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Photographer's Note

It was the second day of our hike when we first encountered Ala Köl Lake. Because of its remoteness, few tourists make it to this place high up in the Karakol mountains. Located at an altitude of 3400 meters, it requires minimum two nights in a tent for those who wants to see it. Except for a German hiker, we were all alone up there. Me, my Swiss friends and our Kyrgyz guide.

It was two days earlier that I arrived in Karakol and went out to eat. I found a halal soup place with the menu only written in Kyrgyz and Russian, perfect place to avoid ending up with European food. So the staff recommended a national soup with meat and some sort of noodles. And they recommended me not to choose the big portion. They were right, even the small portion was way too much for me! At the soup place I met an unlikely group of tourists who had met in Bishkek just that morning. One of the guys had planned this hike and I tagged along despite the fact that he had booked a guide...

We left next morning up Karakol Valley, passing the ski destination and setting up our camp at the bottom of the steep part. The next day we reached Ala Köl, had a long lunch there before we continued up Ala Köl Pass at 3900 m and down in shelter from the highest summits. On our last day we made it down to the hot springs of Altysh Arashan, with views to the glaciers and the high altitude mountains. From there I decided to run the last 25 km to the village of Ak-Suu, while my Swiss friend and our guide decided to tag along the old Soviet military car.

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Additional Photos by Fredrik Henriksen (Bergenphotos) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 271 W: 53 N: 646] (3310)
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