As we approach the final planning stages of our trip, we would like to share a little more about who we are, where we are going, what we are doing, some challenges we will face, and why we chose Kyrgyzstan.
Three skiers from different backgrounds, taking time out from everyday life to pursue a journey to the At- Bashi Region of Kyrgyzstan. Gabby Degagne, Marian Krogh, and Nicole Mesman met through their common passion for the outdoors skiing and collectively spend as much time as they can in the mountains. They lead different lives, follow different career paths and can often be found on different continents. They want to combine their love for skiing with their passion for travel and new cultures to investigate how global warming is affecting remote communities around the world.
Located in the famous Tien Shen Mountain range, the At Bashi region is known as one of the most remote sections of the Silk Road in Kyrgyzstan. Historically the Kyrgyz traveled into the high mountain pastures, also known as Jailoos, to set up Yurt Camps in the summer months. Throughout history, both locals and travelers alike depended on this land to sustain them. Today, locals continue to rely on this land to survive.
Gabby, Marian, and Nicole would like to learn more about the challenges that are facing mountain communities in the mountainous regions of Kyrgyzstan as a result of changing climates, reduced snowpack, and glacial retreat. The area around At-Bashi is seldom explored in the winter, only a handful of people have skied there in the past. They will use their skis to take them on a journey through historically significant areas of the Tien Shen Mountains in order to examine and document decreasing snow-pack levels interviewing locals along the way. Their aim is to complete a carbon-neutral ski mountaineering traverse of the Tien Shen Mountains, aiming to summit three peaks (first ascents in summer or winter) above 4500m to gather data. Travel to this area in the winter is nearly impossible for locals.
Upon their return they hope to share their findings as far and wide as possible. Incredible adventures are achievable for everyone. This project encourages individuals around the globe to incorporate adventure combined with environmental responsibility into their lives. It is the hope that this expedition can be inspirational in that it promotes ethical and responsible travel and encourages positive change in lifestyles.
Gabby, Marian and Nicole are not professional athletes. They are passionate about skiing, exploring, and creating awareness. They would like to promote the fact that anybody can get out there and adventure if they are determined. They are sharing their story to inspire girls around the globe to explore and ski at any level. The girls are currently training hard towards their common goal and have been working together for more than a year to make this adventure a reality. It has taken time and dedication to get where they are now; countless hours of physical training, skill development, and behind the scenes work.
Challenges we expect:
- The unknown. There are so many elements of this trip that are unknown despite over a year of planning. This is the most exciting part for me, we have no idea what we are about to experience.
-Route finding. We have relied hugely on local knowledge, google earth, and information from a climbing team who visited the area before in the spring months. We have been in touch with the President of the Kyrgyzstan Mountaineering Association and will be using large scale maps.
- The financial element of this trip has been a challenge, the costs have added up quickly. Luckily we received a few grants which are helping immensely.
- Travelling to an area which has only been skied a few times before means we have had to be creative in our approach and likely means there will be challenges facing us when we arrive which we don’t even know about yet!
- Travelling in Kyrgyzstan as 3 females with a lot of ski gear will be interesting to say the least!
- The biggest challenge so far has been finding the time to research and plan and train for this trip along with work and other commitments. The three of us are currently living on 3 different continents, but we are all committed and keen to do the best we can.