In Up To Our Necks: South Inylchek Glacier Trek, August 2013
A good travel story is worth telling even if the events took place nearly three years ago. We also noticed that there wasn’t too much information out there about this trek from the perspective of non-expeditionist backpackers. We hope you enjoy the crazy tales and awesome photos.
What better way to prepare for a friend’s wedding in South Kazakhstan than going on the demented Inylchek Glacier trek into the heart of the Tien Shan mountains in Kyrgyzstan? Yes, it sounds rather ridiculous to us now too in hindsight! But, that is precisely what we did.
We super excited when our friends, Eric from Seattle and Assela from Kazakhstan, told us they were to be wed in the bride’s hometown of Kulan, 400km west of Almaty. The wedding and related activities would take up four days but we weren’t going to fly all the way there and not check out more of the area. We had always wanted to do an extended Central Asia trip and this was a perfect opportunity to test the waters.
We looked at the map and figured we could visit the Tien Shan mountains across … Read more
After much deliberation, we finally took the plunge and booked our flights to Nepal. Hiking in Nepal has always been a highlight of previous long trips to Asia and we were really looking forward to going back. Nepal always seemed to be bedeviled by strife and this year seemed no different. The devastating earthquake has been well documented at home but the recent fuel crisis (or blockade by India) has garnered considerably fewer headlines. It seemed that Nepal would be a no-go this year.
But something kept nagging us to go. Media images of post-earthquake Nepal seemed to suggest a country in total ruin. The current fuel crisis suggested a country on the verge of running out of vital commodities. As ever, Nepal always seems to cope with whatever shit is thrown at it. For sure, we saw plenty of collapsed buildings and the lack of gas pushed up transport and food prices but, on the whole, life went on as usual. Sadly, when Nepal is really in need of a ‘business as usual’ attitude from foreigners, … Read more
We stayed on Gili Air for 8 days. This was a few more days than intended but we could have stayed for weeks. However, the call of the mountains is always nagging us for attention so having looked at Gunung Rinjani for a week, we figured it was time we climbed it.
We arranged our Rinjani climb with the original trek leader for the mountain, Mister John. His outfit is not the cheapest but we were impressed that they were a little more environmentally aware than many of the competitors. Mister John picked us up at Bangsal, the mainland port opposite Gili, and took us up to his mountain lodge in Senaru. The lodge was a little more deluxe than we are used to but it was included in the package. The lodge was perched up on a ridge with great views of the rice fields and forests below.… Read more
Besh Kol trek in the Alay Valley, South Kyrgyzstan
July 19-21, 2015
Our third hike in Kyrgyzstan was the three-day Besh Kol trek (Five Lakes) heading north from the village of Sary Mogul. Sary Mogul is a 3-4 hour drive south of Osh. The main feature of the area is the massive 7000m Pik Lenin and its attendant peaks. We had hoped to do a couple of hikes in the area but unfortunately we were hit by the first rainy and cloudy weather of our trip. We managed to complete the Beshkol trek but bailed on a second hike around Tulpar Kol, which is a lake right beneath the giant peaks of the Alay Valley.
Information about the Besh Kol trek was hard to come by. The CBT office in Sary Mogul sent us a lengthy document with short outlines of many treks in the region, but it didn’t include a map, photos or information about distances, altitude, or relative difficulty, so it was hard to know which hike to pick. We decided to confirm our itinerary once we got to the village. The Alay area regional CBT coordinator based in Osh, a fine gentleman named Talant, gave us a … Read more
Hiking is one of our great loves so we will be aiming to hit as many trails as we can in the next 16 months. At home, we try to hike most weekends in the Summer plus a few weekends snowshoeing in the winter. We hike following well defined trails plus we arm ourselves with detailed trail descriptions and clear maps. To prepare for hiking we have access to an abundance of recent trail descriptions so that we can be fairly sure that the trail is within our capabilities. We have rarely, if ever, undertaken a hike that is beyond our capabilities. We can be thankful for the Washington Trails Association and local hikers for the fantastic trail work they do and information they provide for hikes in the Cascades and Olympics.
When we hike overseas we usually take a guide and sometimes a porter (or horse/donkey and horseman) for their local knowledge of trails. Many of the world’s famous trails in the Himalaya and Andes are well-documented but we found that this is not the case in Central Asia. For some reason, writers of guidebooks (Lonely Planet and Bradt) provide useful detail for hiking to Everest Base camp, the … Read more