Words by Karlien Abbeel, pictures by Oreli Berthollier
‘Kyrgy…what?’ That’s the common reaction when I tell people about my trip to Kyrgyzstan – but that might just be the source of its beauty. Surrounded by a lot of other ‘stans and China, it’s dominated by the Tien Shan Mountain Range, where you find more than 40 peaks over 6000 metres. In the middle of all these giants, we found our home: a traditional yurt surrounded by the Celestial Mountains.
At first light, we worm out of the comfort of our sleeping bags and witness the pink sunrays hitting the mountaintops. Sticking the skins on our splitboards, we are keen as beans, and the mountains and beautiful views bring us happy vibes while we slide up. We are in the good company of Slava, local guide and legend. He likes to set himself challenges and recently he conquered Kyrgyzstan’s highest mountain – Pik Lenin, 7134m – with bare feet and skied down. He’s as fit as a fiddle, a kick-ass skier and he knows the mountains like the back of his hand. It’s a good feeling having him around, in a place far from rescue, where getting lost or getting injured can get you in real trouble.
“In the middle of all these giants, we found our home: a traditional yurt surrounded by the Celestial Mountains.”