Back in March, I got a call from my buddy Rage to check out a line on Abai Peak that is very visible from the city of Almaty. Arrangements were made for an early start, and we ended up snagging this line which was probably the best of the Spring season for me.
You might have noticed I don’t write too much about the actual city of Almaty on my blog. It’s great, but I been having too much fun in the mountains to reflect about the city very often. A colleague of mine, who is new to the city, has been exploring and eloquently writing about his first experiences here. I recommend checking out Cousin Dampier’s blog if you want to see Almaty through another foreigner’s eyes.
The city sweats. Faces are sweaty and people are sweaty and car seats are sweaty and the walls are faded from that kind of heat that makes it all sweaty. Almaty should be dustier than it is. The buildings have that wind-blasted quality about them, smooth yellow-brown cinder block mated with yellow-brown plaster. White is the trim of choice, setting the window frames apart from the muddied world behind them.
Even in the heat, people are out, walking, carrying bags. It is not packed-crowded, like New York. It is less busy than that, but just as unfriendly. Smiling is not the Kazakh way, yet because they don’t smile out of nature, they are friendlier than New York where people don’t smile because the mass of people is painful.
And then one day it changes. One morning I awoke with my blankets pulled up over my head, instead of thrown to…
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Jon Jay’s Note: My great friend Jon put this up nearly a month ago, not long after I arrived in Kazakhstan. The dude is a simply amazing writer, so I’m honored and touched that he wrote about this trip I’m on. You should definitely subscribe to his blog right now. I’m sending good vibes that he has a great winter back in Colorado and wherever he travels to, which will inevitably be awesome. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get to ski those Altai Mountains with him.
The greeting of choice for a generation. No matter how far the distance it fits. Jon was leaving for a year and that’s as creative as it got. A friend forged through miserably cold days on mountainsides throughout the Intermountain West; and equally miserable mornings couch-bound throughout that same Intermountain West.
Jon Jay is one of the smartest people, period. He is also a beast on snow and dirt. Mr. Jay should be your hero. Right now he is halfway around the world in Kazakhstan, chasing down a dream. Jon has been hungry for years, longing to explore and to push the limits of his world. When he said he was going to serve abroad in Kazakhstan and bag first ascents/descents in mountains halfway around the world, few doubted him. He moved less than two weeks ago to teach English at a university and to explore the Altai mountains…
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(Editor’s Note:I skied this line back in 2009 with Jenny. I didn’t really take any pictures the second time around, so I’ll point you to Collin’s well-written post about our Memorial Day Mission.)
On May 28th Jon Jay and I set out for an early morning assault toward a thin Box Creek Cirque on Mt. Elbert. I climbed Mt. Massive over 5 years ago and have wanted to get after Elbert for a while now. However, I figured if I was going to climb it, I’d rather get a good ski in as well. I’d just been waiting for the right time and Jon was down for the trip… it was on!
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