same avalanche conditions we've seen everywhere in Central Asia - super weak facets on the ground with a thick solid slab on top. A classic continental snowpack in the middle of the largest continent on earth!
Suusamyr peaks rise above the clouds

       With sunny and warm weather, altitude and aspect were our friends and we found great dry corn conditions on high and North facing slopes. Once again, it felt like we were alone in a sea of untracked snow.
Our guardian angel in Suusamyr

      Our tolerance for mutton finally bottomed out during our stay in the Suusamyr Valley. After one visit to the only restaurant in town, we decided to opt for the healthy choice to fuel our adventures. We powered through our alpine days on a steady diet of dried noodles, Yak Yak bars and my new favorite condiment - canned sweetened condensed milk, which, combined with a couple teaspoons of instant coffee, makes a fine frontcountry latte.
Naurvooz celebrants in downtown Bishkek

     The greatest benefit of travelling without a plan, is adaptability. In this spirit we find ourselves today in an endless sea of a different kind. Birkas and turbans as far as the eye can see in every direction, this time at the Dubai airport on our way to Katmandu for a six weeks vacation from our central asian vacation. Thanks to everyone for following us! More to come soon!
Mountaineers' Hut on the trail to Ala Archa


  1. Anonymous18.7.14

    Somebody built a tacky metal shack addition to the cool rock hut since I was there last about ten years ago.

  2. Still a cool spot though, huh?