Sandy, Sam, Calum, Magnus, Struan and Neil share with us their highlights from their successful expedition of Djenghi-Djer mountain range.
• We travelled on horseback, set up four base camps and explored the mountains on foot for three weeks. We managed to climb five peaks above 4,000m (highest 4,436m) and four of them we believe to be first ascents.
• There were several exciting events involving horses – I got bucked off and landed on my head on a scree slope; Calum got kicked and was immobilised in the tent for a week; Neil's horse rolled on top of him and then bolted, with Neil's foot still in one of the stirrups! But by the end of the trip we had a much better idea of how to ride horses.
• At our fourth camp, we built a dam in a little river and went fishing with mosquito nets – one of the most successful days fishing we’ve ever had, catching something like 150 small fish and deep frying them all afternoon.
• At around 2am most nights, we’d peek outside the tents to check the weather. If it was cloudy or snowy we would sigh with relief and go back to sleep. If the sky was clear and the air crisp, we would don helmets, torches, Sealskinz gloves and pack the ice axes, and set off up whatever route we had scouted out on previous days, hoping to reach the top of something.
• One afternoon we met a pack of wolves whilst exploring the higher corrie above one of our camps. They were all scrawny and beige, not like the wolves you see howling on tee-shirts. They howled but skirted away from us downhill.
• We passed some yurts in our last few days on horseback, with fires in the hearths and families living in them. These pork-pie shaped thick hide tents are the traditional Kyrgyz nomadic dwelling. They were located incredibly remotely and they had very few amenities or additional features apart from the fenced area to keep sheep or goats. We stopped at one yurt on the return and drank some fermented horse milk (‘kumis’).
• Driving to and from our starting point was an adventure in itself. Our taxi drivers were crazy on the road – overtaking trucks towered high with hay, swerving, U-turning to detour from police (who take bribes), etc.
• The Sealskinz hats, gloves and socks we brought along were amazing. The socks were warm and water-resistant protection when we were perched on our horses wading through roaring glacial rivers. The hats were perfect for keeping the chill of the wind off our ears while we prepared some noodles or smash at camp. We’d recommend them to everyone venturing to remote, high places.