Boxi sent us the following short travel report:
"Right from the first day it was clear to me just how important my planning, my equipment and my water reserves were going to be for the ultimate success of the trip!
[Boxi works as an external consultant for UP, focussing on lightweight gear. He flew the new UP Trango X-Light2 on this adventure]
Urs had to return to Dushanbe in a sorry state of dehydration, and with a shoe that had come apart, while I laboured on, suffering from the lack of water and managing to forget the GSM phone in the high grass. To make matters worse even the sattelite phone then went on strike, and these communication troubles meant that some intense misunderstandings arose between me and my longtime friend, leading to him jumping on the second-best plane for home after just three days – sadly carrying most of the maps in his backpack...
The decision to push on alone was taken the same evening, sitting high on a bluff overlooking the bright lights of Dushanbe.
Two days later, under booming skies, I put in the first +100km flight. Orienting myself along the valley Rast was pretty easy, a good thing since my remaining map only started at the Kirgistan border near Jirgatol. This large-scale map was to be my guide into the wilds of the Pamirs and out again on the Issyk Kul lakeshore. The valley floor in these parts climbs progressively among the 7000'ers to around 4500m, and leads to a pass at +5000m. I had decided that I would be prepared to try and negotiate the pass on foot in case the flying didn't come together, in spite of not carrying any crampons – without water I was already carrying 16kgs, so keeping weight down was a permanent worry and had led to the crampons being left at home. As it turned out my worries were unfounded – already on the third day, launching in the best of moods into the best flight of my life, I put 230km behind me along with the high pass. As the terrain crept ever upwards, with the cloudbase and I following, we finally topped out at over 6500m! The views were gigantic, the landscape spectacular, with bare rock and glaciers dominating. In the end I landed near the Kara-Kul lake, situated in a high valley almost on the border between Tajikistan, Kirgistan and China.
That same night, alone in my little tent, I felt elated, intoxicated even with my flight, but also very lonely. Long days of rains and storms followed, testing my equipment and my mental stamina, but then the sun came back and I could return to the skies, with a short detour into lands that caused my ground-team back home to break out in a cold sweat from tracking me on the SPOT page. Alas, all is well that ends well, and I was quick to get back on track and continue towards my goal, the Issyk Kul.
My next flight took me along the Chrebet Atbasi chain to the Chatur Kul, a flight of more than 150km. The flying was impressive, and so was the hospitability of the locals – I would share the music from my iPod with them, they would share their food and their yurts with me. This caused the 2-week journey to become speckled with intensive experiences both from the air and from the ground, and when I finally landed on the shores of the Issyk Kul it felt like the perfect ending to an adventure that had started in low key but gone steadily upwards ever since.
Back home I found that I had lost some 9kgs around my waist while gaining countless unforgettable experiences. I'm now busy editing some 170GB of film and stills footage from my two GoPros, piecing together a film and a presentation about the adventure, to take on the road from this autumn – I hope many of you will join us and let me share this adventure with me!
I'd like to thank all those who sent me messages of encouragement along the way, you have contributed significantly to the success of the endeavour by boosting my morals and making me feel less alone whenever the physical situation was difficult!
Greetings from Stefan ”Boxi” Bocks"
Click on the "Image Gallery" link below to see a small sample of the GoPro images I made along the way - the images show, in the order they appear:
1: The big river crossing as I enter the Pamirs, East of Dushanbe
2: Crossing the Tadjik/Kirgistan border, high as a kite (!)
3: Some new friends in a Yurt - it is me in the middle
4: Flying across a big gap from the Chrebet Atbassi chain to the mountains near Naryn
5: Outside the home of a very friendly local family, my own little home on the right
6: A deer has met its maker on the Pamir Highway
7: Pamir Mountains view from the ground - is does look and feel pretty remote
8: Arriving at the Issyk Kul ("Kul" is a lake), big smile on cold face