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 13, 31/07/08: Tien Shan
Up at approx 5:00am; leaving at 7:00am with our load carry to camp 2. An excruciatingly painful day! Altogether an arduous slog all on fixed ropes with some vertical ice/rock climbs. Achilles & legs were burning, the sun was scorching & at times the fixed ropes felt & looked like they wouldn't support the tension that was put on them - there was high exposure on the vertical sections. I for one certainly experienced a few 'wobbly Elvis leg' moments.
The pace was extremely slow due to the quantity of rope changes and more importantly the altitude. I got to camp 2 at approx 3:00pm & was met by 3 other members; the guide decided to call 'time' & radioed the rest of the team telling them to turn around as they wouldn't make camp 2 today - gutting as the load carry was split meaning we couldn't even put the tents up.
Just as we began to descend another member appeared - absolutely f*cked! Our guide headed down 1st in order to meet the remaining members & help them bury their loads; this way we wouldn't have to re-carry tomorrow.
On the way down we with met with a few of the others who were struggling with the abseil; I checked off their systems, telling them to lean back & trust the rope. I watched all of them down safely & then as I went to set up my own abseil realised the rope was too wide for my belay plate! F*ck f*ck f*ck, I'd just offered my assistance & now i was stuck at the top of a vertical drop unable to friggin' abseil down (damn that's why I needed the bigger figure of 8 abseil piece - now it makes sense).
Right I thought, compose yourself girlie...'the rope won't fit through the belay plate...so that options gone...I've got no friggin radio...so I'm on my own...think...think...think...Italian Hitch knot...right keep thinking! So I set up an Italian hitch to belay off, brilliant its working...sadly though only for about 5mins; the hitch was causing the fixed line to wrap around making it impossible to release! F*ck, don't really want to die today! The guide shouted to make an abseil system using 3 karabiners; I'd fed the rope through them to created enough friction for me to abseil off. My heart was in my mouth but the buzz I felt when I finished the abseil section was immense!
Got back to base camp 1 at 8:00pm; just as the sun was setting behind the mountains - breath taking view, hard to believe I'm actually stood here doing this in these surroundings. For dinner I had a dehydrated 'chicken Korma' - good choice it was delicious; I was absolutely knackered & my legs were fully aware that they'd done a good days work.