The first issue of Ascent Backcountry Snow Journal for the 2019-2020 ski season has hit mountain shops across the American West. Happy to contribute photography and words for a piece about backcountry skiing in Kyrgyzstan while guiding for 40 Tribes last winter.
The Tien Shan are mystical range of peaks found in Central Asia, whose name translates to Mountains of Heaven. Home to UNESCO World Heritage sites, with Kazakhstan and China on the periphery, a major part of Tien Shan runs through the land-locked country of Kyrgyzstan. With rooted history in the Silk Road, and land that is the furthest distance away from any ocean in the world, Kyrgyzstan has a diverse, authentic culture that has long been shaped prior to gaining its independence in 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union. From stories shared by adventurous mountain travelers over the years, apparently the skiing was pretty good too.
Last January I found myself in Kyrgyzstan’s capital, Bishkek. I had come on assignment to work with 40 Tribes, a boutique guiding outfit that specializes in taking skiers and riders to some of the most far off places in the world to experience wild snow. At the airport I met the founder of the company, Ryan Koupal, along with his local friend Kas, and Canadian guide Xavier Bouchard. It was solid trip across many time zones to get to this far off location, but as we loaded Kas’s car and set off for the multi hour drive from the capital of the country to the small, snowy town of Karakol, I immediately felt a sense of the pull that must have inspired Ryan into spending so much time here over the past decade.
Read the rest here or pick up a print copy at your local mountain shop.