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 12, 30/07/08: Tien Shan
Up at 7:00am for our last breakfast at base camp; we left camp at 10:30 to start the 1hr walk across the glacier to the foot of Chapayev. From the base the climb to camp 1 took approx 3hrs. This time I had to overtake on the rope to avoid distraction (mainly due to the fact I was paying more attention to whether other peole had done their safety's etc correctly when I needed to concentrate more on what I was doing). The ascent to camp 1 was basically 3 quarters unsupported traversing & a quarter on fixed rope; again the Achilles were constantly stretched to the max, though I enjoyed feeling the burn of actually doing something.
Eventually I caught up with a Russian climber who was clearly struggling so I figured I'd perform another 'over take' maneuver. Now this may sound easy but when you're only moving 10 steps at a time, its quite a respiratory challenge & to muster enough momentum to overtake takes a great effort - my breathing similar to an emphysema patient.
Finally we made it to camp 1; a couple of the guys & myself pitched the final tent & began melting snow whilst the others made their way up. After minimal effort we served up a hot noodle, dried vegetable & soup powder extravaganza - delicious even if I do say so myself.
There were a group Russians at camp 1 who had carried up proper film making cameras; turns they were filming for a Russian TV channel. One of them used a foam roll mat as a mould, filled it with snow & revelaed his creation as a giant chess table including snow chairs! Ha how cool & how very unusual?!
As we looked up towards the summit we could just make out some paraglide wings, a guy was attempting to glide from camp 2 down to camp 1; unfortunately he'd almost immediately crashed into the rocks causing a slight rock fall. That was his 1st & only attempt thankfully; I think otherwise we'd have yet another body going off this mountain.
The Russians were telling us about the 2 Polish climbers that had died; apparently one had left the tent (to go for a pee) wearing only his inner boots, he'd slipped & as his mate tried to grab him they were both carried over the edge - flip its unbelievably scary how simple decisions result in death; it also again brought home the camaraderie that develops between climbers. The weather today has been glorious, hot sun & very blue sky; the scenery absolutely stunning & we're just getting to a height level where we can see beyond some of the surrounding peaks - in one word...Awesome!