“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.”

August 2010: 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.

IMG_3386

IMG_3386

Mountains of Heaven

Mountains of Heaven

Setting Off

Setting Off

Team in a Truck

Team in a Truck

Abandoned Military-Base Camp

Abandoned Military-Base Camp

View from Abandoned Hut

View from Abandoned Hut

Roadside Chat

Roadside Chat

Cleaned-Off Pasta Sauces

Cleaned-Off Pasta Sauces

Mounted Rangers

Mounted Rangers

End of the Road

End of the Road

Kaichi Valley

Kaichi Valley

Over the Pass

Over the Pass

Spent (Self-Portrait)

Spent (Self-Portrait)

Base Camp Fun

Base Camp Fun

Fetching Water

Fetching Water

The Djangart Valley

The Djangart Valley

Base Camp

Base Camp

Preparation

Preparation

Into the Wild

Into the Wild

Exploring the Valley

Exploring the Valley

A Rainy Day Inside

A Rainy Day Inside

Butterflies

Butterflies

Carpets of Edelweiss

Carpets of Edelweiss

Tien Shan Weasel

Tien Shan Weasel

Peak of Illumination

Peak of Illumination

Dinner

Dinner

Late Night Writings

Late Night Writings

View Back up the Pass

View Back up the Pass

More Dinner (Homemade Cutlery)

More Dinner (Homemade Cutlery)

Bouldering

Bouldering

Chess

Chess

Rocket Watching

Rocket Watching

Midnight Base Camp

Midnight Base Camp

The Tian Shan

The Tian Shan

The Day Lasts More Than a Hundred Years

The Day Lasts More Than a Hundred Years

Jamie and Dan Prepare to Leave

Jamie and Dan Prepare to Leave

Back, Past the Dirty Glacier

Back, Past the Dirty Glacier

Pick-Up

Pick-Up

Sunset

Sunset

Morning on the Steppe

Morning on the Steppe

Russian Solider and a Can of Condensed Milk

Russian Solider and a Can of Condensed Milk

Two Soldiers, Two Expedition Members and the Driver

Two Soldiers, Two Expedition Members and the Driver

Downed Bridge

Downed Bridge

Signs back Home

Signs back Home

Nomad

Nomad

Dan (Civilisation)

Dan (Civilisation)

Jamie. Nearly Home

Jamie. Nearly Home

The read the full article, as published in Climber Magazine, please click here.

Exploring the Mountains of Heaven

  • Climbing
  • Reporting
  • USSR