The top 3 backcountry skiing and snowboarding destinations in Kyrgyzstan

by | Jan 28, 2020

With its grassroots nomadic culture, enchanting Silk Road history, and nearly ninety mountain ranges crisscrossing the landscape, there’s a lifetime’s worth of adventure to experience in Kyrgyzstan. We take a look at the top three spots for skiing and snowboarding in the country:

Tucked away in the north-east corner of the country, the former mining village of Jyrgalan (2,477m) sits beneath the Chunkur Tor and Chaar Jon mountain ranges. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, this picturesque alpine hideaway – home to 1,000 people – faced economic uncertainty until 2016 when six local families formed a nonprofit social enterprise to support and promote community-based tourism in the area. Since then, it has proudly evolved into a hub for year-round adventure sports, with a dozen local guides arising from this visionary development initiative, along with a similar number of down-to-earth family-run guesthouses. The winter season kicks in from December, and the snow level generally sticks around the village until April. There are seven nearby peaks to choose from, and their countless powdery runs are accessible by private snowcat (up to 3,800m), snowmobile, or even on horseback

Song Kul
Song Kul is a 30km-long alpine lake remotely situated on a 3,000m high plateau in central Kyrgyzstan. In summer, a handful of yurt-dwelling herders inhabit the area, fattening up their livestock on the verdant grazing land around the water’s edge. Snow falls as early as November, covering the lake basin for up to two hundred days a year, and leaving the area mostly uninhabited. All except the hardiest, solitude-loving Kyrgyz remain, joined by snowsport lovers seeking out fresh powder on the lake’s three adjacent mountain ranges; Songköl Too in the north, and Moldo Too and Borbor Alabas in the south. Song Kul’s lack of infrastructure means any visit, especially in winter, requires total self-sufficiency and being prepared for big days in the mountains – the payoffs are long runs in a far-out backcountry setting, rest days spent ice fishing and laidback evenings in a yurt.

Resting on the southern slopes of the Fergana Range at 1,600m, Arslanbob’s peaks offer ample off-piste opportunities. From January to March, warm air rises from Uzbekistan’s nearby agricultural plains and whips together with Kyrgyzstan’s cold mountain air to form a generous dose of velvety powder. It’s possible to skin straight out of the village and choose from mellow lines weaving through walnut forests, Jaz-Jarym’s ridgelines, technical descents on Boobash-Ata’s (4,430m) steep south-facing slopes, and much more.

Despite Kyrgyzstan being a mecca for adventure sports, its full potential remains mostly untapped. Since the early 00s, the number of annual visitors has jumped from 450,000 to over 3 million in less than two decades. This might sound like a lot of people, but it’s minuscule compared to other mountain nations, such as Switzerland, which is five times smaller and has 20 million visitors a year! So, any traveller to this Central Asian nation is guaranteed an abundance of open space and endless tranquil days in the mountains..

In January 2021 we’ll be hosting an expedition to the #1 Freeride destination of Kyrgyzstan; Jyrgalan. Even though it’s a year away from now, the available spots of filling up fast. Real fast! We expect to sell out in less than a month. So please give us a line at should you wish to join this amazing, once in a lifetime adventure. Or check the Expedition page.

We look forward to hearing from you!