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Backcountry hut skiing in Ketmen ridge (5 days)

January 16, 2020

Ski Tours, Freeride & Backcountry | Challenging and authentic backcountry adventure in the heart of wild and impressive Ketmen ridge with national spirit. The caravan of horses will deliver your stuff to the mountain hut while you’ll be skinning up to the picturesque and peaceful mountains. Exciting ski runs every day in new locations and no other human souls for many kilometers around.

Route: Almaty – Ketpen settlement – Ketmen ridge – Chundzha hot springs – Almaty

Season: December – February

Group size: up to 6 people

Route Complexity: intermediate, 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: mountain hut is located at an altitude 2276 m.a.s.l. Daily elevation gain 400 – 1500 meters.

Length of descents: from 500 up to 4000 meters.

Steepness of the slopes: from 15 up to 35 degrees.


Ketmen ridge (Uzynkara) is located in the north-eastern part of Tien Shan mountain system. It is located on the territory of two states - the Republic of Kazakhstan and the People’s Republic of China and on the territory of two districts of Almaty region: Uygur and Raimbek, east of Trans-Ili Alatau. The total length of the ridge is about 310 km, within the territory of Kazakhstan about 160 km kilometers. The width of the western part of the ridge is about 30 km, the eastern - 20 kilometers. The highest point is Heaven Summit - 3652.8 meters above sea level. It is located directly on the state border with China. Ketmen does not reach the snow line where glaciers form and does not have glaciation and snowfields, but has a permafrost zone. The peaks are flat and wide, the northern slopes are steep, dissected by deep gorges. The lower part of the ridge is covered with steppe vegetation; fir forests grow on the slopes above. The southern slopes are more gentle and with few exceptions treeless.



Day 1. Almaty – Ketpen – mountain hut

Early meeting with your guide at 5 a.m. and departure to Ketpen village by comfortable 4 WD vehicle. The way will take about 4 hours, because you need to overcome 336 km. Arrival to the small farm near the village for packing horses, which carry all heavy stuff to the mountain hut. Breakfast in the local family’s house. Transfer to the point where ski-touring part of the route will be started. (12 km) Ski-touring to the mountain hut through the pass with stunning panorama to the closest ridges. Distance – 7 km, elevation gain 630 meters, loss – 450 meters. After getting the hut lunch and rest. Dinner and overnight in the hut.     

Meals included: B, L, D

Day 2-4. Mountain hut

Wake up at 7 a.m. Breakfast. Preparing for the route. At 9 a.m. start skinning up to the nearest spots with lines of different complexity according to the group’s experience. Daily elevation gain: ~1000-1500 meters. Length of descents: ~400-2000 meters. Slopes steepness: ~15-35 degrees. After skiing day coming back to the hut in the afternoon, late lunch. Rest, free time. Evening bath-house. Dinner. Overnight in the hut. 

Meals included: B, L, D 

Day 5. Mountain hut – Ketpen

Wake up at 7 a.m. Breakfast. Packing personal stuff and loading the horses, which carry bags, back to the village. Coming back to the start point of ski-touring part of the route through the same pass. Distance – 7 km, elevation gain 450 meters, loss – 630 meters. Transfer to Ketpen village by 4 WD vehicle. After coming back to the village short rest and transfer to the resort with mineral hot-springs. (40 km) Relaxing in the open-air and indoor swimming pools with hot mineral water for 2 hours. Late lunch in café at the resort. Transfer back to Almaty. (296 km) Arrival in Almaty approx. at 22.00 

Meals included: B, L

*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
- Goggles with a spare lens for bright sunlight and cloudy weather

Personal clothing and accessories
- 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) 
- Mid-warmth sleeping bag
- Gloves
- Hat, cap, neck gaiters
- Sunscreen
- Sunglasses
- Swimsuit, towel and flip-flops for visiting hot-springs
- Personal AID kit  
- Thermos for the hot tea, water tank. 
- Head torch 
- Personal hygiene stuff 

- Ski/snowboard boots (for skiers with system of switching to walking mode) 
- Proper freeride skis/snowboard with touring bindings
- Snowshoes (for snowboarders without splitboard) 
- Climbing skins 
- Poles 
- Ski/splitboard crampons

- Snacks (bars, muesli, special mount nutrition)

Individual Tour Price: 
             1065 USD Per Person, for the group of 2 people

               805 USD Per Person, for the group of 3 people
               715 USD Per Person, for the group of 4 people
               633 USD Per Person, for the group of 5 people
               550 USD Per Person, for the group of 6 people


1. Accommodation in the mountain hut for 4 nights.
2. All transfers according to the program by comfortable vehicle. 
3. Cargo horses rental.
4. English-speaking skiing guide services.  
5. Bottled water (1 liter) on Day 1 and 2.
6. Ecological and environmental fees.
7. Meals according to the program.
8. Bath-house on Day 3.
9. Entrance to the hot-springs resort.


1. Accommodation in Almaty before or after the tour.
2. Rental of ski and avalanche equipment.
3. Meals not indicated in the program and/or not included into the tour price.
4. Visa support and registration on the territory of Kazakhstan, if required.
5. Personal expenses and other expenses not indicated in the program.
6. Insurance policy. 

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