The southwestern slopes of the Ferghana Range have always been and remain mysterious for cavers. These limestone slopes of the ridge, overgrown with forest and shrubs, hide the caves. On the slopes there are a large number of springs. In the Tien Shan, these places are the most moist. The greatest amount of precipitation falls here – about 900-1000 mm per year.
Local residents have long been talking about the caves that they saw in different gorges. Our goal, in 2020, to explore some karst areas available for cars and horses. Therefore, we invite everyone to take part in the expedition to the Ferghana Range. The most attractive in our opinion are the areas under the names: Isfan-Jailoo, Seresu and the Kumysh plateau, as well as Kara-Alma (Kuraves).
The plateau Kumysh is on the Ferghana Range, 15 km to the west of Karasu Lake. The plateau was discovered by cavers in 1989. The height of the plateau is above 3100 m. The size of the plateau is 0.7 * 0.4 km. 10 sinkholes were found on the plateau confined to two parallel tectonic faults, curving at a distance of 50 m from each other. The diameter of the sinkholes figures 10 to 20 m. The deepest is 3-4 m.
The plateau was detected by geologists using a helicopter, before reported by local shepherds. In 1989, a group of five Kyrgyz speleologists climbed on the plateau with a view to exploring the plateau and attempting to enter the cave system.
It turned out, that all the sinkholes were covered with detrital stones. For three days they tried to dig a passage into the system at the bottom of one promising sinkhole. But, using the tools at hand consisting of a shovel and a rope, they hardly could go deeper than 1 m. It was impossible to lift up large boulders from the bottom of the sinkhole. Their work capacity was affected by high altitude, discharged air, and lack of acclimatization. At night, the air temperature on the plateau fell to 0 Со, in the daytime reached 25 Co.
The small expedition team wasn’t specialized in excavating works. So after three days they left the plateau, cherishing hope to return. Since the USSR collapse, none of the cavers visited the plateau again.
We estimate that the depth of excavation to clear the passage to the cave system takes no more than 2 m. To make any passage into the underground cavity needed a team of 8-10 strong people and about 10 work days.
Equipment delivery to the plateau may take 2 days. On the first day, the group must reach the valley of Kyzyl-Unkur River, which means “Red Cave”. On the second day, with the use of local horses, the equipment and tools are to be delivered to the plateau.
Drinkable water on the plateau is available until July, then water can be extracted from surrounding unmelted snow. There is no vegetation other than grass on the plateau.
The plateau rises above the neighboring river valley by more than 1500 m. The plateau is composed of limestone of Silurian-Devonian age (S2-D1). The thickness of limestone stratum is about 1000 m. Thus, if there is a cave system under the Kumysh plateau, it will have a depth of not more than 1000 m.
The most favorable time for the expedition is June. The location of the Kumysh plateau can be checked on a map at the following coordinates: 41°30’21.51″С, 73° 6’34.63″В.
Except digging sinkholes on the plateau, we also plan to search for new caves in its vicinity and on the southwestern slopes of the Ferghana Range, i.e. below the Kumysh plateau. Locals are willing to tell us about the caves in the Kuraves river basin, where allegedly hidden treasure. Local hunters keep in secret whereabouts of caves.
The southwestern slopes of the Ferghana Range are excellent places for setting up of a base camp, plenty of potable water and relicts of walnut tree forests. There are several caves up to 200 m long.
We invite all interested cavers to take part in the search for new karst caves in one of the most interesting mountain ranges of the Tien-Shan. Everyone can take part in the expedition. The gathering of participants should take place in the capital of Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek. If necessary our organization will provide all participants with visa support to enter the country. Our vehicle will meet the participants at the airport and deliver them to the hotel. Transport vehicles used in the expeditions – mini-bus Mercedes Sprinter, and military off-road car to cross rough terrains.
We provide all participants with base camps ensuring comfortable conditions for residence and working. Good tents and good meal. Our chef will cook for the participants excellent three meals a day. The chef is responsible for food quality, cleanliness in a kitchen, fresh food and prepare field lunches when radial expeditions.
For the expedition, we plan to rent horses that will deliver our loads to the Kumysh plateau. If it is expedient in the research process it will be possible to relocate the base camp.
Tasks and goals:
- Exploring sinkholes on the Kymysh plateau.
2. Search and exploration of new caves
3. Reconnaissance of surroundings of the Kuraves River Valley;
4. Search and research of sinkholes on the plateau.
5. Geological exploration
6. Hydrogeological studies
7. Speleo-biological studies
Expedition route, location of the karst region