2 AM, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan: Stepping out of the airport in the middle of the night, fully loaded with ski bags, two heavy trolleys, backpacks and ski boots in our hands, we were cordially welcomed and immediately surrounded by a crowd of taxi drivers who offered their service.
They couldn’t believe us not being in need of a taxi- but this was the reality. Instead, we were searching for a stranger, who would hand over the keys for the Toyota Hilux, we had rented from a friend’s mother for the next two weeks.
After 2h on the road, passing some smaller towns and villages, we made the last fuel stop (knowing that the next gas station is on the other side of the pass), before finally driving up into the mountains. There was no snow on the street of the M41, the Pamir highway, that is leading all the way from Kyrgyzstan via Tajikistan, Uzbekistan to Afghanistan and also the mountains were hardly covered in snow.
At the end of the pass, there was a small hole in the mountain- the entry to the Too-Ashu tunnel and the main access to the South of the country. We were excited! What was going to wait for us on the other side of the tunnel? Were we going to find more snow than on the north side of the mountain?
The tunnel was quite narrow, but nothing compared to the tunnels we experienced in Albania and Montenegro two years ago.
Finally, we made it through the 2500m long dark tunnel! Leaving the dark behind us, we had to get used to light again, but then we found ourselves in the most impressive Kyrgyz winter-wonderland. Having a car with four-wheel drive was definitely a good choice, as the road was finally properly snow covered.
While going down to the valley of Suusamyr, driving past more broken down trucks with snow chains, we spotted the small Too Ashuu ski resort, with its two chairlifts- but did not stop as we knew that the Suuslodge was near.
Finally, we arrived and were warmly welcomed by Azret and his family, as well as by a great 3-course meal. In the evening the other group- some friends from Dubai arrived as well. We were really looking forward to spend New Year’s Eve and the next couple of days with them skiing. The next morning we had an amazing and very relaxed three-course breakfast before we slowly packed our skiing gear: The mornings are below-20°C freezing, and everybody was happy not to start before the sun was completely out.
In a group of ten, we were full of excitement sitting in the cabin of the snow cat, where it was comfortable and warm. After another 20min ride the snow cat had made it to our first starting point- we were even more excited. What an amazing view down to the valley of Suusamyr and to the mountain chain on the other side of the valley. All mountains deeply covered in snow, the whole mountain range untouched. We jumped from the cat into the fresh and fluffy powder and could not believe the beauty of the scenery.
Bluebird! The skis were unloaded from the box outside and we were all ready for the first powder turns in this incredible terrain. After a check of our avalanche equipment, we followed Azret and skied down the untracked mountain full of joy!
After skiing down 500 meters in height back down to our start point we waited for some minutes, soaking up the beautiful landscape until the green snow cat had made its way down to collect us again for going up. What a perfect combination: Skiing down in the cold and then coming back into the warm snow cat, for going up again.
The day passed quickly and after some great rides, a tasty lunch was served.
Is there anything better than enjoying burgers, hot tea, and chocolate in this impressive landscape? Some more rides, every time in the fresh snow, passed quickly and we went back to the Suuslodge to prepare for New Year’s Eve.
After relaxing in our cozy rooms, we went into the huge living area, where Aida and the chief had already prepared an impressive amount and great variety of great looking traditional Kyrgyz dishes. We enjoyed different kinds of salads as starters and a great turkey as a main dish.
Similar to Europe, the guys had bought fireworks, and at 12 o’clock we went out into the freezing cold to celebrate New Year! What an awesome way to start into 2017!
After the flash visit to the Kyrgyz night, everyone was happy to be inside in the cozy warmth again and we were very touched by an eastern tradition: After 12 it is a custom to exchange presents and both of us got presents from the Russian family.
The next day, feeling not too bad, we decided during breakfast to drive to Suusamyr, the next village about 30km from the Suuslodge.
The landscape with the mountain chains, the suddenly appearing plateaus and the many horses with heads in the snow searching for grass were impressive.
Suusamyr instead was a sleepy little village, where there was not a lot to explore. Still, it was interesting to see that the people, who live in summer as nomads, settle down in the winter months to withstand the cold. Instead of cars, most people were riding horses or were using sleighs.
Coming back to the Suuslodge we took the snowmobile to discover more of the area, driving through the untracked snow we found a beautiful river delta, impressive plateaus that from a distance looked like descending fog but coming closer turned out to be elevated plains with more kilometres of length.
Just nature and no traces of other living beings except traces of animals in the endless snow. What a beauty this Suusamyr valley in Kyrgyzstan is!
After coming back and being chilled through, we were looking forward to a great dinner and to some rounds of Ping-Pong with the Kyrgyz chef- who almost was invincible!
We were excited about some more days of skiing. Every morning we woke up in our cozy bed and already could see the sun rise over the mountain, knowing that another great day of skiing in Kyrgyzstan was about to start.
Every single run, some longer due to hikes, turned out to be a blast and made us wish to stay longer.
For sure we will come back to Kyrgyzstan next winter! We totally fell in love with this landscape and the best powder we had experienced in the World so far! ■
For more information go to: www.fouropeneyes.com and www.suus.kg