Freeride skiers looking for a fresh, new experience should check out the Tien Shan Mountains of Kyrgyzstan. Don’t know much about Kyrgyzstan? Kyrgyzstan is a small, peaceful Central Asian country located west of China and south of Kazakhstan that is over 90% mountains! It’s the perfect destination for skiers looking for a country that’s almost all potential ski areas. The Tien Shan Mountains that run through Kyrgyzstan have been labeled one of the top ten most beautiful mountain ranges in the world, so not only are they great for skiing, but just looking at them will take your breath away! For travelers looking for freeride ski destinations in Kyrgyzstan, here are three areas that provide some excellent terrain and snow for freeriding within the country.
Coming from the capital city of Bishkek, the Suusamyr Valley and Mountains can be reached by crossing a high mountain pass that will transport you from crowded, overlapping mountainsides into a world of vast majestic mountain expanses. The Suusamyr Valley, that stretches over 155 kilometers, is considered one of the most beautiful destinations in Kyrgyzstan and is contained on all sides by protective mountains with summits that can measure over 4,500 meters. Freeride ski in the Suusamyr Mountains during the winter and enjoy skiing on top of 1.5-2 meters of snow. However, nighttime temperatures can dip as low as -35 C, so be prepared for the cold during a freeride tour in Suusamyr!
A freeride ski tour in Arslanbob comes with several potential perks. First of all, the snow in these mountains is fantastic and the best areas for freeriding include several peaks over 4,000 meters tall. Not only is the mountain scenery spectacular, but those interested in seeing a few other sights in the area can check out the Arslanbob walnut forests, the largest naturally growing walnut forests in the world, and two waterfalls near the forests that might even be frozen in place during your free ride tour!
The best time to ski in Arslanbob is between January and March. Free ride tours with a guide are especially recommended in this area. The Arslanbob Mountains contain avalanche terrain and local guides will know the areas that are safe to freeride ski in. If you’re a beginner and are concerned that tackling the more challenging areas isn’t for you, don’t worry. There are plenty of areas around the forests and valley that are ideal freeride ski settings for beginning freeride skiers.
Karakol is by far one of the most popular ski destinations in Kyrgyzstan. Located near Lake Issyk Kul, the world’s second largest alpine lake, the Karakol Ski Base is one of the best in Central Asia. Freeride ski enthusiasts will find excellent slopes around the base to try with snow that is 1.5-2.5 meters deep from November until April. Also of note is that the Karakol Ski Base recently built a terrain park that was completed in 2010 complete with jib lines for those that are looking for some variation during their freeride ski tour in Kyrgyzstan.
MAKING IT HAPPEN: FREERIDE SKI TOURS 2014-2015
Kyrgyzstan has recently gone visa-free for citizens of 44 countries including most of the EU, the USA, and Canada. Travelers from these countries can stay in Kyrgyzstan for 60 days hassle free! So as you’re planning your next freeride vacation, take advantage of what Kyrgyzstan has to offer. The surreal mountains of this Central Asian country combined with easy entrance and the warm-hearted nature of the Kyrgyz people will make it a trip that you’ll never want to end!
Photo by Nikolay