Virgin Peaks Expedition Information


As in previous years these will be co-ordinated by ITMC Tien Shan, Kyrgyzstan’s leading expedition company. The director, Vladimir Komissarov, was one of the leading mountaineers of the former Soviet Union and is now President of the Association of Mountain Guides of Kyrgyzstan. Vladimir, his camp staff, and porters (some of whom are strong mountaineers in their own right) will be working with us throughout the expedition. Through them we can share some of the 'Russian traditions' which have given Central Asia a unique mountaineering history. Nowhere else is Base Camp life so enjoyable!


Turkish Airlines operate regular flights to Bishkek (capital of Kyrgyzstan) via Istanbul from London, Manchester, Geneva etc. Wherever you depart from, it would be great if the expedition then all booked the same onward flight with Turkish Airlines from Istanbul to Bishkek so that we all arrive there together.

Note - Please contact Adrian for more detailed flight information before booking.


The expedition will convene at the Hotel Rich in Bishkek on Tuesday 18th August at 6pm. It runs over 19 days and finishes on Saturday 5th September. All accommodation is included from the night of August 18th until the morning of September 5th.





(Aug 18) Arrive early morning, after an overnight flight from Istanbul into Manus Airport, Bishkek, where we have a transfer to take us into the capital where we are booked into the Hotel Rich. After some rest, we'll have lunch and then spend the afternoon at the local markets and getting a feel for Kyrgyzstan's history sightseeing around Bishkek, before everyone coming together again at 7pm for a final briefing and evening meal at a local restaurant.



Final equipment check, then travel via Naryn to Char Canyon where we'll spend the first night.



We'll explore the rock climbing in Char Canyon and also the surrounding peaks and ridges, making first ascents, which will also start the acclimatisation process. It's a mix of exploration of a new area and range as well as good acclimatisation before we head into basecamp Fergana.



We'll have a second day exploring Char Canyon, which is huge in length and could open up many possibilities as might the surrounding area of limestone peaks and ridges.



A Tradition Kyrgyz Festival, laid on by the local Naryn community to celebrate both the traditional kyrgyz way of life and also to celebrate 25years of ISM running expeditions to Kyrgyzstan.


We drive from Char to the foothils of the Fergana range, to locate and set up our basecamp (BC)


7 - 16
Mountaineering in the Fergana Range. Typically we head off to explore the surrounding glaciers and peaks which helps with acclimatisation but also gives us the information we need to plan the first half of the trip, eyeing up virgin peaks and routes to attempt, from a possible high Advanced Base Camp (ABC). We then set up an ABC in our chosen location high up in a valley or on a glacier. From this high point we'll spend the next few nights attempting the surrounding Virgin Summits and routes. We then normally break ABC, returning to Base Camp (BC) for a much needed wash and rest. We then repeat this process, initially exploring another valley and glacier before setting up another ABC and again climbing more peaks. BC can also be a great source of unclimbed peaks and it may be that we have a couple of days just exploring unclimbed peaks from here. Base Camp generally stays as a constant, but our ABC's will move around giving the team the best chances of any Virgin Summit success. We keep radio or satellite phone contact with BC both for safety reasons and to also ensure that supplies are kept flowing up to ABC as required.


Travel to Tash Rabat in the morning where we'll spilt the journey to Naryn with an afternoon of relaxing, climbing, walking and sightseeing around the 15th century stone ‘Caravansari’.



Travel back to Bishkek with a short stop in Kochkor close to Naryn, to have a look at some locally produced felt and a chance to buy some felt gifts. We have a 'farewell dinner' back in Bishkek that evening.



(Sept 5) Expedition officially ends after a very early breakfast at the hotel. Members flying home directly transfer to Bishkek Airport, or ITMC can make and arrangements should you wish to extend your holiday in Kyrgyzstan.


ISM will provide the main medical kit, individual members need only bring a small personal first aid kit. We will have a satellite phone at base camp to give us weather reports and to enable us to summon a rescue helicopter in the unlikely event that it is needed. Vaccinations are not obligatory for the area, however some may be recommended by your GP.

As always we pay careful attention to ACCLIMATISATION and rarely, if ever, have any serious problems. Some people may choose to use Diamox on the trip - if so please consult your GP for advice.


All expedition members must have mountaineering insurance to cover medical and rescue expenses. For UK residents, suitable cover can be arranged through the following organisations/companies:

Austrian Alpine Club Tel: 01707 324835 Web:

Snowcard Tel: 01327 262805 Web:

BMC Tel: 0161 445 4747 Web:

Non-UK residents. If full insurance cover such as provided by the BMC and Snowcard is not available in your home country, non-UK residents can obtain cover by joining the Austrian Alpine Club.


ISM will provide all climbing hardware, ropes, cooking equipment, lightweight tents for the mountain and the main first aid kit. Individual members must bring:

  • Sleeping bag (expedition or ‘5 season’ quality)
  • Closed-cell foam sleeping mat and/or Thermarest
  • Rigid mountaineering boots (a warm B3 boot is recommended)
  • Rock climbing shoes (comfortable and large enough to take a thickish sock)
  • Thermal underwear, fleece shirt or similar, fleece jacket & pants
  • Extra fleece top or duvet, Goretex jacket and salopettes (or pants)
  • Mountain mitts/gloves, hat or balaclava, gaiters
  • Ice axe, ice hammer, crampons (with anti-ball plate)
  • Helmet, harness, 3 locking carabiners, belay plate
  • 2 long slings (120cm), 3 prussik loops, headtorch with spare batteries,
  • Climbing rucksack (55-70 litre), second sac or kitbag,
  • Trekking poles (collapsible for carrying whilst climbing) with snow baskets,
  • Glacier glasses, sun protection cream and lipsalve, water bottle,
  • Mug, bowl, spoon, shorts, sunhat, lightweight 'trekking' boots or approach shoes
  • Personal ‘travellers’ first-aid kit (headaches, diahorrea, minor cuts, blisters etc)
  • 'Wet Wipes'/alcohol hand gel for personal hygiene
  • 2 or 3 books, maybe a tot of something warming to drink at ABC!

In addition if you own a lightweight mountain tent (2 or 3-man) this is helpful in giving everyone some privacy at base camp and room to spread out their gear etc. Please let us know on the Booking Form.

Please see our Kyrgyzstan Equipment page for an article on equipment by Kyrgyzstan 'veteran' Steve Taylor.


Kyrgystan Visas: Citizens of many countries (including all of the EU and the US) no longer require a visa to visit Kyrgyzstan for less than 60 days. Full information at: Embassy of the Kyrgyz Republic, London, Tel: 0207 935 1462, email: Members from countries requiring a visa can get a letter of invitation from ITMC - just let us know.


The all-inclusive IN COUNTRY price for the expedition is £2995.00 This covers everything apart from drinks and restaurant meals in Bishkek. Single rooms are available for all hotel nights by paying a supplement of £50.


To book a place on the expedition, please email Adrian Nelhams to check availability and to receive an expedition booking form. Please complete the booking form and email it back to Adrian at A deposit of £600.00 must then be made to secure a place on the expedition. Adrian will email you the appropriate bank details, so that you can either send a cheque or make a bank transfer to confirm your place.


After your place has been secured by the deposit, we require a second payment of £600 by the end of March and the balance payment by June 12th. In case of cancellation, these payments are non-refundable so please ensure that you arrange your cancellation insurance immediately once the first payment has been made.

We look forward to welcoming you to this next ISM adventure!

Please phone or mail with any further questions:
Tel: + 44 (0)1539 721561 Email: