The trek up the South Inylchek Glacier to the base camps below Khan Tengri and Pobeda, the world’s most northerly 7000m peaks, is certainly on a par with the more famous trek to K2 base camp in Pakistan. Kyrgyzstan is not renowned for is stunning mountain scenery – except for those who have been there and experienced it!
From the capital Bishkek a two-day road journey via Karakol takes us to the Inylchek valley and glacier, the third longest in the world. We spend six days walking up the glacier, at times high above it amongst the lateral moraines and at other times on the rugged moraine-covered glacier itself. We pass the ice-bound Merzbacher Lake which every so often releases its waters down the valley in a spectacular rush, to eventually arrive at the base camps. Nestling on the glacier in one of the most spectacular cirques in the world with a vista of snowy pyramidal peaks all around, thus is a stunning place to end the trek. Before we fly back down the glacier by helicopter, we have a day to trek even closer to the mountains, following the now smooth white ice up below the very flanks of Khan Tengri. We return to Bishkek via Karakol and a night on the shores of Issy Kul Lake.
The Khan Tengri base camp trek is a must for those who like remote boundless landscapes.
Days 1 and 2 Depart UK, arriving Bishkek the following day. You will be collected from the airport and transferred to your hotel. In the afternoon there will be a city sightseeing tour including the Philharmonic Society, Ala-Too square, Victory square, and handicraft shops, Osh Bazaar, Fine Arts Museum and the State History Museum.
Day 3 A full day’s transfer from Bishkek to Karakol. En route we will visit the Burana Tower (X-XI century AD). Transfer 400 km, 7 hours.
Day 4 Early morning departure. Another drive today (6 hours on rough roads) to At-Djailoo, the start point of our trek (2500m). In the afternoon we will start to explore the area with a circular walk from camp.
Day 5 The path goes along the left bank of Inylchek River. The North slopes of the gorge up to the glacier are covered with spruce forest. The place where Inylchek River emerges from under the glacier often changes and the precise route to the campground, set either at the end of the glacier, or on its lateral moraines, can vary. 5 hours walking.
Day 6 Today our route follows along the lateral moraine of the glacier on the way to Merzbacher Glade. On the way it is necessary to cross the confluence of lateral part of Putevodny Glacier and the Inylchek Glacier. Right up to Merzbacher Glade the glacier is covered with surface moraine and sections of bare ice are rare. Close to the glade there are more bare ice sections. The camp is set up on the lateral moraines. 6 to 7 hours walking.
Day 7 We continue trekking along the lateral moraines of the Inylchek Glacier to Merzbacher Glade. 5 to 6 hours walking.
Day 8 A rest day, or a long day trip out to go and visit the Mertzbacher lake with is situated across on the north side of the glacier. At the point the South Inylchek glacier is about 3 km wide. While crossing the glacier look out for crystals in the rocks such as rauhtopaz (or smoky quartz), amethyst, black and pink tourmaline (elbaite), amazon-stone (green feldspar), fluorite, topaz, and others. Merzbacher Lake is located in the mouth of North Inylchek canyon where South Inylchek Glacier blocks the gorge of North Inylchek River, damming the water and thus forming this amazing seasonal lake. In August, when the lake is full to bursting, the water rushes through the cracks and subglacial channels of North Inylchek Glacier into the valley. 4 to 6 hours walking.
Day 9 From Merzbacher Glade we continue along the same lateral moraine of the glacier to the first right tributary – Shokalski Glacier. At the confluence of the glaciers it is necessary to get to one of the medial moraines of the South Inylchek Glacier, and to follow this up to Diky (‘wild’) Glacier. The so called ‘red moraine’ (composed of red jasper) provides a natural highway in the centre of the glacier. 7 to 8 hours walking.
Day 10 From Komsomolsky Glacier the South Inylchek Glacier becomes wider and quieter – crevasses and ruptures are getting smaller. Today we get our first views of the highest peaks of the Tien-Shan Mountains. 7 hours walking.
Day 11 A final half day’s trekking up the glacier takes us to the Khan Tengri Base camp area, where the glacier is now 3.5 kilometres wide. 4 to 5 hours walking.
Day 12 Today you are free to explore the area around the base camp and to get closer to the spectacular peaks looming above you Great views of the panorama of the highest mountains in Tien-Shan Mountains are visible if you walk 2-3 hours up to Semenov Glacier. 4 to 5 hours walking. Reserve day for helicopter flight.
Day 13 A short but exciting helicopter flight takes us tо of the mountains to Maida-Adyr Camp or Karkara. Transfer to Karakol (180 km, 5 hours).
Day 14 Transfer to the northern shore of Issyk-Kul Lake On the way we will visit the Ethnographical Museum the Petroglyphs Museum on open air in Cholpon-Ata. Transfer (140 km, 2 hours). Reserve day for helicopter flight.
Day 15 A final drive back to Bishkek for our last night in Kyrgystan. Transfer to Bishkek (260 km, 4 hours).
Day 16 An early transfer to the airport for the flight back to the UK, arriving the same day.
It is vitally important that you have adequate travel insurance for your trip with Adventure Peaks. We recognise the complexity and variety of choice in the insurance market and know that many of you either have your own preferred insurer or have annual multi trip cover in place already. If this is the case, please ensure that your insurer is aware of your Adventure Peaks itinerary and can agree to cover the activities being undertaken.
Adventure Peaks do not provide any advice on travel insurance, although it is a requirement of our booking conditions that you have travel insurance which covers the activities which you are likely to be undertaking on your holiday. Cover must include emergency medical, helicopter evacuation, repatriation and rescue expenses.
It is strongly recommended that suitable cancellation insurance is purchased at the time of booking as all deposits are non-refundable and non-transferable.
Suggested insurance companies include:
Expeditions or Treks