Carry on up the Pass

Chatyr-kol lake

Brief phone call  at 4 pm Kyrgyzstan time to say they were within striking distance of first  border control and the Yurt camp.The driving had been very hard and they were well above the snow line. They plan to stay  at the camp until Tuesday  morning. when they will be met at Chinese border. They have food, warm clothing and spirits are high. Yesterday David John and Simon drove miles  around the mountains ending up at  some wonderful  hot springs – a sort of jolly public bath.  Simon was  shrieked at and laughingly  thrown out of the women’s section when he wondered in, ? accidentally. So they are  also relatively clean.

On their way they pass Chatyr- kol a high mountain lake and also Tash Rabat an old caravanserai.

It is a 3 point border with 2 sets of controls 12 kilometres apart  in Kyrgyzstan with a desolate mountain  landscape in between before the Chinese border.

Tash Rabat caravanserai

 

 

 

possible yurt welcome?

 

 

 

We may not hear anything till they get to Kashgar- although they do have sat phones if there are any problems.

Thoughts on getting through Torugart Pass

Torugart Pass

9 a.m Rain just like Wales, quiet day going to walk to village and explore Tomorrow off to border for ( hopefully) our last night in Kyrgyzstan before the border crossing on monday. Tell all  friends canoeing in Wales next walking trip could be Kyrgyzstan!

6 p.m great ride to Cappy hot springs, 50 kms off piste fantastic riding with towering snow clad mountains. Big storm just missed us

Supper with Australian surrealist artist.

off at 00darkhundred for tour-u-bash yurt camp 50 kms from Chinese border.

10 p.m. Torugart very difficult bad road and snow. Australians coming the other way say bikes may be OK but don’t think van will cope with 12000ft altitude and deep ruts. May have to put chains on and drive up backwards because of frontwheel drive!

 

Please see fascinating  comments and video clips  from Jon and Bob

on Issyk Kul lake and the mine

 

Dispatches from Barskoon- the centre of the world!

The Barskoon area

The team are safe and possibly at the centre of the world ( see below)  but out of reach of wifi. They are staying in  the Barskoon/Tamga  area on the south shore of the Issyk Kul lake

10 a.m Text Luba suggest we take the mining road up to the Braskoon ravine and pass because we won’t get lost. After 3 kms along the south shore road we turn south onto a  paved road It is graded and sprayed with water most days. Locals live in their summer huts with their animals. Had a ride on a donkey

5 p.m Text. I biked today taking John’s machine to the top pf Braskoon pass at 3918 metres. Great ride, hundreds of hairpins and quite steep. We were well dressed which was good because by the time we got to the top it was snowing gently. Beautiful glaciers, torrents eagles etc. all quite breathtaking at the top and in view of snow we did not go to the upper lake or gold mine.

On the way down we were invited into a shepherd’s hut for tea.

all got back safely for supper!

Not sure about the Torugart pass yet- we think it is open but maybe not at week ends!

We all agreed this is the one place we have been to which we would definitely want to return to!

 Yuri Gagrin  also holidayed on the South shore of Issyk Kul. He did this  however after his historic first manned space flight.

Kumtor Gold Mine 

Located in  Tian Shan mountains at more than 4,000 m (14,000 ft) above sea level, Kumtor is the second-highest gold mining operation in the world after Yanacocha  gold mine in Peru.The mine was linked to a major environmental incident in 1998 when a truck carrying 1,762 kg of  sodium cyanide (a chemical used to dissolve gold from granulated ore, the use of which is highly controversial) fell into the Barskaun River  on the way to Kumtor. No fish for quite a while!

mining at high altitude

Still gives a lot of local employment now and website suggests is trying to reclaim its environmental friendly image- still shades of Nostromo though.

 

Barskoon is the centre of the world  according to the  11th century scholar Mahumud al-Kashgari (also known as Barskhani) was a native of this area. He is best known as the author of that famous best seller,  the  first Turkic languages comparative dictionary, which he wrote whilst living in Baghdad in 1072-4. His map of the then known world has Barskoon at the centre of the world!

 

 

Eagles and lakes and men in silly hats. Texts from Bishkek and Issyk Kul in Kyrgyzstan

May 16th 10 p.m.  Good day- got chinese visas of sorts – group visa though

great to meet up with Nathan yesterday ,  ( Harry’s friend who is biking  to Beijing!) . Russian operetta tonight- fantastic singing

May 17th

1 p.m. What a day, drove out of Bishkek early eastwards and then south towards China, cut through an enormous ravine to Lake Issyk Kul, 50 clicks along this azure lake a, great picnic on the beach. Second largest mountain lake in the world, Nearly got van stuck on beach

Lake Issyk Kul

 

2 p.m. Bowling along the side of this stunning  lake and meet a Swiss guy called Ernest on a moped. Guess what he knew about us because he had been staying at Nathan’s hostel. He is a carpenter from Zurich and is taking two years to go round Asia

He says Tour U Ghat ( the pass into China) is closed OMG. ( we are now frantically checking)

3 p.m. Another 50 clicks and I can’t believe it 4 guys at the side of the road with kyrgy hats on and bloody great eagles sitting on their arms. They were having a sandwich after hunting. They jessied up the eagles and got them fever pitch ready to launch. Got some fantastic photos of  magnificent eagles and men in silly hats. ( will have to wait for photos these are just poor substitutes)

Kyrg hats

6 p.m. Have arrived at hostel in Tamga on south shore of Issyk Kul absolutely  fantastic just like Vagabondes ( a rough and ready  hostel in Chamonix). Climbing hostel run by Luba and her ghusband who are both high mountain guides.The soviets never let them out of the Soviet union so they climbed all the 7200m peaks in Kyrguzsran. That’s 23;000 feet for christs sake; Luba does look quite beefy when she is dishing out the pickled cucumbers. Luba also does crochet and makes carpets.

Tomorrow early breakfast and then take the gold mining trail to a pass at 4200 metre, vroom vroom

10 p.m.

David Norgrove would be in 7th heaven  here, uncomfortable dorms and communal  bathroom, cold at 8 degrees and 3000ft

Luba has a fantastic craft shop with felt carpets and silly Kyrg hats. Tomorrow take the trail made by the Canadians to find gold.

Apparantly road is quite good- everyone one went a bit quiet when I asked if Luba’s husband takes people ice climbing- maybe next time! Great place, no hotels, bars or people really for at least 50 miles!.

 

love to all

Simon

Map of Issyk Kul lake