A short cut & a Gold mine

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September 2nd 2014
Published: September 3rd 2014
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Steep sided valley runs up to high plateau
For run back to Bishkek, had spotted a short cut to Izzyk Kol over mountains, was this a good idea?

Started bit late at 1pm for 150km jolly, nice to start with, but 4 river crossing (wet socks) and topped out on glacial moraine heap at 3800m, generally another good day.

Stopped in another version of Butlins by Issyk kul, a nice salty swim in morning.

Owner told me about the biggest gold mine in world, yields 20t of gold /year, just 130km away at 4000m. They say London's roads paved in gold - I don't think so just too many pot holes, but the gravel track to mine was smooth hardly a bump for 100km - what money can do!. Hairpins were steep for trucks (which had to turn 140deg, then back up 4m to achieve turn), Bull-dust heard the term & was told worst conditions for bikes but never seen any, well it is fine talkcom powder with small rocks lost in it, makes for tricky uphill turns.

Lots of environmental issues suround mine, but government cannot manage with out income, 7.7% of GDP from mine alone. So is bit like
wild riverwild riverwild river

In years gone by, I would have been here with kayaks, to consider possibilities of grade V+ rapid under bridge.
Eggar in Hexham, jobs and wealth out vote environment issues, but they use cyanide here by truck full to extract gold.

Additional photos below
Photos: 15, Displayed: 15


steepens at end.steepens at end.
steepens at end.

Can U see track running up left side?
track vanishedtrack vanished
track vanished

Big holders washed down block track. Back track 300m go down valley floor cross shingle beaches, though smaller streams.
another river crossinganother river crossing
another river crossing

Probably foot deep, certainly over my boots. Tricky, where is backup, a local 5km back who spoke little english, no mobile phone signal - but who to ring. Turning round also tough as 3 rivers to cross back over.
Track downTrack down
Track down

Started on rock piles up down 1m bumps, would certainly bottom a Toyota Land cruiser, little 4WD Lara do OK. Then gravel Travck to end with 10km of sand
Polish push bikersPolish push bikers
Polish push bikers

Had lunchwith Michal & Gosham next day. They rode their bikes over same route, I could not lift his bike!
Kumtor Gold mineKumtor Gold mine
Kumtor Gold mine

The closest I got to 4km from mine. Huge,vtwo big holes just eating away at mountain at 4000m altitude. Also glacier is suffering and pollutant run down river.
open cast mineopen cast mine
open cast mine

Picture from mine web site. Biggest dump truck run round leges to carry ore to plant.
Digging operationDigging operation
Digging operation

Also web image.
Looking EastLooking East
Looking East

Found another little track to south, over highest pass yet 3965m, but was cold 8°C, vs 25°C down by lake Issyk kul. Smooth tracks down, but wish I had warm jumper!
Beach on Issyk KulBeach on Issyk Kul
Beach on Issyk Kul

Nice beach 60m from my hut, bit salty, just about 20°C, a nice temperature in autumn, rather colder in spring.

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