Last February, a group of 15 Norwegian backcountry enthusiasts traveled to Kyrgyzstan for a 6-day ski touring adventure across the Terskey Mountains. Andrey, a local KMGA/IFMGA-certified mountain guide they hired through Explore-Share, and two colleagues led the crew to some of the best off-piste spots in the Karkara ski area.
“Andrey was a great guide. From the moment we booked the trip until we arrived at Kyrgyzstan, he was available to answer all of our questions”. (Andreas)
More than 90 percent of Kyrgyzstan is covered in mountains. Often referred to as an “Asian Switzerland”, it features vast gorges and massive snow-capped virgin peaks that stand at an average of 3,000 meters. Its Terskey Mountains (also known as Terskey Ala-Too or Terskey Alatau) extend for over 350 kilometers in the northeast of the country, within the Tian Shan range, also branded as the Heavenly Mountains. Tian Shan is one of the largest systems of mountain ranges in the world, stretching over 2,500 kilometers through China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan, in Central Asia.
The Norwegian group met with the guides in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, and set out on a ski tour in the Karkara ski area, located at 2,200 meters, on the border between Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. Karkara’s remote slopes offer endless backcountry terrain for all levels and outstanding almost-untouched powder snow!
During the ski tour, travelers were stationed at the Karkara Ski Tour Base Camp, located on a beautiful white valley surrounded by pine-tree-covered mountains. The camp offered comfortable cottages (even with saunas!) and yurts, the typical circular tents built of skin or felt over a wooden frame, which made travelers experience traditional nomadic culture firsthand.
The itinerary included visiting three top ski touring sites in the area: Tup Valley, Tuz Gorge, and Uchkashka. For those interested in easing the ascent to remote areas, two snowmobiles were available for transporting skiers or equipment.
“We were a bit unlucky with the snow conditions. But the area definitely offers varied terrain, with great potential for ski touring”. (Andreas)
This trip is a great winter vacation for single travelers, as well as for families and groups of friends. Ski touring in Tian Shan, one of Asia’s least-visited mountain regions, is a great way to share an offbeat exciting adventure in contact with nature and far away from the crowds. Moreover, Kyrgyzstan is not very touristic yet, and is currently visa-free for around 45 countries, making it one of the easiest Central Asian places to visit.
Traveling with a professional mountain guide will make the experience a lot richer. As Andrey did, a local guide will take care of all of the trip’s logistics, watch for your safety in the mountains, help you improve your ski touring skills, lead you to remote backcountry areas no one else knows, and even share with you some interesting facts about the country’s history and culture.
“I would recommend this trip to anyone wanting to ski in a country they would never expect to travel to”. (Andreas)
If you are still hesitant and would like to consider other expeditions in Kyrgyzstan, check out a list of the top 5 mountain activities in the country, for every season and time of the year. If you have already made up your mind for a ski trip, take a look at these fascinating ski touring adventures in Kyrgyzstan.
Need more inspiration? Enjoy more great pictures of this exciting ski trip in the Terkey Mountains!