What’s going on here?
Where are you right now?
Back in the UK.
Where did you go?
What do different update types mean:
- Just that I am at location and everything is ok. (Two thumbs up, absolutely ok, things are going great)
- Slept here
- Lots of wow noises due to surroundings at that point
- Summited something
- Met someone here
- Something of interest happened here
- Repeatedly, over protracted period, with no intertwined OK/Checkin’s -: everything OK, but not ‘awesome’, no assistance required. Probably coincides with return to civilisation.
Note: none of these updates can mean I need help. There is a unique Help alert that carries that meaning and is dealt with separately.
How do you pronounce Kyrgystan?
Where is Kyrgystan?
Central Asia. South of Russia, West of China
What timezone is that?
Who are you travelling with?
I’m going on my own.
How are you getting to Kyrgystan?
Turkish Airlines: Manchester to Osh, via Istanbul.
How long are you going for?
2 weeks (30th September – 15th October)
Where are you going?
Why Karavshin & Jiptik valleys?
There are unclimbed peaks in the area which I plan to scout/photograph. In addition, the scenery is reputedly comparable to Yosemite but in my 300 page guidebook of Kyrgzystan (2011), Batken province was given just 3 pages, and the Karavshin/Ak-Suu area was mentioned in passing in just one paragraph.
Also, it’s the only state in Central Asia with no visas for UK-visitors.
The area is traveled but certainly not well traveled. Seems like enough reasons to me!
What are you aims?
Meet and understand the landscape and people of the Karavshin & Jiptik valleys.
Where will you be staying?
I will probably mostly be camping, though I may do a few homestays in yurts.
Is it easy to get there?
No, it’s a bit of a ballache. Kyrgystan is 90% mountainous, but also, due to the Soviet Union days of Stalin, there are lots of enclaves and exclaves of various different countries in the area… and the main roads go through them. This means that to drive from Osh to Batken, I have to drive round Sohk, and Uzbek enclave (as I don’t have a transit visa), and the avoid the Uzbek border. When I leave Batken for Karavashin, I have to avoid or otherwise pass through the Tajik enclave of Vorukh…. and to go to the Karavashin area, I need a permit allowing me near the border, as it is close to the border with Tajikistan.
And that’s just the access issues.
Actually finding out everything above was also pretty challenging (and perhaps not accurate!). I don’t expect execution to be as simplistic as I explained.
I’m using a local travel company – Karavshin Travel – in Batken to help with a few things, but I’ve no idea how it will play out.
It wouldn’t be adventure travel, if I knew all the variables.
What are the dangers?
- Aggressive/corrupt police
- Landmines (near borders)
- Civil/ethnic unrest
- Developing country medical care
- Alcoholics / cheap vodka
- Rare Snow Leopards
- Impaling myself on twigs
- Lack of reading material
Have you done anything like this before?
I’ve a good deal of solo trekking experience in England and Scotland and notably last year I spent 2 weeks backpacking through the northern Sweden, in the Arctic circle
Kyrgyzstan doesn’t speak English, even as a second language, how will you communicate?
The locals may speak Kyrgz, or they may speak Tajik, Uzbek or other central Asian languages.
Kyrgyzstan’s second official language is Russian, a foreign language I scored an A in, many years ago, at GCSE. I don’t speak Russian very well anymore, but I can read/spell out Cyrillic and, with the help of a phrasebook, I expect to be able to make myself understood.
Are you taking a satellite phone?
No. If you want to catchup, drop me message and suggest sometime when we can chat when I’m home!? Catchups are good.
What happens in event of an emergency?
In the event I require assistance, my SPOT satellite device will alert 10 friends/family who will probably then contact my travel company in Batken. They will look at the information available to them and make decisions on that.
Are you scared?
No. What is there to be scared of?
If you buy a car, but are too scared of scratching it to take it out of the garage, then there’s no point having such a nice car.
If you have a nice camera but are so scared of losing it that you refuse to take it to places where you’d want nice photos, then there’s no point having such a nice camera.
If you have a nice life, but you’re so scared of taking calculated risks that you don’t get to have fun, then frankly, what’s the point?
I see the world, not as a world of dangers, but as a world of opportunities.
I’ve written about this in more detail in two blog posts:
Is Google Maps the best maps you have?
Fortunately not. I’m navigating off a 1980 1:200,000 Soviet military map, that I have printed to A2 (each square = 4km), and several fragments of 1:100,000 that cover the same area. You can browse the maps with ease on toppomapper.com.
How bad will your withdrawal symptoms be through lack of internet?
Pretty bad… my hair may start falling out. Oh wait, it already is.
I’m kind of looking forward to it – last October I did 12 days in Sweden without internet.
How much does your rucksack weigh?
18kg (inc camera, ex. water)
What’s in your rucksack?
Surely you don’t need XXXX?
If I didn’t feel it was necessary, I wouldn’t be taking it. We may have to agree that we have different definitions of “necessary”.
What money are you taking?
Kyrgyzstan uses the “som”, which isn’t a very strong currency. I’m taking US dollars and some euros I have left over and am going to change them on arrival.
This doesn’t seem very organised, how long have you been planning this?
About 9-10 days from concept to takeoff.
Basically, I had been mis-counting my holidays, and so when I noticed the end of my holiday year approaching, I did a check, and rather than finding I owed holiday, I found I was owed about 2 weeks of holiday…
At that point, began the rush to find a way to make use of my time. After much thought, this was what I decided on.
This sounds very stressful. Wouldn’t you prefer to sit on a beach somewhere and have a casual beer?
I think by “stressful” you mean “exciting”. Having said that, I love beer and beach holidays as much as anyone else, they’re rarely “exciting” though.
Aren’t you vegetarian? Won’t that be tricky in Kyrgyzstan?
Well, for me, it’s a lot less tricky, as I’ve 22 years experience at it, but it’s true to point out that most Kyrgz recipes start with “first you kill your sheep”.
Being sufficiently polite and respectful is far more a concern for me than starvation – bread is an important part of Kyrgz culture and I’m certain I’ll find something to eat.
Why are you vegetarian?
It’s a long story. 22 years long, and I’ve summarised why in a previous blog post.
What will you be eating?
Whilst I’m in the mountains, I anticipate eating expedition food which I spared no expense in buying from a British supermarket. Food is a strangely polarising subject, and I anticipate no end of criticism for my choice to carry food from the UK.
How long will it take you to get your photos online afterwards?
I anticipate taking 2000-5000 photos, perhaps 2-6 hours video footage. I’d anticipate that only about 5% of that will be of interest to most people. Separating that 5% is time consuming and somewhat draining – 6 hours work in several stages. I’ll get it done, but it’ll take time and energy, both of which I won’t have. Expect a multiweek lag.
Who’s paying for your trip?
I’m entirely self-funded.
Are you receiving support from anyone?
When an alert is raised via this system, the oncall engineer is alerted and/or woken up, and goes and deals with the problem.
I’m very confident in my colleagues, and so, by hooking my call for help into Bytemark systems, my colleagues can help alert my ground-team straight away, so help can be sent straight away.
I’m very grateful for Bytemark’s support on this front – not every organisation would be comfortable with such a thing – so I really appreciate working with people who are happy to watch my back.
Any words of gratitude?
I’d like to thank my family, for their positive outlook on everything. It’s really been a great influence on me.
My awesome girlfriend Clara for happily letting me go off and do my own crazy things, and then happily suggesting we go camping in March in the UK. <!–more pukeworthy comments–>
John Proctor for suggestions and moral support and for his part in the Muzkol 2013 expedition with Jonathan Davey, which partly served as encouragement and inspiration. John’s other climbing buddy, Ed Lemon, also deserves a pint for map assistance.
Anita Wilczynska, my former trekking buddy from Morocco, for moral support & encouragement – it’s appreciated!
My sister & her partner for being part of our safety web – thanks!
My colleagues at work, and the building security guard for putting up with most of Amazon, being delivered to our office, for the past 2 weeks.
Who’s influenced and inspired you?
Jessica Watson, Laura Dekker, Robin Knox-Johnson, Pete Goss, Ellen MacArthur, Mike Perham, Joe Simpson, Tom Allen, Theodora Sutcliffe and Zac Sutcliffe, Alexis Ohanian, Tim Moss
Both sets of grandparents’ own style of epic voyages and casual “jaunts” round unusual places.
Who are you raising money for?
Can I pay for your holiday?
I recommend giving money to your favourite charity instead.
Howto access EZTV.it and FirstRow1.eu if you’re on Virgin Media, Sky, BT, TalkTalk, Be, Plusnet, O2, Orange or T-MobileFriday, July 26th, 2013
You may be aware that in the last few days, Virgin Media, Sky, TalkTalk, Virgin Media, O2, Be, Plusnet, Post Office broadband, Orange and T-Mobile and others started to block EZTV.it and FirstRow1.eu in the UK because of a MPA/FACT court order.
Why are they being blocked? The MPA – the US movie trolls industry body – and the ironically named “FACT” – the UK copyright trolls lobby group ordered the block in the high court. These are the same sorts of organisations that are happy the Pirate Bay got blocked.
The people responsible for the block are the BPI – only they can get a court to lift it. The Open Rights Group and UK Pirate Party are campaigning to end the blocking – joining those campaigns will be most likely to make the FACT and the MPA change their mind.
There are several methods to bypass the block, but let’s begin with the simplest way to get around FACT’s blocking – here are some links to some very straightforward proxies and mirrors you can use to get on the site.
Unblocking and accessing EZTV and/or FirstRow1 is really easy, here’s a bunch of proxies:
A walk up The Band to Bowfell via Climbers Traverse, then Crinkle Crags via Bad Step, descending back to Dungeon Ghyll.
I shot with a Canon 5D mkII with a 50mm f1.8.
All photos are “Copyright Tim Dobson 2013″, and are licenced under Creative Commons BY-SA 3.0. Please attribute “Tim Dobson / tdobson.net” wherever you use them.
I shot with a Canon 5D mkII with a 24-105 f4.
All photos are “Copyright Tim Dobson 2013″, and are licenced under Creative Commons BY-SA 3.0. Please attribute “Tim Dobson / tdobson.net” wherever you use them.
Since returning from lots of snowy Torridonian excitement, I’ve been missing my chances to head out into exciting bits of the country and have been soaking up the joys of Manchester.
Glen Coe is a stunning location near Fort William, surrounded by possibly some of the best hiking in the UK. Ben Nevis is obviously the big name that world+dog forever is walking up the tourist path to the top of for charity, but there’s so much more to the area than the Ben Nevis tourist path. In fact, if you asked me to name my least favourite place in the area, it’d probably be the Glen Coe tourist path. Seriously, don’t do it. If you must do it, know that it will not be enjoyable.
 In my book, Torridon currently outranks it by a hairlength.
But Glen Coe has many more exciting (perhaps less easily accessible!) things to do – the Aonach Eagach – serious and committing ridge scramble, not for the faint hearted, Bidian Nam Bian, probably one my favourite mountains of the area thus far, Ben Nevis’s non-tourist route – ascent via the Càrn Mòr Dearg (CMD) arete.
Just north of Glen Coe are two ranges of munros – the Mamores and the Grey Corries Ridge – both ridges which aren’t too easily accessible by car, but which look like epics in themselves.
The coming week I’m planning to head up to Glen Coe, spend a few days doing day hikes from a campsite, and them embark on a 4-5 day trek across the Mamores and Grey Corries ridge, starting in Glen Nevis, and finishing at the station in Fort William.
Can I compare this to anything I’ve done previously? Possibly this time in Sweden – except there I followed a valley route, it was much colder, and I stayed in huts about 50% of the time, it’s somewhat comparable to both of these expeditions to the lakes, though I’d envisage camping at a higher level than I did on either of those occasions, and largely, following a set ridgeline, rather than making a crossing of several valleys.
As it’ll be interesting – not outrageously challenging, but there will be some scrambling involved, I’m trying to cut my rucksack weight to an utter minimum. My tent, sleeping bag etc, kit is all very light (apart from my camera!), but I’m going to be testing a theory, and I won’t be taking a stove at all.There’s a theoretical weight trade off between taking a stove, so you can rely on dried food like pasta, noodles, etc and “just adding warm water”. My theory is, that whilst that is true for long treks, it is less true for relatively short moves, where you can trade off the weight and simply take food you can eat cold. Of course, cooked food is nice and warming… but that train of thought fails to take into account what you’re supposed to do whilst it’s cooking (answer: freezing your bollocks off outside!) and whether it might be warmer to get inside your sleeping bag, and then eat some food.
Obviously, it remains to be seen, but the number of times I’ve taken stoves and dried food, and then not used them, for an entire two day trip, means that it’s worth the trial.
What am I going to take? I asked this question on Facebook and didn’t realise that it’d be such an emotive topic. I’m not sure. Probably a list of my favourite cold food: bread, cheese, tomato(s), peanut butter and that sort of thing. It’s 4-5 days, I won’t starve. (Did you know that the longest recorded of someone going without food is a year and 14 days?).
I currently have a resident knee injury, but I’m hoping my poles, plus liberal helpings of ibruprofen will see me round. If not, I’m not the person to do silly things – I give up and head back along the valleys.
What will it be like? I’m not sure. I think this will probably be my most lightweight trek thus far (in one of my lake district hikes – I carried a laptop – meaning I can now claim to have carried a laptop to the top of Scafell Pike… whatever that’s worth!) and that should make things quite a bit easier. In addition, hiking poles can really help steady you when you’re unbalanced due to a weighted back.
I’m looking forward to it. The camera is ready, the bag is half packed and I’m raring to go!
Bring it on!
As I mentioned, I almost never post photos of people, because it’s always an unnerving process with much too potential to cause conflict.
Therefore, I was very careful to seek full permission to publish this photo, but since it is already been published in various places (excitingly possibly also being my first photo in print media?) and was taken specifically for the purposes of distribution, things are much easier.
The context is obviously the exciting things happening at work, and so we needed some photos to illustrate this. It’s surprisingly difficult to take “exciting” photos, of something that’s rather intrinsically unexciting – two people standing in an empty room – without props – but that’s what we needed to do. I don’t really have much experience of shooting these kinds of environments, indeed, shooting indoors isn’t something I do all that much, and if I do, there’s usually something genuinely interesting happening to photograph.
However with Steve‘s help and suggestions and some clever trickery triggering some external flashes, I managed to come up with this:
I was shooting with my 5D, with the 24-105 f4 and you can see all the conditions in the EXIF info.
I really like how I managed to get the space in using the wide angle, but still have the interesting subjects – and by not having them stood side by side, make it looks slightly more interesting.
If I was going to recreate it, I’d aim the flash up a bit, and see whether we could get the faces lit slightly more appealingly, or see whether various different arm movements made it even more interesting, but all in all, I’m quite pleased with it.
When I work from home, I usually work with my curtains closed, partly because of prying eyes in the street, and partly because the extra light makes the screen hard to read.
Yesterday, I saw, through a gap, a glimmer than suggested I should have a quick look.
I didn’t regret it: