Tajikistan - Silk Powder Heliskiing
The Pamir, one of the highest mountain ranges in the world, - fascinating, pristine and stunningly beautiful - runs west to east through Tajikistan. It is where we visited a completely new and untouched spot in March 2020 and were immediately convinced by this gem.
Price 7500 EUR
A Very Recently Discovered Heliski Territory
For many years we have been eyeing up the western foothills of the Pamir Mountains, also known as Fann Mountains. This area experiences deepest winter from November through to May, with snow depths of up to 6 metres. On a late-summer journey in 2018 we first got to discover this amazing country with its lovely people and awe-inspiring mountains. We were able to make some precious new contacts and discuss and organize the first important steps to establish a new heliskiing destination in the region.
A ski-touring scouting trip in March 2020 entirely convinced us that the terrain offers uncountable possibilities and will make every skier’s heart leap with joy. If you want to join us doing first descents and discovering new and long unknown terrain, this is the perfect trip for you.
10 Good Reasons to Heliski in the Pamir
- Fly directly from Frankfurt to Dushanbe in only six hours
- Short transfer times (1,5 hours only) from Dushanbe to our base
- Ski in one of the highest mountain ranges on Earth
- Feel safe with Flory Kern and the highest possible safety standards
- New Airbus helicopter
- Experienced pilots from the Alpine Countries
- Guaranteed snow cover
- Exclusive heliski trip with only 4 guests per mountain guide and max. 3 groups
- New hotel with spa and sauna right in the ski area
- Cable car access from the hotel on non-flying days
Arrival in the Pamir
Every Saturday there is a direct flight from Frankfurt to Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan. The flight takes a mere 6 hours and the airport in Dushanbe, a city of 700.000 inhabitants, has a manageable size. Due to the well-maintained road, it takes our shuttle bus only 90 minutes to take you to our beautifully located mountain hotel on 2200 m. After a decent breakfast we will get you acquainted with the location and the heliskiing practise, so that in the early afternoon we can already take off for a few unforgettable runs.
Skiing in its Most Sublime Form
In the following days we have sufficient time to check out the Highlight Runs of the Western Pamir. The sheer size of this mountain range exceeds every known dimension. The Kyrgyz border in the east is 1000 kilometres away, and in a radius of 30 kilometres we can find so many runs that a full season wouldn’t be enough to ski them all. At the end of an action-packed day we will get dropped off on one of the home peaks to enjoy a sundowner directly back to the hotel, where a well-deserved beer and a snack await us on the terrace. The following Friday after skiing we will be taken back to Dushanbe, where we can try the culinary specialties of the country and experience some more local culture. In the early morning hours we will make our way back to Frankfurt.
Our base will be in a hotel in Safed Dara, a small winter sports location from the Soviet-era. Times were rough in Tajikistan after the collapse of the Soviet Union, so that skiing was one of the last things on people’s minds. Only six years ago, the first attempts were made to revive the ski area with various funds. Old T-bars were repaired, a brand-new 8-man Doppelmayr cable car was built, and the hotel was completely renovated. Apart from a handful of day-trippers from Dushanbe, this place does not see a lot of tourists.
Safety and Quality
Safety and quality are our absolute priority. Although we always aim to provide the best experience for our guests, we will never do so by compromising their safety. Any risks that can be influenced are kept thoroughly within our control. As with any activity in high alpine regions including heli-skiing, there are also risks that are beyond our control. You should be aware that we are not exempt from these risks when skiing in the remote places of our planet. Given that we are far away from any rescue services, we have developed our own rescue protocol. A group consists of a maximum of four guests and one guide. We will generally be out with three groups at a time. The groups will follow a rotating system, meaning that the other groups with their guides are never far off in an emergency. We additionally equip ourselves with first-aid material and rescue equipment, and possess the necessary expertise and practice for its use. We also always keep a satellite phone by our side. Our biggest plus concerning safety are our 20 years experience with heli-skiing.
Runs and Terrain
There is a lot of variety when it comes to runs and terrain in the Pamir Mountains. It has everything from high alpine glaciers to runs below the treeline. Our landing spots are usually between 2800 and 4200 metres, and, weather permitting, we can ski runs with a total of 2000 vertical metres. We have choice of varying steepness, and the spectrum ranges from gentle runs below 30° to long, steep descents that will make your hearts beat faster.
Helicopter and Pilots
In the Pamir Mountains we use the latest Airbus AS 350 E helicopter. This has become the helicopter of choice for small groups for heliskiing operations worldwide. Its powerful engine will propel us smoothly and quickly to heights of over 4000 metres. It offers space for four guests, one guide, and one pilot per flight. The helicopter is on standby in the garden of our hotel. Our pilots are from alpine countries and have years of experience with heliskiing. We offer a large and exclusive heli-ski area to only 12 guests a week and therefore only have one helicopter on site. Despite having the best maintenance and a local mechanic, unforeseen defects can ground the helicopter for short periods. Any faults can usually be resolved within 24 hours.
Requirements for Guests
In order to get the most out of this week of heliskiing/heliboarding, you should have a very good skiing technique in all terrains and snow conditions. Good physical condition and endurance are especially required for the long runs at an altitude of up to 4000 meters. This destination is for advanced powder skiers and snowboarders with the necessary experience only. Flory Kern – Ski Berge Abenteuer – can refuse individuals the right to participate if they hold up the group, pose a danger, or show conditional weaknesses. In such cases, these individuals may be flown back to the base during the day.
Freeride skiing equipment (min. 95mm under the binding) and safety equipment (shovel, probe, avalanche beacon, and airbag backpack) are compulsory. Safety equipment, including a Scott Alpride avalanche backpack, can be hired from us free of charge. A helmet is recommended. A detailed packing list will be provided approximately 30 days prior to departure. Each participant is responsible for his gear being in good and working order. Replacing or renting material in the local area will hardly be possible. However, we do carry a few extra pairs of skis in case of loss or damage.
We, of course, also love to cruise through the deepest powder with the sun shining – but this requires regular dumps of fresh snow and favourable weather conditions. As in all mountainous regions, both snowy and sunny days are part and parcel of winter in the Pamir Mountains. On average there are 2-3 days of snowfall for every 7 days of sunshine.
February and March normally offer perfect powder conditions on northeast to northwest facing slopes. As anywhere else in the world, in the Pamir we can experience down days as well as the best rides of our lives. In spite of generally favourable factors, heliskiing in the Pamir is of course dependent on weather, snow, and avalanche conditions. Uncontrollable and sometimes unpredictable forces of nature exist in the mountains. Therefore, our sport is not always perfect, which is something that we should all be accordingly prepared for. It is not possible to perfectly predict the weather and conditions in advance. The week may offer the most fulfilling skiing experience of your life, but it may also be a disappointment if the weather and snow conditions do not meet your every expectation.
Bad Weather Days / Down Days
As with all heliski destinations, there are also days that can have very heavy snowfall or thick cloud coverage. In some cases, this could lead to unsafe flying conditions and the risk of flying would disproportionately outweigh any benefits. However, our location in Safed Dara gives us the option of making use of the new cable car to still enjoy a few turns. If you bring your skins and touring bindings/free-ride bindings with touring function, we can hike up the 300 m to the Pyk 2900. From there we have access to a great run leading directly to our hotel.
Flying Time and Vertical Meters
As always, we want to provide ‘a destination for riders, from riders’. That’s why we have even adapted our whole philosophy of flying time and vertical metres to match this line of thinking. We aim to offer you the best possible skiing experience that our package can provide. Our package includes 14 hours of flying per week (with 12 guests), which amounts to approximately 35,000 to 40,000 vertical metres. If we exceed this limit, we can continue flying at the price of 2,500 EUR per hour, which will be divided by the number of clients flying. In our package we are able to guarantee nine hours of flying per week. If we fly fewer than nine hours due to poor weather conditions, each client will be reimbursed 175 EUR per hour for the unused hours. If a guest is unable to fly due to a lack of physical fitness, sickness, late arrival, or early departure, we will unfortunately not be able to reimburse any costs.
Number of Guests and Exclusivity
We want to offer an exclusive heliskiing experience, away from mass tourism, in the spectacular Pamir Mountains. Our trips are therefore ‘semi-private’ and only open to 12 guests a week. The clients are divided into three groups, which follow a rotating system that has proven itself over decades. Therefore, waiting times and delays rarely occur. Each group of four guests is accompanied by one of our guides, who know the terrain like the back of their hand.
The hotel was built in the early 1980s and then was completely renovated 6 years ago. The rooms are beautifully furnished, but no luxury suites. Each room has a spacious bathroom with shower. In the annex you can find the spa area – a rare luxury in this region. Enjoy a sauna, a whirlpool and a small swimming pool to recuperate your strength after a hard day of skiing. Breakfast and dinner are served at the hotel. While the breakfast options are a little limited by our standards, the dinner choices certainly make up for it. Choose from 5 delicious, freshly made main-courses, accompanied by salads and typical soups. Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages can be bought at the restaurant.
General information about the country
Tajikistan is fairly unknown and unexplored as a travelling and skiing destination, not least due to the vastness of the country and the lack of infrastructure in the far-off regions of the Pamir Mountains. What never ceases to amaze us is the hospitality and friendliness of the people. In spite of the general poverty of its inhabitants, the country is clean and well looked after. You won’t find discarded rubbish anywhere, and even the simplest home is neat and clean. Just like its owners. People greet and help each other and seem to be very reliable and honest. The younger generation even speaks very good English. Apart from Russian, Farsi (Persian) is the official language. The majority of the population is Muslim, but religion isn’t very important to the people. Aga Khan is the leader of the Ismailis, who mainly live in the east of the country. He is very influential and invests in schools and infrastructure, with a big focus on educating the country.
Flory Kern has explored this new free-ride area together with the Zermatt Freeride Pro and mountain guide Sam Anthamatten. Just like Flory, Sam was absolutely enthused by the opportunities this area has to offer and will certainly be part of the team again in 2022.
Prices in Tajikistan
The prices in Tajikistan are relatively low for our standards. Going out for dinner in the capital will cost you between 3 and 15 euros. Alcoholic beverages are pretty cheap in comparison as well. Kerosene and petrol, however, are more expensive than in Central Europe.
It is no must, but tipping is a great way to say thank you to all the people – pilot, mechanic, guides, and hospitality staff - who helped to make a spectacular week happen.
Included in the price of 7500 EUR
- 6 nights at Mountain Hotel Safed Dara with half-board (breakfast, packed lunch and dinner)
- 1 Night in Dushanbe Hotel with farewell dinner
- 7 days accompanied by UIAGM certified mountain guides
- 6 days of skiing accompanied by a UIAGM certified team of mountain guides
- 14 hours of flight time or approximately 35,000 vertical metres (with 9 hours of guaranteed flight time)
- Packed lunch on heli-skiing days
- A lift pass for the ski resort on down days
- The hire of safety equipment (Avalanche beacon, shovel, probe, Scott Alpride avalanche airbag system)
- All necessary flight and border permits for the heliski operation
- All local transfers, such as from and to Dushanbe
- Travel from Central Europe to Dushanbe (from 550 EUR)
- Activities not listed in the program
- Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages at the hotel
- Additional flight hours are 2400 EUR per hour, divided by the number of those flying (usually 12 people)
- Surcharge for single occupancy is 50 EUR per night
EU citizens require an online visa, which you need to apply for at least 4 weeks before starting your journey (costs: approx. 70 EUR). https://www.visa.gov.tj/index.html
All other nationalities need to check with their foreign affairs ministry or the tajik embassy.
Meeting Requirements and Fitness Level
A realistic self-assessment and an appropriate fitness level is required to join our trips. In order to enjoy a long day of skiing and to reduce the risk of injury, it is important to get in shape and possess a good level of fitness.
Current Country-Specific Information, Vaccines and Health
Please contact your own ministry of foreign affairs for current information about your destination.
Please note that there is a potential risk of injury on skiing trips. In addition to travel cancellation insurance, comprehensive medical and accident insurance that cover the costs of search and rescue, as well as transport costs, are imperative. It is your own responsibility to ensure that you are insured before departure.
Comprehensive medical and accident insurance that covers potential costs of search and rescue operations as well as any medical costs is mandatory for all of our trips abroad.
It is required that you state this information during registration in our registration form in order to ensure 24h emergency assistance.
Links to Insurance Companies:
Please also check your credit card policies as it is possible that these already include insurance.