Two Passes
part 2
bikepacking story
Shamshy Pass

SHAMSHY Pass alone, from south to north

Part 1 read here

Throughout my life in the Chu Valley I have wondered what is beyond those mountains. From the highlands of the Karakol Pass to the upper foothills of the Kochkor valley, the Karakol river valley, small in size, but long, stretches of summer pastures, which I found surprisingly picturesque and relatively untouched.
Midnight is a good time to stop and tell yourself "I've done a great job, it's time to have a good rest". Especially since I was preparing myself for a nighttime solo ride this long trek down the valley before midnight would be a pretty good nighttime practic. Without much thought, I moved on. At this point, having made sure that Lael and Rue were not waiting for me down in the valley, my journey "officially" changed from a group trip to a solo one.
The summer pastures of the upper reaches of the Karakol River are used by the residents of the Kochkor valley as a place to rest on hot summer days. On the banks, along the river you can see tent camps, obviously of tourists. As I was descending toward the valley, I met a group of young, friendly locals who were members of the same family and their friends on their way to the fiest in the jailoo. They stopped me, began to ask questions, having fun, took pictures with me, one of the guys gave me the phone number of his father in the village of Dөn-Alysh - the first village on the way, telling me that I could call him for the nightstay.
I was there in the middle of the night.
A man met me in the village, on the main street.
I sat down to dinner with him at 10:05 p.m.
I spent my second night in this hospitable house. In the morning I left at 6:30 and went straight on the road to the next village of Kum-Dөbө, where I had to turn towards the village of Shamshy, where a long climb begins to the pass.
Starting from here I used gpx track for navigation because unlike Kegeta and Karakol Valley, the way to Shamshy from the valley was not obvious.
I bought three eggs, a couple of tomatoes, and a flatbread at the store and asked the lady in the shop to fry eggs for me. And I wanted a cup of tea badly, and sugary one.
The day was hot and sunny. Between the two villages was a gravel road completely covered with "washboard".
The mood was as good as the day itself, but I was a little worried about the unexplored road ahead.
Behind the village of Shamshy, the foothills were still green in July. At first glance, the pastures there seemed to be degrading. Above, there were yurts, at a distance from each other. The route went past one of them. I decided to stop to get a bottle of kymyz (fermented horse milk) from them. After a five-day trip with Renat to Sonkul and Tashrabat, I was finally convinced that kymyz gives me strength on such trips. From here the road went downhill to a small river and the first ford. From here it was a long hike-a-bike all the way to the pass and even beyond, on the opposite side.
In the distance I saw a lone horse-rider on a slope heading toward the pass.
The rest of the day and half of the next day I didn't meet any more people.
The climb to the Shamshy Pass was a beaten track that was impossible to ride a bike due to steepness of the slopes, large amount of stones and prolonged, steep ascent.
It was evening. A couple more small fords and then, all the time, a rocky trail in the middle of a patch of grass.
Seven hundred meters to the pass. Not much strength, a lot of doubts. What is the slope and the descent on the other side? I see a flat area, an oasis of alpine meadow, sandwiched by rocky slopes, a perfect place for a tent. I decided to camp. I took the tent for the trip without the inner part to save weight and space on the bike, as well as to test such a set in the field. Gas with a stove, but no kettle, just a little metal mug. I warmed some tea and ate some food. The night passed quietly. There was no elements and no wind, which is what I was most worried about.
I began the final 700-meter ascent of the pass around 7:00 a.m. The weather was clear. The sky was cloudless. But it was hard to walk, the trail was strewn with rock chips.
After climbing the ridge I did not expect to see the incredible beauty that opens up to the north side of Shamshy Pass.
Perhaps the north side of Kegeti Pass looks just as stunning if climbed from the south.
On the north side, the Shamshy Pass was more difficult for me to descend, due to its steeper slope and, it seems to me, greater stretch of the upper, loose part. Since I'm not very good at downhill mountain biking I had to walk down from the pass.
All the way down the gorge, up to the first yurt in the forest zone, I rode through steep slopes, as well as numerous small river crossings and streams, some of which were quite full-flowing and so fast that I had to carry the bike on my back. It was easier to control the stability on my legs. And the water level in the deepest place reached my upper thigh.
I had bought a liter of kymyz in the first yurt down in the canyon, and I finished the rest on the way to Tokmok. It was a hot day, and the trail was long.
I got through it. Now all my thoughts were concentrated on the Silk Road Mountain Race, for the sake of participation in which I had done this loop Bishkek - Kegety - Shamshy - Bishkek, and I could recommend it to others, especially to those who were going to participate in SRMR. If you do this route, you'll get through the whole race.

The Last Nomad Republic

  • Малик Алымкулов
    founder and editor
bikepacking kyrgyzstan 2023
Made on