Yurt Based Backcountry Ski Touring

Nothing beats a powder filled adventure with good friends in Kyrgyz Tien Shan mountains and the yurt based backcountry ski or splitboard experience in Kyrgyzstan is like none other. Hand crafted kyrgyz yurts have been given a shelter to nomads since time immemorial and now we welcome you to our backcountry ski yurt set cozily in Terskei Ala Too backocounty among the towering peaks. The yurt provides direct access to a great variety of finest backcountry ski and snowboard terrain, wide open alpine slopes and scenic glaciers covered with annual snowfalls of up to 2,200 cm. Ski at day time and enjoy fire and dinner in the evening by staying in our warm, wood burning stove heated yurt.

ski tour

Kyrgyzstan’s territory is covered by mountains. But there are not so many places for skiing. The most popular regions are:

  • Eastern Terskey Ala Too, near Karakol city .
  • Kyrgyz range, near Bishkek city. It is possible to organize ski touring in the area of Ski resorts in winter time and to ski at glaciers in the Valley of Ala Archa River in summer and spring.  
  • Suusamyr Valley and Too Ashuu Pass. 
  • Area of Arabel Suu River.
  • Arslanbob.Ak Tyuz, Chon Kemin.
  • Lenin peak in Summer.

The most interesting region for ski touring is the area of the eastern part of Issyk Kul lake near Karakol city.

slopes of terskey

Issyk Kul lake is located at the altitude 1600m above the sea level. Its length is 180 km, and width is 70 km. The deepest place is 700 meters. The lake is surrounded by 2 mountain ranges.  

Western part of basin is dry, rains are very rare, in winter there’s almost no snow. All air masses carried by the winds to the eastern part, to Karakol.  Here, the high mountains prevent the further advance of clouds, and most of the rain falling is on the northern slopes of Terskey Ala-Too. Climate combined with mountainous terrain provides ideal conditions for the development of winter sports. Infrastructure that is not enough developed opens endless possibilities for off-piste and ski touring.

Issyk Kul basin is located at the altitude of 1600-1700m, and the main range is 4500m. Average length of gorges 25-30km. The most interesting areas for ski touring situated between 2500-3700m. This region is perfect for one day back country tours.

Driving from Karakol takes about 1 hour. We will start skiing at the altitude of 2200 m, usually at the end of a village, where the road ends. To get to the interesting slopes we need about an hour by ski touring in the gorge. Perhaps it is possible to use a snowcat. Total excess from the car to the top of the slope is 1000-1500 m or more, a distance is about 10 km. Time to approach 4-5 hours per day, you can make 1-2 descents.


Winter weather also contributes to a comfortable journey. The proximity of the lake creates soft microclimate without strong winds and extremely low temperatures. Number of sunny days prevails over the bad weather days. Large cyclones are rare and short, and light snowfall also allowed to walk and ride.

Duration of the season is 4 months, from mid-December to mid-March. Snowfalls are not long, not more than 30 cm of snow during the day. By the end of the winter snow is 1.5-2 meters deep. Ofcorse snow conditions depend on the exposition of the slope. The southern slopes are often even without snow.

ski touring

During the winter, the snow is not compacted and firn is not formed. Therefore, in practice, the classical skituring skiis are not relevant here. It is strongly recommended to have skis at least 100 mm at the waist. Also poorly proven snowshoes here.

Downhill terrain is very diverse. You can find flat snowy fields with a small excess for beginners, and steep couloirs between rocks for experienced riders. There are two main ski areas - forest and above the forest zone. You need some skills for skiing between trees. Because there are often lots of stumps and branches in the forest. Good powder snow stays in the forest and snow conditions are stable

Spruces forest grows at the altitude of 2800-3000 meters in Terskei Mountains. Higher just “opened” mountains. From one side you can enjoy the view of Issyk Kul Lake and five thousand meter high peaks from another side. And also huge expanses and a good choice of places to ski. Safe skiing is on the slopes up to 30 °. On the slopes of 40 ° and above there is a high probability of falling into an avalanche, even if more or less stable snow. During the day you make about 1000m above the sea level on the interesting slope. 



pictures by  our guide Nikolai Gutnik 




Place: Kyrgyzstan, Terskey mountains

Amount of people: from 2 persons minimum
Best season: December-March 
Duration: 8 days


1 Day. Arrive Bishkek. Meet agent. Load a vehicle with gear to continue a long day drive to Karakol for aprox 6 hrs. Lunch on the way. In Karakol we meet guides and continue to trailhead with ex army truck. Skin up the yurt. Final preparations/gear check/avalanche safety briefing. Dinner. Overnight in yurt.

2 Day. Full day backcoutnry ski touring in the area. Lunch on the hill. PM 7:30 Dinner in the yurt.

3 Day. Full day backcountry ski touring in the area. Lunch on the hill. PM 7:30 Dinner in the yurt.

4 Day. Full day backcountry ski touring in the area. Lunch on the hill. PM 7:30 Dinner in the yurt.

5 Day. Full day backcountry ski touring in the area. Lunch on the hill. PM 7:30 Dinner in the yurt.

6 Day. Full day backcountry ski touring in the area. Lunch on the hill. PM 7:30 Dinner in the yurt.

7 Day. Ski out after breakfast. Meet vehicle. Drive to Karakol. Switch vehicles and continue to Bishkek. Lunch on the way. Dinner in downtown. Accommodation in hotel.

8 Day. Early breakfast. Transfer to airport for your up coming onward journey. End of services.



Dates 2017: 






Back country yurt camp


30.01 – 06.02.17



Back country yurt camp


06.02 – 13.02.17



Back country yurt camp


13.02 – 20.02.17



Back country yurt camp


20.02 – 27.02.17



Back country yurt camp


27.02 – 05.03.17



Back country yurt camp


05.03 – 12.03.17



Back country yurt camp


12.03 – 19.03.17



Back country yurt camp


19.03 – 26.03.17



Price includes:

◦   Guides

◦   All relevant transportation

◦   Full board meals whilst on tour

◦   Yurt lodging fees - 6 nts, Hotel -1 nt.

◦   Access to all yurt supplies and resources


Extra Services:

◦   Gear haul - 55 USD per person

◦   People haul - 55 USD per person


Price does not include:

◦   Gear and people haul

◦   Excess baggage costs

◦   Air fare to Kyrgyzstan

◦   Single accommodations

◦   Personal travel insurance

◦   Tips for guides/porters/drivers

◦   Emergency evacuation charges

◦   Certain meal whilst not on trek or tour

◦   All personal expenses, equipment, clothing

◦   Visa and passport cost if applied


Additional services:

◦   Folklore shows

◦   Traditional craft work by experts in their fields

◦   Demonstrations of national horse games and bird hunting shows


Guests are required to have:

◦   Sense of Adventure

◦   Reasonable fitness

◦   Personal travellers' first aid kit

◦   Medical and Accident insurance

◦   All proper ski/splitboard gear