Thunderstorms, a lost tent and our final pass – Tien Shan #5

The second thunderstorm of the afternoon is hot on our tail and I am keeping an eye out for somewhere to stop and pitch the tent before it is too late. My gaze drops and I am horrified to NOT see the tent strapped to my handlebars as it has been for the last 2 months – holy crap I have dropped the tent, I yell to Alan.

An unimpressed silence as we both contemplate riding back through the storm looking for a dropped tent. In our favour is the fact that Alan has been behind me for the last hour and so it must have come off on a short section of track straight after lunch when we took separate tracks.

When the fat drops of water start falling out of the sky we take refuge in a small wooded gully and squat huddled together with our Tyvek groundsheet wrapped over and around us. Still no smile from Alan.

After 30 minutes the rain eases and we carry on back. Fortunately it is nice riding and the wind has spun around 180 degrees so is on our backs for the ride down the valley. Thank goodness I spy the tent lying on the ground where it slipped out of the harness (I had loosened the straps at lunchtime but not retightened them).

With more rain on the way we decide to camp close by where there is water and firewood and Alan starts to smile again.

Our favourite weather website had predicted showery weather over these couple of days so we were biding time a bit in order to have good weather for our final pass crossing.

Next day we had nice track riding (back) up the wide valley reminiscent of NZ, and mid-afternoon we got the tent up just before a violent deluge that had us sitting inside holding the tent poles for fear of taking flight or a flattening.

The promised bad weather for crossing Karakul pass the next day didn’t come to much and then we enjoyed perfect weather for Kegety pass the day after.

Similar to the first pass of the TS Traverse Kegety Pass was not motorable and for us involved a couple of km of pushing. The surface was rocky and at times steep as the route zigzagged up thru a large, rocky scree basin that gravity was working hard on to dismantle.

We were very happy to reach the summit at just under 3800m, also with the knowledge that Bishkek city lay 3000m below.

We wanted a final night camped in the mountains so descended to a nice campsite in the forest and enjoyed hanging out beside the fire mentally preparing ourselves for final re-entry…

Again acknowledgent to Joe Cruz and his mates for documenting this fantastic route :

Thanks for coming along on our journey, I enjoy documenting our adventures especially with the knowledge that people are enjoying following us.


We had a few spare days before we flew home so we went to Almaty, in Kazakhstan, for a night (220km away). Almaty is a very modern city (compared to Bishkek) and sitting in a ritzy cafe in Dostyk Plaza, we feel a long way from places we have been. But, surprisingly we then jumped on a city bus that took us to the bottom of a ski resort cablecar 20 minutes away and were whisked up to 3200m and easy access to the edge of a moraine covered glacier sorrounded by 4000m peaks – the winter back country skiing potential looks great!