A 4-week ski mountaineering adventure to climb Muztagh Ata (7,546m / 24,757ft) - one of the most accessible 7000m peaks.
This is a rare opportunity to join Nick Parks (IFMGA Mountain Guide) and a small group of ski mountaineers on an expedition to one of the world's great 'ski' peaks.
The ascent is a reasonably straightforward climb on snow and ice – really a high altitude walking route and the elevation is never more than 40 degrees.
We'll be climbing via the lesser known 'Tashi' route which has been recommended as the normal route has become badly polluted due to its popularity. It is no more technical than the normal way and eminently more interesting than joining the crowds.
Muztagh Ata is located in China’s Xianjiang province in the far western section of the Pamir Mountain Range close to the borders of China, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan.
The mountain dominates the surroundings – its glaciated summit looms up to 2 miles over the Subashi valley. It is located close to the old ‘silk road’ and despite the barren, remote landscape it is a stunning area.
Muztagh Ata is a technically straightforward mountain, but one which requires stamina and determination to cope with long days.Anyone wishing to join the expedition must have:
Fly out from the UK to Bishkek. We will be met on arrival and travel by road to Naryn, Naryn is in central Kyrgyzstan and the main road (one of the branches of the ancient Silk Road) runs south through the sparsely settles central Kyrgyz highlands to the Torugart Pass and China.
We stay overnight in Naryn in a Guest House or Yurt Camp.
We continue our journey east to the Torugart Pass, crossing the Kyrgystan - China boarder. Tonight’s accommodation is typically in a hotel.
We transfer by road to Kashgar/Subashi which is a 200km road journey taking around 4-5hours. The drive is along the Karakorum Highway following the narrow gorge of the Gez River and ascending to an altitude of 3900m by the shores of the Karakur Lake. Accommodation on this night is in tents or yurts.
We begin the trek to base camp today, starting with a short drive to Subashi to meet the camels, from here we trek over the plain and climb steadily through the barren hills to the base camp. Approximately a 4 hour walk. We camp overnight.
Climbing and acclimatisation on Muztagh Ata. This requires building and supplying three high camps. Meals are provided at the base camp only.
We should have 4-5 days available for summit ascents which is dependent on the weather conditions.
Camp 1 is at about 5400m
Camp 2 is at just over 6000m
Camp 3 is at about 6,800m
The climb to the top should take 5-6 hrs from camp 3 and the plan is to return back to camp 2.
Day in Kashgar. This is a sightseeing day in Kashgar, the tour includes the tombs of Abakh Hoja, the well known Kashgar Bazaar, the famous Mosque and the most unique old town with typical Uyghur styled homes.
We travel from Kashgar to the Torugart Pass by road, we cross the Chinese - Kygystan boarder. Onward trasnfer by road to Naryn where these is guest house or yurt accommodation.
Transfer from Naryn to Bishkek. Hotel accommodation.
Transport to Bishkek airport and return flights to the UK.
|Sat 18 May||Tue 11 Jun||Sat 18 May
- Tue 11 Jun
The price includes:
The price does not include:
For all touring trips it is essential you ski with an all-mountain/freeride type skis, ski touring boots and ski touring bindings. If you have your own skis but they do not have ski touring bindings then you will need to rent skis. The same applies if you have downhill ski boots, you will need to rent ski touring boots.
For alpine ski touring we recommend an all-mountain/freeride touring ski that isn’t too heavy, a really lightweight ski comes at a cost to performance on the descents so are only recommended for really good off-piste skiers with a strong interest in ski touring.
There are plenty of great skis to choose from and we highly recommend skis from the following manufactures:
Dynastar Skis: www.dynastar.com
Movement Skis: www.movementskis.com
Black Crows Skis: www.blackcrows-skis.com
Trab Skis: www.skitrab.com/en-us
Scott Skis: http://www.scott-sports.com
Volkl Skis: http://www.voelkl.com
If you are planning on buying skis for ski touring and general skiing and have any questions do not hesitate to call us to discuss the options available to you.
It is essential that you have ski touring boots for all touring trips as walking up hill is much more comfortable in these types of boots with a walk mode and great flex. A dedicated touring boot or a hybrid freeride boot is best.
Avalanche airbag rucksacks can be used for touring but they are heavy, adding somewhere between 5-8kg just for an empty pack plus canister. So unless you are sure you can carry it and fit all you need in, we do not recommend you use one.
Over a long multiday tour every gram of weight is important as you have to carry and move it yourself. Carrying a heavy pack will hinder and tire all but the most experienced and fit ski tourer.
Food and Water
We suggest you bring with you or buy in resort snack food that you can take out on the hill with you each day. Things like cereal bars, dried fruit and nuts, chocolate, sugary sweets or your favorite hill snacks. When you’re staying overnight in huts its best to take supplies for the days you are away. Huts do sell food but it’s expensive and sometimes stocks run low.
If you have any food allergies or dietary requirements especially if you are a Coeliac (Gluten free) or have a dairy allergy we strongly recommend you bring some food with you that you can supplement your dinners with. The huts are fairly good at providing for vegetarians but less so for other dietary needs.
You have to buy bottled water in the huts as usually any running water is non-potable. Bottled water is expensive in French and Swiss huts; you can be paying upto 12-16CHF per 1.5L bottle of water. So please ensure you budget for this cost.
The “Safety Trilogy” - required on all our ski tours and off-piste courses.
The arrival airport is Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan.
There are 3 routes available:
1. Via Moscow tihe Aeroflot.
2. Via Istanbul with Turkish Airlines.
3. Via Astana in Kazakhstan with Air Astana.
Flight examples are based around a July trip e.g.
Gatwick out 7th and back 31st
07JUL LGWIST 1700 2250
08JUL ISTFRU 0040 0845
31JUL FRUIST 0645 0940
1JUL ISTLGW 1355 1600
If from Heathrow :
07JUL LHRIST 1620 2205
08JUL ISTFRU 0040 0845
31JUL FRUIST 0645 0940
31JUL ISTLHR 1245 1440
Flight prices will be in the region of £400 - £500 return. Furthur details to follow shortly (17/10/17)
You should consult your GP well in advance of travelling or a vaccine specialist for professional advice. You can also visit the website http://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/home.aspx
Typically the following vaccinations are recommended: Polio, Tetanus, Typhoid, Hepatitis 'A'. Malaria is not required.
Water that is not from a sealed bottle should never be drunk without first sterilizing with chlorine tablets or by boiling.
You should ensure you bring your own first aid kit which should include plasters, blister kit (compeed), paracetamol, throat lozengers, insect reellant, anti-itch cream and any other medication you are taking.
The currency in Kyrgyzstan is the Som (KGS), but typically the US Dollar is king! We suggest you bring cash in US$ as spending money, there are ATM's in Bishkek and you can change money locally. Currently 1 KGS = 0.01457 USD
The Chinese Yuan Renminbi (CNY) is the currency of China, currently 1 CNY = 0.151 USD
Local payments to porters and for tips to expedition staff should be done in US Dollars, so please consider this when budgeting for your trip.
British nationals don't need a visa to enter and stay for up to 60 days.
Your passport should be valid for a minimum of 3 months from the date or entry into Kyrgyzstan adn must have at least 1 full blank page if you are applying for a visa.
Yellow fever certificate requirements
Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate but this should not be necessary if you're travelling from the UK and only transiting through an airport enroute.
Our ground agent will be able to supply an Invitation Letter for Chinese Visa application if necessary.
China Visa Requirements - British Nationals need a visa to enter mainland China; you must get a visa prior to arrival. For details of entry requirements to China contact the Chinese Embassy or the China Visa Application Service Centre well before your proposed trip. You maybe asked to provide your previous passports in support of your application. Further details about visiting China can be found here on the Gov.uk website.
Accommodation will be in a combination of hotels (tourist class), local guests houses and camping. There will be base camp support and a mess tent for meals.
Its a fully supported expedition and we will have our own local cook, meals will be hearty, tasty and the cook can cater for some mild dietary requirements but you can't afford to be fussy. A lot of the meals will be stir-freid at base camp.
At basecamp we can expect our local chef to prepare us 3 hearty meals a day.
Breakfasts: porridge, eggs etc
Lunch and evening meals: Typical menu will be soup to start followed by a main dish of meat
with rice and vegetables.
Drinks and snacks: tea, coffee etc available all the time.
On the mountain: we will bring with us mountain meals, cook in the bag variety of which there
are many options
Our Introductory level is suitable for people who can ski red and black pistes in resorts without problems and you can deal with moguls and some ice. You will be new to off-piste skiing or maybe have dabbled a little on the sides of the piste or even attended a previous off-piste specific course. You would like to ski powder snow with confidence and learn to link turns off-piste in a variety of terrain as well as being able to control your speed and adjust your turn radius.
Introductory level ski touring trips are appropriate for people looking for their first touring experience. The pace is relaxed and typically we skin for 2-4hrs per day so ascents are about 500 - 800m vertical. You need to be a reasonable off-piste skier (at our Off-Piste Development level), able to link controlled parallel turns in powder snow and ski through trees in control. You need to be prepared to hike short sections on foot carrying your skis on your rucksack (though you won’t need any specific mountaineering knowledge, so crampons and an ice axe are usually not required).
Off-Piste Coaching and Adventure
For our Intermediate graded off-piste ski courses and trips you will have at least a couple of weeks off-piste skiing experience and /or received some previous instructions on an off-piste specific course. You can link 10-12 turns together in reasonable control, speed and style, following the fall line in most conditions. If you’re looking to improve your technique in deeper snow and steeper slopes then our Off-Piste Coaching Development trips are for you. These are instructor-led courses.
If you want to get some miles under your skis then look at our Off-Piste Adventure Intermediate trips which are led by our team of Mountain Guides. On the Adventure courses you can expect to hike or ski tour short distances to get to better snow and terrain, although no previous ski touring experience is required.
These tours will involve around 3-5hrs of skinning per day, achieving around 800 – 1000m of vertical ascent. We would expect you to be able skin to a pace of 300m of vertical ascent per hour. You need to be able to execute good uphill kick turns on steeper slopes and have some familiarity with use of crampons and ice axe. You need to be a reasonably strong off-piste skier able to deal with a variety of snow conditions (powder, crust, slush) and able to ski on steeper and narrower slopes with the requisite ability and confidence for exposed sections.
For our Advanced Off-Piste Coaching courses you should be an excellent piste skier and have many years experience of skiing off-piste. You should be able to ski off-piste in most conditions linking controlled parallel turns, ski bumpy terrain, trees, narrow gullies and enjoy pushing yourself to achieve new things. Your skiing should be reasonably fluid and autonomous i.e. you can already adapt your turn radius and speed to the terrain and snow conditions off-piste. This course will focus on the technical and tactical skills to ski steep terrain, jump turns and line choice as well as refreshing your avalanche skills and mountain safety. The mission is for your skiing to become more dynamic and reactive!
You are an experienced and confident off-piste skier able to handle most snow types and conditions, you can ski steep slopes (30 degrees+) and make short turns in gullies and ski through trees. These skills have been learned over a number of years of skiing off-piste with mountain guides or experienced groups of friends. You are happy to ski tour to access descents and better snow, so you will have previously used ski touring equipment and can do effective and safe uphill kick turns. You aspire to ski the best snow available and are happy to push yourself to reach the best snow and terrain.
Advanced-level tours are for experienced ski tourers who’ve previously completed another hut-to-hut trip or multiple day tours. A large proportion of the terrain may be steep and exposed; thus confidence in your uphill kick turns on 35+ degree slopes is a must, as is your ability to ski slopes of 40 degrees. You will be a strong, fluid off-piste skier able to handle all conditions. You will be confident of using crampons and an ice axe and happy scrambling/climbing on snow and rock on short climbs to summits, and in gullies to gain a col.
You can ski fluidly and autonomously on all terrain. You often ski couloirs and gullies and seek out steep slopes and you can jump turn in narrow couloirs and have experience of abseiling and sideslipping on steep terrain. You can ski fast with fluid ‘freeride’ style turns and can jump off small rocks and ski trees with no fear or problems. You are happy to ski tour and hike to reach the best snow and terrain and you should have some basic knowledge of using crampons and ice axe. Your aims are to push your skills and challenge yourself further.
Expert level ski tours are pure ski mountaineering journeys in the high mountains. You must be confident skiing steep exposed terrain and ski touring for at least 5 hours per day with long ascents. You will be expected to climb on your feet carrying your skis on your pack to summit mountains above 4000m in altitude. You must be completely confident with your crampon placement and use of an ice axe and you will have some basic rope skills and be happy walking along exposed ridges on mixed terrain to gain the summits of peaks.
You are fit enough to ski all day with only short stops for food and drink. You can ski off-piste all day without being too tired at the end of the day; you can ski in this way for multiple days on your holiday. You can also hike or ski tour for around 2 hours per day. You’re used to doing cardiovascular exercise 3 to 4 times a week (bike, run, gym) to maintain your fitness, and you’re able to push yourself if needed for short periods of time at a higher rate than usual.
You can ski all day comfortably off-piste with only short stops for food and drink, you can do this for multiple days on your holiday. If necessary you can ski tour for around 1-2 hrs up hill plus your happy to do a few short hikes to access good snow with your skis on your shoulder or rucksack. Your stamina and endurance fitness is good and you work hard to maintain a good level of fitness. You will be exercising 3-4 times a week and also at the weekend; thus running a half marathon, doing a 50 mile cycle ride, 3-4 hours on a mountain bike or a full day’s hill walk would all prove possible with this stamina level.
You can ski all day comfortably and will be expected to ascend on skis at around 400m/hr and be able to skin for at least 5hrs with up to 1000m to 1300m of ascent per day. Your stamina and endurance fitness is good and you work hard to maintain a good level of fitness. You will be exercising 3-4 times a week and also at the weekend; thus running a half marathon, doing a 50 mile cycle ride, 3-4 hours on a mountain bike or a full day’s hill walk would all prove possible with this stamina level.
IFMGA / UIAGM / IVBV
The IFMGA / UIAGM / IVBV symbol is the logo of the International Federation of Mountain Guides Association.
Nick, Olly and Matt are all fully-qualified UIAGM Mountain Guides and members of the British Mountain Guides Association.
The International Ski Instructors Association is the world body for professional ski instructors.
The ISIA was formed in 1971 and there are currently 39 member nations representing the very best in ski instruction around the world.