Our grading system explained
- Expedition Grade
Stretching from Siberia to the deserts of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, and from China to the Caspian Sea, Kazakhstan is a vast country. In fact, it is the ninth largest in the world - bigger than the whole of western Europe. Encompassing two time zones and five different climatic zones it is not surprising that its geography and terrain is immensely varied comprising flatlands, steppes, canyons, hills, deltas, high mountains and deserts.
The Tien Shan mountain group, also known as the Celestial or Heavenly Mountains, extend for 1,600 miles primarily along Kazakhstan’s south eastern border with Kyrgyzstan, stretching from Tashkent to Urumchi. However, it is only the central portion southeast of Lake Issyk-Kul, which contains the very high mountains. They were first visited by a scientific expedition led by Russian geographer, Peter Semyonov, in 1856. His expedition discovered a cluster of some thirty snow-covered summits well over 6,000m/19,685ft, including the mighty Khan Tengri, ‘Lord of the Sky, Prince of the Spirits’. At 7,010m/ 22,999ft Khan Tengri is not the highest peak in the Tien Shan but it is certainly the most impressive and often considered to be one of the most beautiful peaks in the world. Shaped like a child’s drawing of a mountain, its summit and sharp ridges form an almost perfect snow-covered pyramid.
Although, Khan Tengri attracts mountaineering expeditions, having been first summited in 1931, the region remains incredibly remote and undisturbed - perfect for those seeking a genuine off-the-beaten-track trekking adventure. And for that added touch of excitement, a helicopter flight through the spectacular mountain scenery, to reach the North Inylchek Glacier (one of the Base Camps for ascents of Khan Tengri) is an experience of a lifetime.
Travelling at altitude
Our trekking holidays are designed to allow gradual height gain, spread over a number of days. There is no way of predicting who will suffer from altitude but, for the vast majority of people, a slow ascent to height will produce minimal effects. On a few high altitude treks we carry a Gamow Bag as a precautionary measure.
The dossier pack that we send to you when you book your holiday includes comprehensive advice on safe travel at altitude. If you would like to find out more about the effects of altitude and the best preventative measures, then please visit the website of the research charity Medex (medex.org.uk) and download their excellent booklet called ‘Travel at High Altitude’. For treks involving travel above 4,000m/13,120ft, we’d strongly recommend that you read this booklet before you travel. You can also call our office and speak to an experienced member of our team.View our holidays here