Take a tour of the white city, with many of the buildings constructed in Soviet times from locally-sourced white marble. We will have a group dinner at a popular tea house with local musicians as we celebrate the beginning of our adventure.
We drive along the shores of the beautiful Issyk-Kol Lake, the second largest alpine lake in the world after Lake Titicaca. Our destination is the mountain town of Karakol, the main jumping-off point for exploring and climbing in the Tian Shan.
We transfer by road to Echkili-Tash to the beginning of the trek. We will drive to the valley of Sary-Jaz river along the mountain road through magnificent valleys of Turgen’-Aksu and Ottuk and over the Chon-Ashu pass (3822m).
We cross Sary-Jaz River using the bridge and then begin hiking up along the Tuz River to Sary-Jaz ridge. It is not difficult hike with small difference between mountain heights.
Crossing Tuz river, we hike to the bottom of Tuz pass, starting to really stretch our legs and get deeper into the untouched nature of the mountain range.
Crossing over the Tuz pass (4001m) we have an intensive day of 8-9 hours. Our group goes along one of the tributaries of Tuz river up to small glacier, then up the steep screed slope to the top of the pass. From the pass, there is spectacular view of the glacier: the Valley of Inylchek River and Inylchek-Too range, where just in front of the pass the snow-covered Nansen peak (5695m) is raised above. Further steep descents down the grassy slope to the Valley of Inylchek River, which is situated 1200m below the pass.
We walk along the Enilchek glacier for the first time to Glina camp (3400m).The glacier terrain is ice covered with rocks and stones, sand and mud.
We an explore the various terraces alongside our 10km of straight path to where wonderful views of Mertsbaher lake open to us from the camp. Mertsbaher glade is the last grassy place in the area located just across the unique Mertsbaher Lake where we will camp. There is a scientific research station on the glacier where scientists from all over the world come to work here every summer. They study the movement of the glaciers, as well as the meteorological situation of the region and the lake Mertsbaher itself.
We cross the South Inylchek glacier up to Mertzbacher Lake. The trekking time both ways is 5-6 hours. Sandwiched between the Northern and Southern branches of the glacier lies the mysterious Merzbacher Lake, which form every summer and then, sometime in August, burst through the ice banks and the waters flow into the Inylchek River (Actually, the timing varies – for example in 2012 it happened on 10, July).
In reality, only part of the lake drains – the lake, which is 6 kilometres long and one kilometre wide, is in fact divided into two by a bridge of ice and whilst the lower half empties regularly, the upper part is always full of water. In addition, the lakes empty twice a year – once in the summer and once in the winter – but most people only know about the summer event.
It is a long day of trekking surrounded with beautiful landscapes – snow, rocks and multi-coloured ice – black, white and sometimes even striped. The first part of our trek goes along the right side over terraces and, right before we reach Shokalskyi glacier it smoothly goes down. The trail reaches the glacier and the black moraine that flows out of Komsomolez glacier. We follow it up to the glacier itself. The terrain is very diverse: rivers, crevices, ascents and descents, the hikes around those take much time and energy. It will be our first night at the glacier. Strong wind usually starts here after 16:00 and it will be much colder here than before.
Trekking in this part of Tian Shan is absolutely fabulous. The distinctive characteristic of the region is a great number of nameless peaks, unclimbed yet, about 5000m above sea level. Straight from the camp we cross Proletarsky glacier moraine to the middle of Dikyi glacier moraine and walk along it up to the Dykyi glacier. Closer to the glacier the moraine becomes more even, without so many crevices and creeks. In front of Proletarsky glacier we go straight up. Dikyi camp is located 30 minutes behind Pesnya Abaya peak. From Dikyi camp you have beautiful view of Khan Tengri, Pobeda, Gorky, Chapaev, Trehglavaya peaks.
Walking near Zvezdochka glacier to the international Base Camp where we will make our base to trek up to some small peaks in the surrounding region.
Depending on how we feel we can hike up to M.Gorkogo peak (6050m), Chapaeva peak (6371m) and Han-Tengri peak (7010m) returning to base camp for the night.
As the title suggests, we walk up to the foot of Pobeda peak (7439m) and the Zvezdochka glacier, returning to our base camp to sleep.
We break camp and fly to the Karkyra camp by army helicopter with incredible views of the glaciers below us. We transfer to Karakol by road for a celebratory dinner and a hot shower!
Days 17 & 18: Stock days to allow for any delays in the programme
We drive back along the Mediterranean-like waters of Issyk-Kul Lake where we can stop off to swim in its warm mineral waters. Upon reaching Bishkek a bit of nightlife may be in order.