The plan to do a Vol Bivouac in Central Asia originated from the mindblowing adventure that Stephan Bock had flying through the Pamir and parts of the Tien Shan in the summer of 2014. There wasn’t a doubt in my mind that this is the pinnacle of our sport, at least for me. And I had to do something similar.
As soon as the season 2015 came to an end in Europe, so the season of my personal playtime came to an end as well. After winning the TransBalkan in Bulgaria I went to check out the racing paradise of Slovenia with its magnificent landscape that is nothing but stunning. Apart from flying fast, this place offers a lot more for the outdoor person. And, oh my god, the people are friendly. And, oh my god, the beer is cheap.
After getting my fix for flying straight along a perfect ridge, that must have been chiseled out of the crust of the earth by a higher being just for paragliders, with good friends pushing speed bar like there is no tomorrow, it was again time to venture on in my beloved ‘Boris The Van’.
Next stop was once more Chamonix, the capitol of suicide, where mountain lovers flock to desperately try to fall down the many sheer cliffs. Sometimes with wings, sometimes without. The season was far from over in this paradise and I got the special treat over and over, with bombastic mouth-gaping views of perfect granite awesomeness.
But also this last glimpse of freedom had to end and after a year of doing nothing but flying and climbing it was time to take care of filling the honey pot. No better place to do that than Zurich, where karma is low and bank accounts fat. Also my hometown, so within days I was set up with jobs that would allow me to dig deep into the working world where there shan’t be sunlight. But it’s easy if you know what it is for. As soon as I had set up my working schedule I started doing concrete plans for next season.
I already knew the start of my Vol Biv journey from looking at maps over a year ago. The Zerafshan, a perfect east to west valley that stretches from the Uzbekistan flats for 250 kilometers into Tajikistan until it dead ends in a massive glacier.
What do you look for when you plan vol biv trips? For me, the most important was straight stretches of ranges, preferably south facing, which allows fast and efficient flying. I like hiking, but I like flying more.
From the Zerafshan valley it is just a short hop on a half decent day over to the main valley of Tajikistan, the Rasht valley. This would be a great skyway to get into Kyrgyzstan, but the border crossing here is usually only open to Tajik and Kyrgyz people, so that is why here comes the exciting part. The Pamir. Roof Of The World. Home to wolves, snow leopards, human meat craving yetis and a couple of summertime nomads.
From the entrance to this mountain wonderland to the next point of civilisation, the border to Kyrgyzstan north of Karakul Lake, its another 250 kilometers, in between only some military outposts, shepherds and before mentioned critters.
This is the crux of my proposed route, the remoteness and a pass of 5000+ meters that has to be negotiated to reach the high plateau where the large saline Karakul Lake lies.
After making it into Kyrgyzstan, navigation will be not as straight forward anymore for a while and the chinese border looms close-by, but at least there will be little towns to get food.
After this difficult section, the ranges are more obvious and several east to west ranges will have to be connected to reach the big lake Yssik kul, a landmark that can’t be missed. I will attempt to circumnavigate this body of water to connect with the border range to the north to head east again and finally reach my goal, Bishkek, capitol of Kyrgyzstan.