Backcountry on Terskey Alatau

The idea to do trekking across Arabel and Suyek mountain passes, located up to the Barskoon valley was discussed quite long ago. Therefore, I was happy to receive a phone call from “Mountain Pro” with proposal to work on the position of a second guide and a driver at the Backcountry camp.

I love to participate in such events. This area is quite new for the ski touring – I would say, this is a pilot project with limited number of participants. The fact that this base camp was founded by people who know a lot about backcountry is a big advantage.

Let me switch to the report before it turned to the trivial advertisement.

Backcountry camp operating period: from April 29 through March 8, 2012.

Camp location: Issyk Kul Oblast, South of Issyk Kul lake, Barskoon valley, 20 km away from Barskoon village.

Skiing location: Tersky Ala-Too ridge, in the area of Arabel and Suyek mountain passes, 40 km from the Camp.

Slava and Pavel as initiators of this tour went to the destination for tents installation and Camp arrangement. I went to the airport to meet participants. On the city border I received information over the phone, that two of our participants missed their flight and will not arrive. I could do nothing about it, hence, when I met other people we loaded equipment to Mitsubishi “Delica” and headed to the long-expected snow covered slopes. Passing by flowering valleys, looking at the green grass that turns yellow locally I noticed skeptical glances.

When approaching Camp, the rain that started earlier turned to snow. It was a great surprise to me.

Tents below high spruce trees were covered with snow. Before midnight the snow stopped. After a long trip we decided sleep longer next morning.

Next day after breakfast and quick preparations we started to the ski place. On the way from Camp to the starting point we were amazed with the number of serpentines (I counted more than 30) and elevation changes (up to 2000 m).

Before the first ascending we instructed participants on the avalanche safety, equipment and rules of conduct in group. For the ascending we selected average height slope with a smooth uphill gradient covered with scree debris and a snow covered slope with vertical drop up to 300 meters. In spite of desire of participants to rush and climb we explained that acclimatization is required for the altitude of 4000 meters and higher. Very soon they realized how important it was.

After we reached the certain altitude, we discussed the corridor for down-run and started skiing. New snow that covered bottom layer was good for skiing and by common consent we decided to do another run.

After skiing we loaded equipment to the car and went back to the Camp for dinner where we tasted Duty Free drinks, shared impressions and had a nice discussion about rounds. That was brief description of one of the eight days in Camp.

First few days all participants were stroke with variety of meals prepared by our cook Olesya. Since acclimatization normalized, all of us started asking for additional portions.

Every next day we selected more complicated slopes and longer tracks.

Trekking with the use of snow-shoes we combined with on foot hiking. So everyone could try both – ski-tour (that rock) and snow-shoes.

Number of rounds was decided by participants depending on personal health and weather conditions (from two to four in average).

It was necessary to reserve more energy for the evening entertainment that was also impressive. We visited hot springs with radon water known with its therapeutical effect. I cannot express my impressions. Just imagine – after a day, spent in the mountains, you soak into hot pool where you can release tension from your muscles, relax and wash out sweat and fatigue.

In the mornings we go out to the slopes looking for new tracks and routes.

Tiredness was accumulating little by little and we decided to arrange rest day. What kind of rest without sauna? What sauna goes without beer? A rest is not an easy task.

On the back way to the Camp we made a stop on the Issyk Kul shore to feel the water and to dream about swimming in the lake after sauna.

In the evening after postprandial nap we practiced to search beepers in the environments which are far from real ones.

At the end of a day as obligatory program, we cooked barbeque made of young lamb (I afraid too young). Straight after that we did what Pasha calls “kid’s party”.

Next day, after good rest we headed to the new slopes, the complexity of which was growing together with the experience of all participants. We smiled when recollected those slopes which we considered tough at the first days of skiing.

That how we spent those remarkable days at first Backcountry Camp in May, at Teresky. I would like to thank managers and initiators for the chance to work here and appreciate all participants for a nice company.