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 3, 21/07/08: Tien Shan
Breakfast at 9:00am - semolina with cinnamon, strangely quite a pleasant eating experience! Our guide rallied his troops & provided us with the list of food required to supplement the meals at base camp. I'm looking at the list thinking - 'this is absolutely insane, firstly the food on it isn't really suitable expedition food & secondly, there's no way anyone could consume that amount of food!' The shopping list had been prepared by Adventure Peaks & we received a wodge of Kyrgyz Som to foot the bill; let the shopping extravaganza begin!
We searched high & low for a building that resembled a supermarket - not a chance, it was quickly apparent that ex-soviet concrete buildings all have two things in common; a severe lack of windows & no individual identity! Give us a sign...a Mini-Markt...even a Tesco; with the Kyrgz written language being so very different this was going to be a very long day! Temperatures were soaring, and the intense dry heat was already at about 34 degrees. Eventually (like all good explorers) we hatch an infallible plan...we would stalk any woman carrying a bag!! So funny, as with the subtlety of a turd in a cocktail, one of us followed Old Russian women, trying to catch a glimpse at what they were carrying & where they'd come from. By total accident we managed to stumble across a 'version' of a supermarket (it'd only taken 2.5hrs!); bizarrely given away by some Kyrgyz lady carrying a 'Morrison's' carrier bag! Who'd have thought!?!
In we went armed with our shopping lists; in total we managed to fill 6 trolleys! There was only one check-out in the store & the girl looked like her world had just ended when she saw us crashing up the aisle! Some grumpy old guy joined the queue behind us, muttering under his 'eau de vodka' ridden breath...he was clearly thrilled at having to wait; he should've been thankful at least we didn't have coupons!
- 320 Chocolate Bars (Snickers, Mars & Picnics)
- 160 Cereal bars
- 100 Cake portions
- 5 Water melons
- 50 Oranges/apples
- 80 Tinned food (tuna, meat, sweet-corn)
The shopping list included:
Oh & someone chucked in some salted dried fish - errrgh!
Clearly this wasn't your bulk standard expedition food & I could see no way anyone of sound mind would want to carry tinned food up a mountain; let alone a water melon! Perhaps altitude really does make you go insane; bearing in mind this food was 'merely to supplement' our meals at base camp!
Half of us went to the 'other' Adventure peaks team hotel to collect our tents, stoves etc. When we got back to our hotel we agreed that it would probably be prudent to check the kit before we headed out into the mountains. Well...bloomin' good job we did! First appearence led us to believe we had 6 tents; however what was actually in the tent bags would only make 1 full tent! The tents hadn't even been put back in sets; this therefore involved another taxi ride back to the other hotel to go through to try & make as many 'full tent sets' as possible. Finally after much negotiation we ended up with the 6 tents, though they were badly worn-out with fairly invasive rips on the outer fabric - something that would need some attention! We had 2 mountain Hardwear tents and the rest were Terra Nova Hyperspace.
The other Adventure peaks team were an interesting mix, 9 of them were there to attempt the summit of Khan Tengri. One lad; two years my senior was telling me about his time on Vinson...Denali...Everest...the list just went on & on, I could have listened to him all day; then I said, 'hmmm the problem is having to work to fund all of these trips?' To which the response was, 'Oh no, I'm a professional mountaineer!' I later asked our guide, 'How do you become a 'professional mountaineer' then?' His response...'Have very rich parents!'
We loaded the now complete tents, along with the food & stoves onto the military trucks - man they look absolutely awesome, can't quite wait to get into the mountains!