GO explore, the freeskiing and travel web series by Aurélien Ducroz, double world freeride champion.
Gone are the podiums and welcome to all kinds of travel. Aurelien is an adventurer by nature, discovering spots that are not necessarily associated with skiing. Corsica, Kyrgyzstan, Romania, Iran or Turkey are on the agenda. Whether on skis or on his boat, Aurélien likes to discover new slopes but also very different cultures.
Often accompanied by his sidekick Eric Gachet, always the index finger on the trigger of his camera, the two companions are not at their first try! They know each other and know how to work together, but most importantly, they have fun together and it shows.
This year our "friend" the covid decides to join the party and reduces the possibilities of travel. In February, Kyrgyzstan opens its borders to the lucky ones who have a negative PCR test. Neither one nor two, our Tribe leaves, with a light heart and slightly irritated nostrils.
Accompanied by Romain Grosjean, our Tribe brings the famous Movement apple on the Kirghiz lands. After a long flight of 10 hours and 12 hours of driving, they meet Stéphane Aubrée, a cheerful guy from Savoie who knows the region like the back of his hand as he has been coming there for 20 years!
On the agenda: skiing in a wild landscape, night in a yurt and laughter between friends.
The mount of choice for such an adventure? Aurélien, the freeride champion, leaves with the GO 98 and GO 109, a formidable and relatively light freetouring tool. This is important because in Kyrgyzstan there are few lifts and the approaches are long. As for Romain Grosjean, the young backcountry skier who likes to get into the air is taking a pair of FLYTWO 105. The perfect compromise for a skier who wants to express his creativity on various terrains.
Our riders testify to the vastness of this country and the warmth of its inhabitants. A huge country full of potential as 70% of its surface is at more than 2000m of altitude.
The fine team will sleep at Slava's place, a Kyrgyz who knows them through the networks. As a fan and hardened freerider, he will join our Tribe for the whole week. Physically it's not too much of a problem as Slava is a porter at Lenin peak, a 7130m summit that he has already skied more than 10 times. No need to say that Kyrgyz people are solid!
On the spot the conditions are not the easiest to judge. Snow layers without much cohesion and breaks on important depths are observed by our team. Eric, a professional guide, tells us that over there, you have to ski with a good safety margin, there is no rescue and you are left to your own devices in front of the mountain. Total commitment, something to know when the nearest "reliable" care center is in Dubai, 7 hours by plane. These unfavorable conditions lead our team at the end of the stay to put away the skis and dive into the local culture. They discover the nomads' eagle hunting, the life of the inhabitants and the different culinary specialities of the country. Romain Grosjean emphasized that for such a trip, one should not go on a trip with huge expectations about skiing, but more to live an experience and discover things one does not know. For him the highlight was when a nomad put the eagle that fed his family on his arm.
One thing is sure, our Tribe leaves Kyrgyzstan with a lot of memories and aware of how lucky they are.
A bit of history:
In 1936 Kyrgyzstan was integrated into the USSR, the remains of the Soviet regime are still very present in the country between statue of Stalin and road signs in Russian.
By building ski areas, the Soviets are the pioneers of the alpine exploitation of the country in the 70s. Moreover, the Karakoln area was the training ground for the Soviet team for the Olympic Games. Apart from the ski infrastructure, nothing has been developed, no stores or hotels. An atmosphere a little too cold, which did not allow tourism to develop. Kyrgyzstan remains a forgotten territory of the world economy, but the development of winter tourism is an interesting opportunity for the country to develop its economy by attracting foreign investments.
Currently counting 12 ski resorts, the country is far from exploiting the potential of its 158 mountain ranges which cover 94% of the country.
For experienced skiers, the country represents a huge potential, the most adventurous among them have the opportunity to make many firsts, whether peaks, slopes or corridors, everything remains to be discovered.