hello WS community,
I am currently spending my last days in India before crossing to Pakistan. I would like to head for the north on the KKH and onward to Kashgar and the Stans. Knowing myself, I will probably take my time in the northern valleys of Pakistan and will be arriving quite late in Kyrgistan and Taijikistan, which means sub-zero temperatures in the Pamirs. My options would be to attempt the Pamirs in winter (supposing I prepare myself with good equipment for freezing temperatures) or to wait until next spring somewhere in central asia, maybe working. And where? Any nice place to spend the winter months? I would like to hear from anyone who has done the Pamirs in winter and has survived (and which months), the challenges faced, what I should expect in terms of cold and essential equipment and gear you had. I would also appreciate any recommendation of people who have spent/worked some time in any town or city of central asia...Bishek, Almaty, Osh?
Looking forward to reading your comments
I don't really know the answer to your question about cycling the Pamirs in Winter. I rode it last year in mid-Summer so it was fine. But in doing my research for the ride, I did read about cyclists who attempted the crossing too late in the season having to get lifts out. So I imagine there comes a time each year when the road is impassable, quite apart from the discomfit of camping out in those extremes. You're doing the right thing, though, and asking questions.
think so you`ve to be mad if you cycle Pamir Highway in winter. Temperatures dropping at - 30 C plus massive windchill. At the passes you`ve to expect snow.
Alicja and Andrzej made it in October.
We crossed the Pamirs in June 2009. We were told it was the coldest summer in 25 years. It snowed on us a number of times.
See photos here:
These are taken just east of Ak Baital, the 4655 m pass.
No experience with cycling the Pamir in winter. But some other experiences with winter in the Andes and Himalaya. It is possible to have the equipment to keep yourself warm. It will be expensive, but the stuff exists. You will need a -40C sleeping bag, a very stable and strong tent that can carry a snow load. The best clothing, etc. If you manage to find that kind of equipment in the part of the world where you are now, the main problem might become the snow on the road. On the high passes there might be a meter or more of snow. Only a bicycle with fat tyres might be partly useful to cycle in those conditions. But there will be hours of pushing your bike. You will have to clean the ice of your drive chain very often. Many kinds of oil become very thick in extreme cold conditions including car fuel and chain lube. It will be hard to cook or melt snow. You need a plan to keep your food and drinks from freezing. Daylight will be short, which gives you much less hours to cover distance than in summer. It can be done, people have cycled colder parts of the world in winter. The main questions are, do you want to invest all the money for the equipment and are you ready to suffer a lot and put your life in serious risk?
As for working in Central Asia, I have no idea. Maybe contact some of the warmshowers hosts in the area. There are some expats there.
Thanks for your comment Peter on how to approach such extreme weather. You are right...assuming that it is doable, I need to decide whether I want to invest money in some expensive equipment and/or prepared to endure all the discomfort from the extreme temperatures...