Finally, I got the opportunity to return to Kyrgyzstan and Arslanbob. And this time I brought friends!
Having enjoyed a few days in Bishkek (with one day skiing in Kashka Suu) and three incredible days catskiing in Suusamyr it was time to see the real Kyrgyzstan. The 10 hour night-drive from Suusamyr to Arslanbob in a Ford Transit with 14 people and HUGE amounts of luggage was cozy and intimate, but effective! We arrived early in the morning/night and Hayat quickly arranged three homestays for all 12 of us. After getting a few hours of sleep (such a small amount of time in Kyrgyzstan meant that we had to keep a tight schedule) and a hardy breakfast the whole group met up for some lunch and sightseeing in “downtown” Arslanbob. Hayat presented the inspirational CBT-work being realized in Kyrgyzstan and his branch of Community Based Tourism is in the forefront of this work (See earlier segments for more on CBT).
Hayat then arranged for 12 horses to come and take us up to the agricultural fields for some afternoon skiing. This is a great way of including horse-owners in winter tourism, but also a real treat for the skiers! We really enjoyed it! Having skied in the field Hayat was eager to show us a different and completely new place for skiing just outside of the town. Having mounted our steeds again we rode further up the valley and skinned up the last part in a steep walnut forest. It had snowed just two days before we arrived and expectations were high. The really steep forest-riding that ensued was beyond our high hopes! Hayat, you have found an exceptional new skiing arena in Arslanbob, perfect for a half-day trip.
The next morning we presented the mostly youth ski-equipment and clothes we had brought with us and straight away ascended the road up to the agricultural fields where a lot of kids and some of the guides joined us for a few hours of ski-practice and jumping. The next generation of skiers in Arslanbob have all the reason and passion to become good ski-guides in the coming years.
After breakfast was served we, Hayat and us, ascended the first easy accessed north-facing slope and did some avalanche assessments and concluded that the snow was super-stable in the north/north-east slopes we were planning. We only managed to do two whole runs that day before lunch, the second especially being spectacularly nice! Lunch was served by Latchin and the other two guides (who had their first winter-camping experience) up at their hut with beautiful views overlooking our tracks. The summit planned for after lunch was dropped so that some could build a jump over a hut, and some explore a gorge with very good potential for rock climbing.