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 8, 26/07/08: Tien Shan
Up at 5:00am to start melting the snow for water; we sampled the delights of our dehydrated hot breakfast cereal - Mmmm I thought it was lovely, very filling, nobody else seemed to share my opinion; certainly beats having to make & cook the stuff yourself!
We left our tents pitched & took day packs to climb a practice peak; really exciting because it was allegedly an unclimbed. The climb involved a steep initial section of moraine bashing before we reached the snow line. Once onto the snow it was like I suddenly came to life - this is what I absolutely love doing! The slope itself was fairly steep & I would say the exposure was relatively mild, nothing I thought too traumatic. Unfortunately it had completely freaked our youngest member. The poor lad was crying clinging on unable to move, our guide kept trying to make him see sense, but he was starting to panic saying, 'I don't like this, I don't want to do this anymore!' Eventually he was put on a short rope and was basically led down like a dog.
The rest of us continued further up to the ridge, a height (according the Bionic watch) of 4600m; admittedly I was still feeling it a bit on my lungs but gradually I was starting to wake & the feeling was great! We traversed down, with some sections requiring a quick repel (well a friction wrap around our arms); the snow was fast becoming extremely soft in the midday sun & we were starting to punch threw.
The minute we returned to camp we began melting water for the group and packing up the tents. By the time the others returned everything had been sorted & packed, so we drank some tea & began our long walk back down the glacier. It was a gloriously hot day & again we were roped up for the duration of the walk. The whole way back I had one eye on the route up Chapeynev & for the first time since getting here I thought, I'm ready...I have no demons & I'm determined I'm going to do this peak...bring it on!
When we reached base camp Mischa had brought out freshly cut watermelon, in the heat it tasted so good and what a scenic backdrop to eat it against! We later sorted some gear, chilled out & ate dinner; for our guide, being a vegetarian this consisted of sweet corn & tinned peas! Ha bet he can't wait to get onto that mountain & start eating dehydrated food!