Trailer for the feature length video of their climb, adventure and general shenanigans.
Before Ryan took off to Kyrgyzstan, I sat down and asked him a few questions that any normal person might ask.
So buddy, where the heck are you going?
We’re headed to the Djangart Region of North Eastern Kyrgyzstan. Part of the Himalaya, it translates as “the forbidden mountain range”. It’s hard to believe in this day and age, but we dug up a mountain that has yet to be climbed. It’s been attempted several times before (see the list of previous attempts on pt 5318 in the packet I sent) but never with success. It’s the highest in the region (5318 m).
What are you going to be up to?
Myself and my team of 5 other goofy alpine climbers hope to find a way to the top of 5318. We’ll be doing some acclimating climbing in Ala-Archa, a popular alpine climbing destination just outside of Bishkek (the capital of Kyrgyzstan). After a few days of getting up to speed on the environment, our systems and our fitness, we’ll travel for several days via 4 wheel drive vehicle to an air base in the foothills of the himalaya. From there it’s a 1 hour helicopter ride to our glacier basecamp, where we’ll be completely independent for 2 weeks as we attempt our ascent of 5318 and surrounding peaks.
We expect the climbing to be moderate, but committing, demanding snow, rock and ice climbing skills. Because previous attempts have been turned down due to weather, we’re taking a fast and light “alpine” approach to climbing 5318. This means we’re cutting weight wherever possible, relying on our constant movement for warmth and speed (to get up and down before the weather turns). Fast and light approaches have been the modern trend in alpinism for their reduced impact on the mountain and the climbing speed with which they permit. Speed in the mountains equates to less exposure to adverse conditions and the ability to adapt to diverse conditions and obstacles more readily than a well equipped but heavy and slow moving group. The committing nature of alpine style ascents means that climbers need to be intimately aware of the limits and the margins of safety. Knowing when to retreat is a major part of fast and light attempts.
Why so far off the beat and path?
why not? If you’re willing to do the trip planning and put in the work, climbing in a remote and unexplored location like Kyrgyzstan can cost just as much as climbing a popular peak in Alaska. The outdoors is a place to learn about yourself, to adapt to your environment and to operate independently. An unclimbed peak in a remote region seems like a great place to learn more about ourselves and to put all the pieces together that we’ve been working towards in our climbing careers.
Who are you going with?
My 4 college housemates + 1, Papa “J-Lo”. I’d say we’re an eclectic mix of engineers, med students, goobers and dirtbags. Generally one could describe us by a governing motto such as “why not” or “let’s rage”. All accomplished climbers, well traveled and reliable. We’ll see how their Settlers of Catan skills have come along in the time we’ve been apart…