Kyrgyzstan is not Kazakhstan. When I got a
call in early December from filmmaker Anthony Bonello asking me if I would like to go on a ski trip to Kyrgyzstan I sheepishly asked if I could call him back because I had no idea where this Stan was located in the world. Now, after 17 days in Kyrgyzstan I can proudly say that this place is like no other location I’ve visited. The social landscape is comprised of people who look Mongolian, Chinese, Turkish and Russian all sharply dressed in fur and leather and adorned with gold teeth. The language is a mix of Kyrgyz and Russian, which creates a problem when ordering food and you usually default to charades and a bowl of borscht appears minutes later. Unlike other ski trips I’ve valued our time in the cities as much as in the mountains mostly due to the fact that Kyrgyzstan only gained independence 10 years ago from the soviets the people are still trying to reconfigure national identity. There is no sign of “Americanization” with popular restaurant chains or clothing brands however; there is a presence of “Russianization”. Our time in the Tien Shan Mountains with 40 tribes backcountry was equally as educational as we dealt with a continental snow pack (much like the Rocky Mountains in Canada). With rocks underneath and powder sprinkled on top you had to be light on your feet and ensure you planned your escape zones on absolutely all terrain on any degree of slope. The challenge of the snowpack was meet by North Face athletes Izzy Lynch, Mike Hopkins and legendary guide Ptor Spricenieks. Ryan Kopal, the director of 40 tribes backcountry has aligned himself with amazing local Krygyz people to make his vision of a yurt based ski touring operation come to life. From our driver Schumacher to the yurt boys Kaste and Onnibeck, he has created sustainable eco tourism in the region. This was the best trip of my skiing life yet! THANKS to everyone: Lizzy, Michelle, Techy, Tony, Roddy, Rylar, Zeus and The North Face for making so. For more pictures please visit www.leah-evans.com Have a peak an photographer and stand up dude Nicholas Teichrobs pictures from the trip: http://www.nicolasteichrob.com/blog/?p=217
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