Route: Almaty – Shymbulak – Ak-Bulak – Trans-Ili Alatau – Charyn canyon
Season: December - March
Route Complexity: intermediate and advanced level of complexity. For fit and well-trained skiers and snowboarders with confident level of riding on wild terrain. *It is required to have set of avalanche equipment.
Height difference: the maximum height is 2800-3700 m.a.s. Daily elevation gain during backcountry is approx. 1000-1200 meters. Length of descents is from 3 up to 6 kilometers. Steepness of the slopes is from 15 up to 45 degrees.
DAY BY DAY ITINERARY
Day 1. Almaty – Shymbulak ski resort – Almaty
Meeting the guide and hotel pickup at 08:30. Transfer to Medeo Gorge (1690 meters above sea level) by comfortable tourist vehicle. Getting to Shymbulak ski resort area by cable car. Having ridden about 20-25 minutes above magnificent fur-trees up to the altitude of 2260 meters above sea level, you will get to the 1st level of ski resort, occupied by fancy restaurants, ski & snowboarding school and mountain hotel.
Skiing from the lifts and trying local freeride and backcountry spots – “Shkolnik”, “Dry Log”, “Cone”.
Lunch will be arranged in a stylish café at the highest point of ski resort on Talgar pass. There you can relax sitting on the soft sofa, take sunbath and listen to the lounge music. If you tired from the sun you can sit inside and enjoy thematic movie, communicate with local skiers and drink special herb tea or sweet punch.
After fantastic day spent at Shymbulak, coming back to Medeo station by cable car. Transfer to Almaty. Approximate arrival time - 19:00.
Meals included: B, L
Day 2. Almaty – Ak Bulak ski resort - Almaty
Departure from Almaty at 08:00. Transfer to Ak-Bulak ski resort, which is located near by Talgar town. (45 km). Arrival on the territory of ski resort at approx. 09:30. Preparation of the equipment and instructions from the guide.
At 10:00 ascent by gondola cable car (length is 2351 m), which delivers to the slope with altitude 2006 m a.s.l. Then ascent by chairlift to the highest point of resort with "black slopes" only at an altitude 2664 meters. Steepness angle of freeride slopes in this zone is from 22 to 55 degrees. Parts of descent pass both in open spaces and in the forest, among the Tien-Shan firs with lots of drops. A huge mass of white fluffy snow and amazing panorama of surrounding high mountains will leave the brightest impression.
Skiing on the "black slopes" of the resort with a guide until 13:30. The guide knows the resort "like his five fingers" and will show you the most "tasty", interesting places, hidden from the majority of riders. Riding will be fun, intense and full of adventures - you will not even notice how fast time is running.
Picnic-lunch will be arranged on benches at the observation ground until 14:30. You will have a rest, sunbathe and admire views of the big mountains located very near, and perhaps, even see a huge and beautiful prey bird - bearded vulture.
After lunch you will continue riding off-piste until 16:00, and then will ski down to the parking zone. Packing stuff and departure to Almaty. Arrival to Almaty at about 19:00.
Meals included: B, L
Day 3-5. Almaty – Trans-Ili-Alatau mountains – Almaty
This day we will have an adventurous backcountry in the mountains near Almaty city. Departure from your hotel at 7.30 a.m. Transfer to one of the gorges of Trans-Ili Alatau. We will take in consideration different locations and depending on snow and weather conditions decide where to go best.
Kimasar gorge and Panorama ridge. Maximum altitude 3260 meters. Elevation gain: 1300 meters, descend length ~ 6 km, duration: 6-7 hours.
Kok Zhailyau valley and Three Brothers peak. Maximum altitude 2850 meters. Elevation gain: 1250 meters, descend length ~ 6 km, duration: 5-6 hours. Slope gradient: 15 – 35 degrees.
Kotyrbulak gorge and Bukreev peak. Maximum altitude 3010 meters. Slope gradient: 15 – 40 degrees. Elevation gain: 1200 meters, descend length ~ 5 km, duration: 5-6 hours.
Tersbutak ridge and Young Geologist peak. Maximum altitude 3200 meters. Elevation gain: 1200 meters, distance of descend ~ 10 km, duration: 6-7 hours. Slope gradient: 15 – 40 degrees.
Mynzhylky ridge and Memory peak. Maximum altitude 3700 meters. Elevation gain: 1150 meters, descend length ~ 5 km, duration: 5-6 hours. Slope gradient: 15 – 40 degrees.
All spots described above are reached in combination of hiking and ski-touring, because of steep parts of ascent line. Picnic-lunch during the day. Coming back to the car and transfer to the 4* hotel in Almaty.
*On day 5 after backcountry before arrival to Almaty city you will visit open-air SPA complex - the Tau Spa center.
Staying on the territory of spa center for 3 hours and enjoying different types of steam rooms and sauna, swimming pools with icy and hot water, relaxing on sun loungers and admiring the view of Trans-Ili Alatau mountains.
TAU SPA or “TAU Dastarkhan” (what means “mountains and welcome served table”) is a unique high-mountain entertainment complex. Located at the foothills of Trans-Ili Alatau mountains, in the picturesque Alma-arasan gorge. Nine different steam rooms will help you to relieve tension in tires muscles. For you pleasure: Alpine, Himalayan, Turkish hammam, Japanese, Oriental Sufa, Scythians, Finnish, Scandinavian bath-houses, swimming pools with pure, salty, hot, cold water, whirl pools, sun loungers and restaurants. There is special bathing procedure in Scandinavian steam room, which is provided every hour.
Transfer to Almaty city. Dinner in the local restaurant. Transfer to the hotel. Overnight in the hotel.
Meals included: B, L, D
Day 6. Almaty – Charyn canyon – Almaty
Unforgettable journey to one of the unique natural monuments of Kazakhstan - Charyn Canyon, located 190 km far away from Almaty. It will leave a lasting impression with its grand splendor and beauty...
Meeting with guide in a lobby of your hotel at 9 a.m. Starting the journey to Charyn Canyon by a comfortable car. It will take about 3,5 hours to reach the canyon. Meanwhile, you will know interesting facts about the history and nature of the region, about Kazakh people, their life and traditions.
Upon arrival to Charyn Canyon, you will admire the grand panorama and go down stairs to the bottom of the canyon, then walk around 2 km through the maze of the Castles Valley with its walls of bizarre shapes overhanging you. The bottom of the Canyon has slight descend to the end of the walk, where you will get to the fresh oasis on the bank of icy cold Charyn river, where also located eco-park with several yurts (traditional dwellings) and a small open air café, working in the summer time. After some rest, walking back the same path to the stairs, then car transfer to one of the observation points for another breathtaking panoramic view.
After 3 hours spent in the canyon you will have your back ride to Almaty. For a full immersion in the national flavor, you will also have a lunch at the local cafe on the way to Almaty. The average time of arrival to Almaty 7:00 pm. Dinner in traditional restaurant with national music performance. Coming back to the hotel at around 9.30 p.m.
Meals included: B, L, D
Day 7. Almaty city
Meeting your guide in the hotel’s lobby at 09:00 a.m. for Almaty sites city-tour (5 hours).
After meeting the guide at your hotel, your will start the tour with a ride to the oldest of Almaty parks - Park of 28 Panfilov Guardsmen, where one of the most beautiful wooden building in the world - Zenkov Cathedral is located. In the park you will also visit the Memorial of Glory and Eternal Flame, listen to the stories of the guide and admire the beauty of the Museum of Musical Instruments. A leisurely walk under the crowns of old trees will take about 40 minutes.
Next point of interest is a popular place for townspeople - the Green Bazaar, where it is impossible to refrain from shopping. It is the great chance to experience an atmosphere of the real eastern market, its colors, smells and crowds. There you can obtain famous oriental sweets, dried fruits, buy local products and souvenirs, but don't forget to bargain. In the market they accept cash in tenge (local currency), so it would be good to have some with you or there is an exchange point just nearby to the market area.
Light lunch will be arranged on the second floor of bazar in the small coffee shop where you could enjoy meals and watch how the trading is going.
After the bazaar, the tour will continue at the Kok-Tobe hill where the tallest TV tower in the world is located (if to count from the sea level) and where you will get by the picturesque winding mountain road on the park eco-cars. In Kok-Tobe Park you can stroll along the winding paths of the park, admire the magnificent panorama of the city from the special observation deck, throw a coin in the "apple" fountain and visit the shop of national souvenirs. The tour ends with the short ride from the top of the hill to the center of the city by the famous Almaty cableway* and the dropping you off at your hotel. Overnight in the hotel.
* On Tuesdays, in the tour departing at 10:00, cableway is not available. Park eco-buses are used instead.
Meals included: B, L
End of the program.
*Depending on weather, temperature and snow conditions, the guide can make adjustments to the skiing part of the program.
Please, notice, that it’s required to have insurance for extreme sports for participating in this program!
Required equipment and clothing:
- Avalanche equipment (air bag system and avalanche safety kit: shovel, probe, transceiver)
- Freeride backpack with ski/snowboard fixation
- Helmet and goggles with a spare lens for bright sunlight and cloudy weather
- Personal AID kit
Clothing and accessories
- Ski/snowboard boots (for skiers with system of switching to walking mode)
- Comfortable functional clothing for riding and ski-touring (base layer - thermal underwear, gore-tex jacket and pants, additional layers of clothing for insulation, downy sweater or vest)
- Extra set of warm clothes, extra pair of shoes (sneakers or lightweight trekking shoes)
- Hat, cap, neck gaiters.
- Sunscreen, sunglasses
- Swimsuit, towel and flip-flops for visiting SPA
- Proper skis/snowboard with touring bindings
- Snowshoes (for snowboarders without splitboard)
- Ski crampons
- Thermos for the hot tea, water tank.
- Head torch
- Personal hygiene stuff
- Snacks (bars, muesli, special mount nutrition)