South of Barskoon, Kyrgizstan - Part Three Week 127 September 2nd - 5th 2013
Thanks again for all the support. And thanks for kind words from Babette et Jean-Jaques who we remember taking the photo on our front page at Merzouga.

A rest day.

Well, almost.

We climbed up the side of the valley.

The track got a bit vague, and we didn't know what we were looking for.

Later our Kyrgiz neighbour from "tourist stop" told us it led to a lake.

Next day we decided to head south. Again, to have a look along "the yellow road" we missed previously..

Over Suck Pass.

We followed the mine road up to Barskoon Pass again. It crosses the Terseky-Ala Too which forms the southern edge of Issyk Kol.

The road to Suck Pass leads through that valley to the left.

Through the east-west Yetim Bel Range.

So up to the pass.
This is getting fairly high.

4,036m (13,240 ft).

In China / Tibet we'll reach around 5,000m.

The red engine warning light came on again. I'm reasonably convinced its a combination of fuel and altitude.

Just a tad disconcerting to not really know.

The gps failed to find any Roadside Assist! It doesn't even know about the track.

From the top of the pass the Chinese border is visible.

Its along the top of that ridge.

The tall one on the horizon.


The $2 headlamp has failed. Maybe a damaged cable somewhere.

I have another $2 lamp which I'll fit just before vehicle inspection in Kashgar.

Just in case there are also a couple of H4 and H1 lamps on their way from Aus - courtesy of Dave (again).

Doesn't everyone check their headlights at 4,000m?

Deep blue skies and crisp mountain air.

There is ice on the roadside near the top of the pass.

So down we go.
And down.
Our sort of creek crossing.

Clear water.

A glimpse up the valley we were in a couple of days ago.

We see glimpses of track on both sides of the river.

We've passed a farm and suspect the track entry is near it.


The bridge is missing a bit, or two.

There's a ford nearby.

Last vehicle through was large truck.

We can't see how deep it is. And its not straight across. There's an island just downstream of us making the first bit of crossing about 75m. The flow is fast enough to make us think twice about walking.

We know we'll have to come back this way. The road ahead is blocked somewhere ahead due to the plague (though may be as far as 100km away).

We are on our own, and there's no really pressing reason for us to cross the river.

Though of course it would be nice to catch a glimpse of the highest of the Tien Shan Mountains to our east.

We retreated a couple of km to camp next to a convenient creek a couple of hundred meters off the track. At 3,360m.

And watched a couple of large trucks ford the river.

They took the course across the island we thought would be used.

Difficult to tell. We probably could have crossed OK. But it looks to be near the deepest we've previously crossed.

Probably explains why we haven't seen any cars. Nothing but these two and a horse rider all day.

The truck drivers appeared to treat it with a little respect. Only one at a time and first across waited..

So we accepted the importance of local knowledge and played with the camera pointed at the Chinese border. Our sense of distance is all out of whack. We think about  50km from east to west, of the 400 km of the Kakshal Too (range) which extends in Kyrgizstan from the high point to our east at Khan Tengri (6995m) and Jengish (Pobeda) (7430m) to the Torugart Pass (3752m) to our west. Khan Tengri is a target for climbers. We are looking at the shorter (70km)  Borkokdoy Range, about 30km away, in front, parallel and almost not separate. The high points are between 4,800 and 5,700m. Its a bit like Tien Shan includes Kakshal Too which includes Borkokdoy Range. (image is 600kb if you want to look at it full size).
Not too long ago the Russians and the Chinese looked at each other across this border.

For some reason today we are a bit blazé about the rain clouds. They built up slowly during the day.

We're probably more comfortable as we are close to the more substantial (mostly built up gravel) track.

But having said that, discretion became the better part of valor and we moved to solid ground to get some sleep.

After a restless night we headed back towards Issyk Kol.

Its fine recognising the luck involved in meeting people, or finding special places like our glacier.

Its not fine relying on luck when there's bad weather combined with a 4,000m pass in one direction and an uninviting river crossing with 100km of unknown roads, possibly closed due to Plague, in the other.

But we'll take the front end loader heading up to the pass as good luck.

We were concerned the snow would be deeper.

The top of the pass is in sight.

The snow seems to have fallen on the north faces of the mountains.

Truck driver was waiting at the top for the loader.

A river gravel operation on the far side of the pass.

Without any common language we think he indicated the way down was ok.

It looked ok further down, looking back.
And even better looking forward.

The snow seemed to have only reached about 3,700m.

Nothing to worry about really - hindsight is wonderful.

This is a serious 6wd truck hauling hay, going the other way.
Just so it doesn't seem too melodramatic ....

This was the third herder we'd seen who'd gathered up the herd.

We've seen this before but just occasionally between the grazing herds.

Perhaps we are neurotic, but it seemed associated with the weather.

The mountains in the background were clear a couple of days ago.

About 80km to the shore of Issyk Kol.

We've descended 2,400m from 4,000m to 1,600m.

Sunshine and sealed road.

Looking forward to some sleep.

Narym, Kyrgizstan Week 128 September 6th - 10th 2013

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