Fly to: Almaty Kazakhstan
Internal Transfer: Almaty (Kazakhstan) to Karakol (Kyrgyzstan) in minibus (9hrs 30mins)
Karakol, Kyrgyzstan - Inylchek (9hrs) in an Ex-Soviet off road Military Truck
Ex-Soviet military helicopter flight up the Inylchek glacier (35mins)
Visa required: Yes if British for both Kazakhstan & Kyrgyzstan
Currency:Tenge (Kazakhstan) & Som (Kyrgyzstan)
Time Zone:+6hrs GMT
Day 10, 28/07/08: Tien Shan
Up at 4:00am this morning ready for our load carry up to camp 1; a very hard, exhausting day. Achilles aches like buggery & ascending the fixed rope sections was pretty knackering; more so as a result of altitude. The mountain definitely seems a lot less daunting once you're on it though.
We reached camp 1 & set up 2 tents on the edge of the snow/rock line; I'd followed up someone who had had a mare the entire way. They really seemed to make hard work of it and at times I found it difficult to watch due to the shear anguish they were going through; I did however try my best to talk them through the rope changeovers.
When I reached camp 1 the guide had already started digging a platform for the 2nd tent, he looked at me, I looked at the pitch & said 'I'm not convinced about it going there'; he looked at it again, wandered around a bit & then agreed, so a new location was chosen. Whilst up there we saw a massive avalanche off one of the neighboring, unclimbed peaks, the roar was simply breath taking; the power of nature really puts things in perspective.
We drank tea (& spat out the undissolved granules!) & I ate 3 chocolate bars whilst we sat at camp 1 (approx 4,500m) for 3hrs to help with acclimatization. The first section in our descent to base camp required an abseil; nothing too dramatic; I enjoyed actually being out and doing stuff but a members' bottle went on the abseil; she took an eternity to clear the rope.
In the end I went passed just clipping on a safety. The guide had said to make our own way down so I continued in a world of my own. I ensured I always had my safety on when on the fixed lines but apart from that I was more than comfortable on the slopes; I was almost at the glacial moraine when I looked back & realized the rest of the group were still at the 1st abseil; they basically hadn't moved! I didn't have a radio to check if everything was ok & so briefly experienced one of those, 'oh f*ck, perhaps I should have waited moments - oops!'
As we came across the glacier it became apparent how quickly it was melting, huge turquoise water-ways were opening up; extremely beautiful but it was making route finding on the glacier quite a tedious task.