A 4-week ski mountaineering adventure to climb Muztagh Ata (7,546m / 24,757ft) - one of the most accessible 7000m peaks.
This is a rare opportunity to join Nick Parks (IFMGA Mountain Guide) and a small group of ski mountaineers on an expedition to one of the world's great 'ski' peaks.
The ascent is a reasonably straightforward climb on snow and ice – really a high altitude walking route and the elevation is never more than 40 degrees.
We'll be climbing via the lesser known 'Tashi' route which has been recommended as the normal route has become badly polluted due to its popularity. It is no more technical than the normal way and eminently more interesting than joining the crowds.
Muztagh Ata is located in China’s Xianjiang province in the far western section of the Pamir Mountain Range close to the borders of China, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan.
The mountain dominates the surroundings – its glaciated summit looms up to 2 miles over the Subashi valley. It is located close to the old ‘silk road’ and despite the barren, remote landscape it is a stunning area.
Muztagh Ata is a technically straightforward mountain, but one which requires stamina and determination to cope with long days.Anyone wishing to join the expedition must have:
The price includes:
The price does not include:
When choosing clothing for ski touring you want to think light, warm and versatile. During the trip weather conditions will change and you’re likely to go from warm afternoons where you’ll be carrying most of your gear in your rucksack, to icy-cold mornings when you’re wearing everything to keep warm! Getting hold of the best and lightest kit available is always worth it and most of the major brands will be able to supply a suitable kit.
This season, we’ve partnered with Ortovox to provide us with the very best safety kit and clothing. Our guides will all be decked out in the latest Ortovox jackets and trousers and will keep warm, dry and comfortable thanks to their technical wool base- and mid-layers. Our guides couldn’t recommend their kit more highly.
For all touring trips it is essential you ski with an all-mountain/freeride type skis, ski touring boots and ski touring bindings. If you have your own skis but they do not have ski touring bindings then you will need to rent skis. The same applies if you have downhill ski boots, you will need to rent ski touring boots.
This winter our lead guides are using Elan skis. Praised by magazine testers and professional skiers alike for its unique blend of lightweight performance, the Ripstick 96 is proven to be the ultimate freeride ski in all snow conditions. The Ripstick 106 is the ultimate freeride ski for any terrain. From boundary line to the base lodge, peak to the parking lot, and trailhead to tailgate this ski excels in all conditions. The new Ripstick Tour 94 is designed on a wider platform, enabling the skier to float better, ski faster, and turn easier in backcountry conditions.
It is built to blend high performance at a low weight, for the perfect mix of freeride downhill performance and efficient ascending capability. With Ripstick Tour 94, the confidence to conquer long ascents and charge challenging descents is the name of the game.
There are many ‘all-mountain/freeride’ skis to choose from and we also recommend skis from Salomon, Dynastar, Movement, Black Crows, Trab Skis, Scott and Volkl. Look for a ski that is the right size for your height, typically the tip of the ski should be somewhere around your nose height. As for the width of the ski or “side cut” a mid-fat ski – 90-110mm under the foot is a good place to start; this offers plenty of flotation off-piste while remaining suitable for day tours and they should also handle reasonably well on piste and mixed terrain.
Elan Skis: www.elanskis.com
Dynastar Skis: www.dynastar.com
Movement Skis: www.movementskis.com
Black Crows Skis: www.blackcrows-skis.com/
Trab Skis: www.skitrab.com/en-us/
Scott Skis: http://www.scott-sports.com
Volkl Skis: http://www.voelkl.com
There are plenty of other great skis to choose from so if you’re planning on buying skis for ski touring or general skiing and have any questions do not hesitate to call us, or Lockwoods, to discuss the options available.
If you are planning on buying skis for ski touring and general skiing and have any questions do not hesitate to call us to discuss the options available to you.
It is essential that you have ski touring boots for these trips as walking uphill is much more comfortable in these types of boots with a walk mode and great flex; a dedicated touring boot or a hybrid hike & ride boot is best.
Our guides are using ROXA boots. They recommend R3 ski boots, the lightest high-performance alpine ski boot in its class. The 110 TI is geared for big mountain chargers who may use “Tech” and/or Alpine bindings and often hike or skin to find their lines. The RX Tours is targeted toward skiers who prefer to blaze their own trail and leave the lift lines behind.
Scarpa has led the way in touring boots for many years but they have been joined by other manufacturers like Dynafit, Salomon, Scott, Black Diamond, Dalbello and K2; all producing their own versions of ski touring boot.ROXAR3 and RX Tour ski boots provide a range of models suitable for all sorts of terrain and snow conditions. It is a family-owned company located in Italy, focused on advanced materials, and ultralight compounds and one of the first companies to use
• Scarpa’s Freedom boots are their Hybrid offerings, with great ski performance, a walk mode and Vibram sole. Their Maestrale (men’s) and Gea (women’s) boots are also highly recommended.
• The Scott Celeste and Cosmo boots have stood the test of time and are good all-around choices.
• Salomon’s Quest Max series offer boots with a walk mode in various flex’s with good downhill performance.
• Dynafit offer the Mercury or Vulcan boots plus a range of lightweight options like the TLT6.
The best of the rest are:
Fischer - Transalp
Black Diamond – Quadrant and Factor
K2 – Pinnacle boot
Dalbello – Lupo or Sherpa
Langue – XT series offer a ski boot with a walk mode in various flex options
These days many manufacturers offer ‘thermo-fit¹ liners as standard equipment. You may also want to consider a custom liner as these are heated and molded to your foot and boot for a perfect fit. They can make all the difference especially if you have trouble finding really comfortable ‘off-the-shelf’ boots. Zipfit liners are a great option for anyone seeking total customisation in fit and comfort. They will replace the original liner.
Essential kit – to provide additional comfort and ski control. If you want to get footbeds made or a pair of new boots fitted then we suggest you visit somewhere like Profeet for a professional fitting. Don’t forget if you have footbeds in your downhill boots but need to rent touring boots then you can bring the footbeds with you and put them in the hire boots.
For all ski touring trips ski touring bindings are essential. Fritschi and Marker both make excellent ski-touring bindings and you have a few different options to choose from. Many more people are seeing the advantage of the “pin” binding system now offered by a number of manufacturers as these are light and offer ever-improving security despite their minimalist looks!
It’s essential you have ski touring bindings on your skis. Although Pin bindings have been around since the Dynafit Low Tech bindings over 30 years ago since their patent expired the technology has advanced substantially. Salomon, with their Shift Binding, are at the forefront; they’re ‘multi norm compatible’ so fit a selection of boots and are lighter than most freeride bindings. Our lead guides are using the Shift binding this winter, so if you’d like to know more about them give Lockwoods a ring.
We recommend telescopic poles. They must have wide powder baskets (4-5 inches/100-120mm diameter) otherwise you’ll be up to your armpits on the ascents. Go for an alloy rather than carbon poles which are lighter but have a nasty habit of snapping near the basket due to ski edge nicks.
For most ski tours especially multi-day hut-to-hut tours you will need a 35 - 40 litre rucksack. You might get away with a big 30 liter pack if you are an experienced ski tourer and know what to pack. Most people will find a 35-40 liter pack is a good size for touring.
Key features of a good ski touring pack:
Ortovox Haute Route 40 rucksack will be a good choice for ski touring trips.
Avalanche airbag rucksacks can be used for touring but they are heavy, adding somewhere between 5-8kg just for an empty pack plus canister. So unless you are sure you can carry it and fit all you need in, we do not recommend you use one.
Over a long multiday tour, every gram of weight is important as you have to carry and move it yourself. Carrying a heavy pack will hinder and tire all but the most experienced and fit ski tourer.
Food and Water
We suggest you bring with you or buy in resort snack food that you can take out on the hill with you each day. Things like cereal bars, dried fruit and nuts, chocolate, sugary sweets or your favorite hill snacks. When you’re staying overnight in huts its best to take supplies for the days you are away. Huts do sell food but it’s expensive and sometimes stocks run low.
If you have any food allergies or dietary requirements especially if you are a Coeliac (Gluten free) or have a dairy allergy we strongly recommend you bring some food with you that you can supplement your dinners with. The huts are fairly good at providing for vegetarians but less so for other dietary needs.
You have to buy bottled water in the huts as usually any running water is non-potable. Bottled water is expensive in French and Swiss huts; you can be paying upto 12-16CHF per 1.5L bottle of water. So please ensure you budget for this cost.
The “Safety Trilogy” - required on all our ski tours and off-piste courses.
We recommend Simple and intuitive ORTOVOX AVALANCHE RESCUE KIT 3+
Remember it is not enough just to carry this equipment; you have to know how to use it.
How about joining one of our specialist avalanche courses – check out www.mountaintracks.co.uk/activity/avalanche-training
The arrival airport is Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan.
There are 3 routes available:
1. Via Moscow tihe Aeroflot.
2. Via Istanbul with Turkish Airlines.
3. Via Astana in Kazakhstan with Air Astana.
Flight examples are based around a July trip e.g.
Gatwick out 7th and back 31st
07JUL LGWIST 1700 2250
08JUL ISTFRU 0040 0845
31JUL FRUIST 0645 0940
1JUL ISTLGW 1355 1600
If from Heathrow :
07JUL LHRIST 1620 2205
08JUL ISTFRU 0040 0845
31JUL FRUIST 0645 0940
31JUL ISTLHR 1245 1440
Flight prices will be in the region of £400 - £500 return. Furthur details to follow shortly (17/10/17)
You should consult your GP well in advance of travelling or a vaccine specialist for professional advice. You can also visit the website http://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/home.aspx
Typically the following vaccinations are recommended: Polio, Tetanus, Typhoid, Hepatitis 'A'. Malaria is not required.
Water that is not from a sealed bottle should never be drunk without first sterilizing with chlorine tablets or by boiling.
You should ensure you bring your own first aid kit which should include plasters, blister kit (compeed), paracetamol, throat lozengers, insect reellant, anti-itch cream and any other medication you are taking.
The currency in Kyrgyzstan is the Som (KGS), but typically the US Dollar is king! We suggest you bring cash in US$ as spending money, there are ATM's in Bishkek and you can change money locally. Currently 1 KGS = 0.01457 USD
The Chinese Yuan Renminbi (CNY) is the currency of China, currently 1 CNY = 0.151 USD
Local payments to porters and for tips to expedition staff should be done in US Dollars, so please consider this when budgeting for your trip.
British nationals don't need a visa to enter and stay for up to 60 days.
Your passport should be valid for a minimum of 3 months from the date or entry into Kyrgyzstan adn must have at least 1 full blank page if you are applying for a visa.
Yellow fever certificate requirements
Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate but this should not be necessary if you're travelling from the UK and only transiting through an airport enroute.
Our ground agent will be able to supply an Invitation Letter for Chinese Visa application if necessary.
China Visa Requirements - British Nationals need a visa to enter mainland China; you must get a visa prior to arrival. For details of entry requirements to China contact the Chinese Embassy or the China Visa Application Service Centre well before your proposed trip. You maybe asked to provide your previous passports in support of your application. Further details about visiting China can be found here on the Gov.uk website.
Accommodation will be in a combination of hotels (tourist class), local guests houses and camping. There will be base camp support and a mess tent for meals.
Its a fully supported expedition and we will have our own local cook, meals will be hearty, tasty and the cook can cater for some mild dietary requirements but you can't afford to be fussy. A lot of the meals will be stir-freid at base camp.
At basecamp we can expect our local chef to prepare us 3 hearty meals a day.
Breakfasts: porridge, eggs etc
Lunch and evening meals: Typical menu will be soup to start followed by a main dish of meat
with rice and vegetables.
Drinks and snacks: tea, coffee etc available all the time.
On the mountain: we will bring with us mountain meals, cook in the bag variety of which there
are many options
IFMGA / UIAGM / IVBV
The IFMGA / UIAGM / IVBV symbol is the logo of the International Federation of Mountain Guides Association.
Nick, Olly and Matt are all fully-qualified UIAGM Mountain Guides and members of the British Mountain Guides Association.
The International Ski Instructors Association is the world body for professional ski instructors.
The ISIA was formed in 1971 and there are currently 39 member nations representing the very best in ski instruction around the world.