SEEKING BALANCE - FINDING ADVENTURE IN KYRGYSTAN
A solid crew of lady shredders from Canada and New Zealand is about to embark on a new kind of journey. A journey sparked by their common love of exploring the mountains on foot and the addiction of gliding down them with grace. The focus of their trip will be the Tien Shan Mountain Range in Kyrgyzstan - they look to its people, and its snow.
Words by Nicole Mesman
We are a group of three inspired female skiers, like many of you out there reading this, seeking a different adventure. We all have careers and enjoy getting out and being inspired by nature at every possible opportunity; after work, every weekend, you know how it goes. We’re always keen to push ourselves in the mountains, tackling new challenges each winter in the Southern Alps. Our goal this January is to challenge ourselves to explore a new region of the world using the mode of transport we love the most, skiing.
We are also very interested in learning about communities and their changing environments, their history, practices and the challenges they are facing today. For these reasons we set upon by far our largest challenge yet to Kyrgyzstan to ski an offset of the Tian Shan mountain range, At Bashi.
Our route options will take us on a 10-day adventure into some exciting terrain not yet explored via ski, where we can experience the scale of this area, their peaks, snow conditions and glaciers. We plan on completing some first descents of some of the larger peaks in the At Bashi range. We also plan to talk to locals along the way and learn from them about their environment, daily life and challenges they are facing as a result of climate change so that when we go home we can share this story. The Tian Shan mountains cover 80% of the Kyrgyzstan with the remainder being valleys and basins which funnel water from the range. This water source is incredibly important, not only for Kyrgyzstan’s agriculture and their traditional nomadic lifestyle, but for the surrounding countries which also receive water from these tributaries.
We’ll set off in mid-January but in the meantime, we are well into our preparation, which has been a challenge itself. Thanks to the Mountain Tactical Institute we have a specific physical training programme to turn us into human packhorses. We’ve been spending hours on google earth plotting various routes, deciding what is safe, what is achievable and estimating the timing and food requirement for each leg. Being lightweight will be key and so we are grateful to have Backpackers pantry supporting us with some meals. We’re busy trying to source as much lightweight yet warm gear as possible second hand, which has been easier thanks to funding help from the NZAC.
We’re aware of the environmental impact of flying to Kyrgyzstan and so we’re making plans with Te Kakano native plant nursery to offset our carbon emissions upon our return. We’re documenting this project as we go. We would like to produce a video of the project to show others that adventures are out there for everyone to enjoy, and also to document the challenges faced on other parts of the world. If you would like to follow us in our lead up to this trip and after to see how the adventure goes and what we learn along the way check out our social media pages. We have started a Blog which depicts our adventure as well as an Instagram and Facebook pages to publicise our progress leading up the trip.