take a group of international skiers and snowboarders to explore the resorts and mountains of Kyrgyzstan over the 2014 winter.
showcase Kyrgyzstan’s fantastic terrain and culture with top quality articles and photographs in market leading ski and snowboard magazines in the UK, Australia and New Zealand to promote Kyrgyzstan as a winter destination.
provide local guides with a course on backcountry safety and avalanche awareness as well as donating much needed ski and backcountry equipment helping the development of grass-roots winter tourism.
produce a style short ski film showcasing Kyrgyzstan’s snow, terrain and culture as well as the development of winter tourism around the country
Kyrgyzstan is a landlocked country in Central Asia. The mountainous region of the Tian Shan stretches to over 7,400 m (24,000 ft) and covers over 80% of the country.
At the corner of Asia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe Kyrgyzstan has the unique location of the worlds most inland country. This coupled with the most northern mountain range in the world over 7,000m creates both terrain and a dry consistent snow pack unparalleled anywhere else on earth.
The terrain, while perfect for freeride skiing and snowboarding, makes life difficult in this part of the world. Lacking the oil or infrastructure of its neighbours, and a huge portion of its landmass buried under permanent ice, there are few sources of income for the traditionally nomadic people. A painful succession from the Soviet Union and two further revolutions further weakened the economy, the third poorest in Central Asia.
While the country is home to a handful of ski resorts, relics of Soviet control prior to 1991, even greater opportunity for tourism lies in Kyrgyzstan’s endless backcountry. Mountain roads and alpine villages provide spectacular and easy access into free-ride terrain among the best on earth.
While a huge amount of effort has been put into training local guides for sum mer hiking, lack of training and avalanche awareness leaves many afraid to venture into the mountains in the winter.
Starting in the small town of Arslanbob, home of some of Kyrgystan’s best terrain we will explore the numerous high alpine shepherds huts dotting the mountains with the help of local guides. Heading North we will experience the other spectrum of Kyrgyzstan ski tourism, having a week in a snowcat out of the Suusamyr Valley. Finally we will finish the trip in the Tian Shan mountains high above Karakol and the Issyk-Kul Lake where we hope to push into the highest and most unchartered terriroty of the trip.
Along the way we will take the time to explore each of Kyrgyzstan’s 18 ski resorts and the accessible backcountry around the numerous mountain roads often reaching above 3000m to capture the full experience of skiing and riding in Kyrgyzstan.
Although Kyrgyzstan’s mountains and lakes are an attractive tourist destination, the tourism indus- try still makes up only a minor part of the Kyrgyzstan economy. In the last decade several inter- nation aid programs have tried to push investment into the tourism industry, in particular a Swiss sponsored program “Community Based Tourism” has been responsible for training hundreds of local villagers for summer guiding in the mountains.
Unfortunately winter tourism has largely been left behind. While many of the CBT guides are able to ski most lack the basic skills for safely entering the mountains in the winter. Avalanche education is almost non-existent. Our goal is to provide as many CBT guides as possible with a free course which will cover basic terrain analysis and group travel within the terrain, basic weather and its effect on avalanches, basic snow pack analysis and stability tests, as well as partner rescue. In addition we are seeking donations of beacons, shovels and probes which we will donate to course participants providing locals with the tools they need to begin the much needed development of winter tourism.