Lake Issyk Kul, Kyrgyzstan, September 2015

IronMikeIronMike BostonCharter Member
edited September 2015 in Event Announcements

Hell with it. I had a good day. I'll announce now.

Ladies and gents, I hereby announce my attempt at swimming across lake Issyk Kul in Kyrgyzstan, sometime between 24-28 September.

Lake Issyk Kul is the second largest alpine lake (defined as a lake at an elevation of 5000 feet or higher) in the world. The lake is approximately 103 miles long by 36 miles wide, and sits at 5,253 feet elevation.

Now before you get impressed: I'm not swimming the length or width of the lake. No no no. I really should post this in the thread "Non-superhuman marathon swimmers." I am swimming a short, 8 mile section at the western end. I'll swim either to or from the village of Toru-Aygyr.

There is a reason for my choice of crossing. The Kyrgyz have a myth about a famous horse who crossed the lake at that end. The story is too long to tell here, but if you're interested, I retold the myth at my blog here. Anyway, I thought the distance would be a nice challenge for me at this point in my training (swimming on tethers in a 12m long pool!) and it would mean a lot to the Kyrgyz volunteers I've gathered.

The logistics for this thing have been a bear, language issues aside. I just spent the weekend with the only guy who has crossed the lake (as far as anyone can find), and he crossed it at the eastern end, doing 36K. I told him of my plans and hoped for his help procuring a boat, with no luck. (His crossings, yes, plural, were state-sponsored and the Russians provided him two coast guard cutters!) I have a tentative okay from him to be my observer though!

I spent the weekend searching the resort town of Cholpon-Ata for boat rentals. I found a scuba diving company that was willing to let me use their 50-person boat for a little over a thousand dollars (for a short time, price to go up). More than I needed. So I changed my plan to a "test swim" between two points around Cholpon-Ata, a distance of about 10 miles. I figured all I needed was a kayaker, as we'd be close to the shore, and someone to drive the truck to pick us up at the other end.

Well guess what you can't rent here in Bishkek? I called the four "outdoor" companies in the city. I can get skis and snowboards, but no kayaks or canoes. And I had a volunteer with a kayak, but they got a last minute assignment and flew out of Kyrgyzstan today. I was distraught. What the hell?

Today, with the help of a local Kyrgyz company that specializes in creating Yurt trips for folks, I found a boat rental place in Cholpon-Ata. And their prices are reasonable. So the crossing plan is back on!

So, bottom line: I will follow MSF rules with this one caveat: I can wear water shoes from the beach to the kayak (if I can find one) or boat, at which point I must take them off and give them to the crew. On the finish, I can have the water shoes thrown to me for my walk up the beach. I'm doing this because the "beaches" here are just pebbles, shaped so as to inflict the most pain on your feet. (It really is torture.)

I have all the paperwork in my Google if anyone would like to see it. I do not have a Spot Gen thingy, but I will have my Garmin on the boat and hope to have one of my sons on the boat with his portable internet router to do updates to my FB, which I'll pass on when the day comes. Also, once the observer is done with the notes and I get them translated, I'll upload both the Russian and English versions on here for everyone to see.

Again, it's just a small little crossing attempt, and I may not make it (water this weekend was 20C and it can only get colder, and I'm a wimp), but I at least want to try to cross this beautiful lake while I'm here. Our first trip to the lake as a family, my wife looked at me and said, "Mike, you have to try crossing this lake. There's something magical about it." I agree with her.

Just here troubling deaf heaven with my bootless cries...

evmoOnceaRunnerJustSwimdavid_barraKellieMvGdpm50JenApavlicovmalinakaand 3 others.

Comments

  • dpm50dpm50 PA, U.S.Senior Member

    Very cool! I wish you a "magical" swim too!

    Also "superhuman" is relative. If your relatives think you're superhuman, no worries! :)

    Rooting for your success!

    IronMike
  • I admire your tenacity! You probably have a list of open water swims unlike just about anybody else in the world. Very cool.

    (The only time I managed an FSU swim was a lake near Sergiev Posad...I'd say it was unassisted, but it was actually assisted by a lot of vodka and some large egos...)

    IronMikeJenA

    Grappledunk's Slightly Soggy Blog: http://grappledunk.wordpress.com/

  • IronMikeIronMike BostonCharter Member

    Had a slight bump yesterday when the lady manning the phones at the boat company decided that the crossing was too dangerous for me and her "small" boat (a 10-person boat). She said I needed to rent the larger boat, a 25-person boat. The small boat is ~$50/hour, the large boat ~$110/hour (YMMV, depending upon exchange rate).

    I told her (through my translator) No, I don't need that big of a boat for an 8-mile (oops, I mean 12.8km) crossing, and no, I don't care if there's no bathroom. (Guys can jump in or pee over the side. I think my female volunteers might choose to stay on land!) She said she had to talk to the boat captain...

    ...Who this morning said no problem. Phew!

    Of course, the jinx (kismet, karma, whatever) is alive and well in the former Soviet Union, so simply by typing this, I may have just screwed myself, and will receive a call telling me they changed their minds. (Of course, pointing out this jinx possibility may have canceled the jinx, but now what I'm typing may...oh dear God, this could go on forever!)

    OnceaRunnerKellieJenA

    Just here troubling deaf heaven with my bootless cries...

  • @IronMike - This is so great! Just think - in 20 years when Kyrgyzstan is the predominate world power in marathon swimming, the natives will say "Yes, it was due to IronMike's swim in 2015 that we took a interest in the sport. Of course, it was also sad that when he emerged from the water at the end, the local peasants killed him thinking he was a water demon, but they are a simple people and mean no harm."

    -LBJ

    evmoIronMikeswimdailypavlicovOnceaRunnerJenAKelliegregoc

    “Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.” - Oscar Wilde

  • IronMikeIronMike BostonCharter Member

    Don't jinx it @Leonard_Jansen! Bad enough that some of the shores around the lake are privately owned. I'm taking a Kyrgyz speaker this weekend to the lake so we can show the boat owner where I want to start and finish, and hope that if those beaches are privately owned, the Kyrgyz speaker can explain to them that I'm just some damn crazy American who loves the lake.

    I am going to propose to the dude I'm using as an observer that we form a "lake issyk kul swimming federation" or smthg like that, and then hold a polar bear dip, perhaps a week-long swimming festival next summer...

    dpm50

    Just here troubling deaf heaven with my bootless cries...

  • IronMikeIronMike BostonCharter Member

    No, no, a polar bear dip in January!

    Just here troubling deaf heaven with my bootless cries...

  • IronMike said:
    Don't jinx it @Leonard_Jansen! Bad enough that some of the shores around the lake are privately owned. I'm taking a Kyrgyz speaker this weekend to the lake so we can show the boat owner where I want to start and finish, and hope that if those beaches are privately owned, the Kyrgyz speaker can explain to them that I'm just some damn crazy American who loves the lake.

    That's easy. You only need a public area to START from. If you FINISH on private land and someone gets huffy, just cop a blank look and say something like "I love you too much, take me to Disneyland covered in butter" or similar in Kyrgyz (have your translator teach you beforehand). They will think you're crazy and no one fights with crazy people. If they are still mad, though, hand them a bottle of fermented goat pee or whatever the national drink is and that you have on board just in case of this. If they are STILL mad, dash back into the water and swim for the boat - no one will follow you there.

    I think you need to fly me over to manage this swim and provide a cell mate when we are arrested and tortured.

    -LBJ

    dpm50swimdailyIronMikeViveBeneJSwimtimsrootKellierosemarymint

    “Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.” - Oscar Wilde

  • IronMikeIronMike BostonCharter Member
    edited September 2015

    Jinx is still live. Original Cholpon-Ata boat company said no again, I have to take the bigger boat. BUT, it a rare instance of cooperation, they gave us the contact info for a captain in Balykchy, which is not only closer to Bishkek, but also closer to the start/finish. I'm going to talk to him on Sunday and show him where I want to start and finish. He's got the same small boat for the same price but his boat also has an electrical outlet!

    Speaking of start/finish, I found some old current data online and have decided to swim south to north. The day is set for 25 September. I'll have my son live-blogging it on my blog and if you're my FB friend he'll put updates on there, too.

    Thanks all for the support! That's why this community is the best.

    JSwimevmogregocOnceaRunnerJenA

    Just here troubling deaf heaven with my bootless cries...

  • @IronMike: Good luck with the logistics coming together, and with jumping in and hauling out at or close to desired points on the day itself! A following wind (not too much!) and warm temps on this alpine swim!

    @LBJ: Sounds like you might need a translator for this endeavor (in case you are put in separate cells); want to mash me into your luggage? :)

    dpm50IronMikeJenA
  • IronMikeIronMike BostonCharter Member

    Thanks @ViveBene

    Just here troubling deaf heaven with my bootless cries...

  • dpm50dpm50 PA, U.S.Senior Member

    ViveBene said:
    @LBJ: Sounds like you might need a translator for this endeavor (in case you are put in separate cells); want to mash me into your luggage? :)

    Could cause international issues if the luggage is X-rayed! :)

  • IronMikeIronMike BostonCharter Member

    The boat that'll escort me across the lake.

    JenAdpm50ViveBenepavlicovDeemaJSwimSydneD

    Just here troubling deaf heaven with my bootless cries...

  • IronMikeIronMike BostonCharter Member

    On the boat! More info on my blog

    JenA

    Just here troubling deaf heaven with my bootless cries...

  • IronMikeIronMike BostonCharter Member

    Спасибо, Ник. All did not go well. Full write-up to follow on the blog, but let's just say that the combination of 13C water (the water was 18C yesterday, dammit!) and huge waves/wind, meant I got to enjoy uncontrollable shivers and nausea the second-half of my record-breaking (contact Guiness) two hours and 31 freaking minutes swimming 4.6 friggin' kilometers. Apparently I was right on target (1.5k) the first half hour, but it just kept getting colder and windier. Couldn't handle drinking much on any of my feeds and never peed. Doc was starting to get worried. Two of my crew were knocked out with extreme motion sickness for the entire trip!
    My observer has wind data and well as temps. I'll upload the log to my blog in a couple days when I return to Bishkek. Ugh! Another DNF....dammit!

    JenAevmoJSwimViveBene

    Just here troubling deaf heaven with my bootless cries...

  • dpm50dpm50 PA, U.S.Senior Member

    Bummer! Sorry to hear it but glad you're safe! Live to swim another day, as they say! Speedy recovery meanwhile!

  • JenAJenA Charter Member

    @IronMike, you may have DNFed, but what a DNF! :) Now you get to start pub stories with "This one time? When I was in Kyrgyzstan's lake Issyk Kul..." Awesome. :)

    dpm50evmoJSwimViveBeneSydneDrosemarymint
  • JenAJenA Charter Member
    edited September 2015

    Screen Shot 2015-09-25 at 11.07.49 AM

    This meme plays off The Most Interesting Man in the World campaign. :-)

    dpm50loneswimmerevmoswimdailystephenc161mjstaplesJSwimViveBeneIronMikeSydneDand 3 others.
  • IronMikeIronMike BostonCharter Member
    edited September 2015

    Thank you all.
    And here's the lake today. Timing is everything. ;)

    Oh, and @JenA, you won the internet today. Thank you for my new profile picture.

    JenArosemarymintOnceaRunner

    Just here troubling deaf heaven with my bootless cries...

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