“Soviet maps are not to be relied upon. Regard venturing into these ‘mapped’ areas with the same caution and attentiveness that you would apply if you were stepping into the complete and utter unknown.”
We had come to Kyrgyzstan as part of a climbing expedition hoping to explore an isolated valley in a remote section of the Tian Shan Mountains. We arrived only a few weeks after the violent ethnic clashes of June 2010 wracked the southern city of Osh, and the urgent international headlines had made us all a bit apprehensive of what we would find when we finally landed in this off-the-beaten-track Central Asia destination. Fortunately, everything was largely calm in the capital Bishkek and the four expedition members (Mike, Matt, Chris, Dan) and myself soon made it out of the city, heading into the big unknown on a battered old beast of a truck. Our destination: the country’s mountainous and south-eastern border with China.
After days of much bone-jarring travelling, we finally arrived at a small military base, the last vestige of civilisation before the Mountains of Heaven reared up to guard the way into the land of the Orient. From here, we proceeded to lug our equipment and nearly three weeks’ worth of food for five people over a 4000m pass (luckily with the assistance of mules) and into the beautiful and pristine valley of the Djangart. Over the course of many weeks out in this wilderness our climbing team managed to summit three new peaks – all around 5,000m high – whilst I documented the expedition and amazing natural environment of this remote and virtually unvisited valley.
Featured below is a short portfolio-story of this expedition: the day-to-day goings on at camp, the wildlife, the amazing scenery, every aspect of life in this remote outpost at the end of the world.