With Shymbulak all but tracked out, we had followed our trusty guide to Almaty’s other main ski resort, Akbulak. It was a good move. We arrived to vast amounts of new snow and no lift lines for the top half of the mountain. While Rage’s ridge-top traverse did remove a decent amount of ski base, he once again served up the goods. Below us lay a steep gully, 40 meters wide, which snaked its way down through the trees. It was absolutely stacked with powder and yet held no ski tracks. To call that run ‘fun’ would simply dishonor the word fun; it was simply unreal. Every time I stopped to take in the moment I would look around to see and witness Mark and Hamish either airborne off a pillow or drowning in cold Kazakh powder. Russian, Kazakh or English; it didn’t matter what language you spoke that day. You could read it on everyone’s face; powder days are the best days. Steep, cheap and deep!
Awesome and uncrowded backcountry skiing possibilities very close to Almaty ranging from early season powder tree runs to early summer height altitude Alpine routes. Greetings, Rik
Visiting the Tian Shan is about more than just skiing somewhere you may find wild. Vitaliy’s deep knowledge of the mountains and their history, combined with his experience, stretches beyond finding good powder. My time in Almaty taught me that I loved Georgian food. My time spent in cars with Kazakhs taught me how wonderful they treat one another. My time on their skin track taught me that, once on snow, our skiing experience is similar, even thousands of miles from my home in the United States. It’s one of the only mountain ranges in the world that I can’t wait to visit again. Thank you, Vitaliy, for sharing your mountain range and breadth of knowledge with me and my friend, Robin. I can’t wait to return for more ski mountaineering, and maybe even some more powder skiing.