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Trip Reports • Siberia-Kyrgyzstan: ONLINE
Trip Archive

Expedition that began as the Himalayan Rally, is now forced to stop on its current achievements. Still, two months of continuous kayaking in the Altai, Tien-Shan and Pamirs-Alai is not that bad.

Online reports from the expedition


Expedition finished...

... at least for the russian part of the team. Personal circumstances forced me to go back home.

Watch further adventures of the blue Magirus on its way to Pakistan on the Shiva Outdoors / Boathouse Nepal website.


Photo from Pamirs-Alai.

Last three weeks three kayakers were exploring three forgotten rivers of the Pamirs-Alai in southern Kyrgyzstan - Gulcha/Kurshab, Kichik-Alai/Akbura and Gaumysh/Khodji-Achkan/Sokh. We'll publish trip report from this expedition soon; in the meanwhile enjoy some pictures from the area. Unfortunately kayaking difficult rivers in just three boats does not allow much flexibility for making whitewater photos - at least not serious whitewater photos...

Gulcha, Kurshab, Kichik-Alai and Akbura

There First canyon of Kurshab, entrance Second canyon of Kurshab. Nikolai Timonin. Second canyon of Kurshab. Nikolai Timonin.
Second canyon of Kurshab. Alexey Shamov. Second canyon of Kurshab. Andrei Lichkanov. Portaging on the Kurshab. Alexey Shamov. Portaging on the Kurshab. Alexey Shamov.
Kichik-Alai Gorge. Noname rapid on the Kichik-Alai. Nikolai Timonin. Noname rapid on the Kichik-Alai. Andrei Lichkanov. Noname rapid on the Kichik-Alai. Alexey Shamov.

Gaumysh and Khodji-Achkan

Sunset at the roadhead near Khaidarkan town. Approaching the Gaumysh Pass. Alexey Shamov. Approaching the Gaumysh Pass. Alexey Shamov. On top of the Gaumysh Pass. 4100m (13450ft). Alexey Shamov. "I wish I died yesterday"
Alai range glaciers seen from the pass. On the Gaumysh Pass. Nikolai Timonin. Walking from the pass down to Gaumysh creek. Morning in the shepherd
First strokes on the Gaumysh. Hot springs on the Gaumysh. Bathing of the Red Hamster. Red Hamster (not shown). End of Gaumysh and beginning of Khodji-Achkan. Alexei Shamov and Nikolai Timonin.
Beatiful but unrunnable. Walking around first canyon of Khodji-Achkan. First canyon of Khodji-Achkan. Noname rapid on the Khodji-Achkan. Andrei Lichkanov and Alexey Shamov. Second canyon of Khodji-Achkan.

Sokh, or to be honest, unrunnable slots of Sokh.

The slots of Sokh. No comments. The slots of Sokh. No comments. Hate it! Andrei Lichkanov. Hate it! Alexey Shamov.

11.09.2005 20:30

Kekemeren - two swims and one paddle lost.
Expedition is moving to Osh.

Slightly cut team - our bavarian friend is silent so we guess he's caught by the KGB - we warmed up ourselves on the sunny Kekemeren. The run took little more time than usual due to regular swims of one of the team's member, who used to sit on the couch too much during the winter.

As one of the paddles has been lost already, we decided not to risk these precious pieces of equipment on the 100cfs/500ftpml stone staircase of Chichkan but look for some bigger rivers instead.

Now we're moving to Osh in southern Kyrgyzstan to explore rarely visited mountain range of Pamirs-Alai.


Expedition going illegal.

Life is like a zebra - white bar, black bar, white bar, black bar, asshole...

Having spent the whole friday in the consulate and being not able to receive his Kazakh visa in time, our german friend flew to Moscow damning everything in four languages. His russian visa is about to expire tomorrow and he has to leave Russia to get the next one and return back to Omsk.

The truck was left behind in Omsk and we're going by train to Bishkek, capital of Kyrgyzstan.

In the meanwhile we plan to kayak Kekemeren, Naryn and possibly Chichkan. We hope the truck will be released soon.


Zero-zero weather in Omsk.

Despite some strange infectious disease that affected next two truck's alternators, we managed to drive to Omsk to find out Kazakhstan consulate closed for nearly whole week due to national holdays.

Three leisure days were spent at a local truck workshop installing yet another alternator. Soon we'll be able to assemble and disassemle this unit as fast as the Kalashnikov rifle.


Altai is over. Tien-Shan is coming.

If the road to Karagem would be driveable, then for no means for our little Maggie. It was indeed vanished and despite local's words nobody took care of it. So we had to carry, drag and pull our boats for the last 5-6 km. Unbelievably, but one russian Gaz-66 4x4 truck had made the road all the way down to the river - it would have to drive straight in the riverbed of a small creek, over huge boulders and massive log strains.

Karagem had quite low flow at this time but the weather and the water both were damn cold. So in order to drop the altitude and get warmer environment we rushed down the river in just one day, almost entirely eddy hopping run. The Argut took a liitle bit more time, namely three days to run all the rapids.

24 of August, at the famous camping spot on the Chuya river all three teams travelling Altai rivers this summer finally have met. The Liquidlogic team, our team and the group of russian kayakers - we were so glad to see each other so the beer in nearby shop ran out almost immediately.

Tomorrow we finally leave hospitable Altai Mountains and having slightly changed out team staff start driving towards Omsk, to sort out Kazakh visas.

Tien-Shan is waiting for us.


Karagem: long way to the put-in.

As you could guess, whitewater on the Chulcha was not quite runnable due to high water after a week of continuous rains. Nevertheless, we managed to paddle the whole section apart from one rapid which was silently and anonymously portaged after two swims in a row and one boat gone with the current. Thankfully the lost boat was recovered on the next day in the middle of a class 5 rapid; although it was quite tricky to make the eddy beging the rock where it was pinned.

Having finished the Chulcha we're now on our way to the put-in for the Karagem and Argut rivers, a long and lonely journey in one of the remotest valleys of the Altai Mountains. The last day was almost completely dedicated to recovery of our lovely Maggie truck, nicely put into the siberian swamp in the middle of nowhere. Luckily we managed to find a tracktor in the nearby settlement (nearby here means it took us only half a day to get there). The funniest part of the story is that it all happened simply on the roadside.

We just have crossed the pass and are trying to drive remaining 15 km down to the Karagem river - the road which once was there and which was later nearly wanished by the Mother Nature in seems to be in shape again. At least the locals say so. We'll be back in about a week.


Bashkaus: Survival Run.

After a nice warm up on the low water Chulyshman we ventured into a completely insane high level Lower Gorge of the Bashkaus. Five days of continuous rain, cold and water rising, mixed with hair raising portages of all major rapids. After the body count at the take-out we surprisingly discovered that everyone was still there. Towering waves and truck-eating holes made it necessary to squeeze most of the rapids along the shoreline. The few rapids which we've kayaked involved long scouts and repeated body counts at the eddies downstream.

Kayaking past the confluence of the Chebdar we finally found blue and clear water again. Our next aim will be the Chulcha to get guaranteed (?) runnable (?) whitewater. The weather at the moment is clear and sunny after some 10 days of rain in a row. The team spirit seems to be connected to (now rising) thermometer.


Lower Gorge of the Bashkaus in high water.

The day of waiting did not really help, water dropped a little bit, but just a little bit. From time to time it rains again and again. We are taking the gamble to start on the river today in hope the water will keep dropping. I'll be extremely surprised if none of us will drown.


Chulyshman: everyone's alive...

...although some members got hammered. This part of the trip was quite nervous due to my satellite phone that suddenly barred any outgoing calls and sms. All Thuraya providers in Moscow have been rocked up but after all it turned out to be a technical problem of the satellite...

Then truck's battery followed the alternator's way of life and death. This happened at the most remote part of the road, to be honest, exactly at the roadhead in the middle of the forest. So we had to deal with another type of transport, a 4HD (4-Hoof-Drive) vehicle to bring dead body of the battery to the nearest farm for charging. As it could be expected, charging did not cure anything and we'll have to bring another car to start ours. After all we managed to continue paddling down the Chulyshman while our truck went back to Aktash to buy new batery.

It was raining last few days so when we moved to the put-in of the Bashkaus river we saw exactly what we should see - thick brown stream flowing through the riverside forest. We had a lot of discussions if the pines are supposed to grow in the water or not. Now we set up a thoughtful camp 20 km below the Ulagan village in hopeless waiting for the miracle - namely for the rain to stop and for the water to drop.


Siberia: Russia+Ireland

Despite the truck's alternator that decided to commit suicide in the middle of Siberia we managed to reach Barnaul airport just in time to see plane with Irish Team S7G being landed. Next month we'll be kayaking all the Altai classics: Chulyshman, Bashkaus, Argut and generally all the rivers we'll come accross.

Absolutely exausted after 100-hours steeplechase we're now heading to Gorno-Altaisk, the administrative center of the area.

26.07.2005 23:50

Start: Moscow-Siberia

It just happened: the most unimaginable kayak trip which we both have been talking about for years is on its way! To cross the whole Eurasia from Germany to India and kayak the most outstandimg mountain countries along the route - everyone who has been told about the plan just labels us mad and the misiion impossible.

But it is as simple as 1-2-3: just grab the wheel and turn the key... And write these lines somewhere beyound Volga River halfway to the Urals Mountains...

Watch the expedition news online.

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