The southwestern slopes of the Fergana Range have always been and remain mysterious for speleologists. These limestone slopes of the ridge, overgrown with forest and bushes, hide caves. There are many springs on the slopes. In the Tien-Shan, these places are the most humid. The largest amount of atmospheric precipitation falls here – about 900-1000 mm per year.
Locals have long been telling about the caves they saw in different gorges. Our goal in 2021 is to explore some of the karst areas accessible by car and horses. One of the karst plateau Kumysh, located at a high altitude.
The Kumysh plateau is located on the Fergana ridge, 15 km west of Karasu Lake. For the first time the plateau was discovered by speleologists in 1989. The plateau height is more than 3100 m. The plateau size is 0.7 * 0.4 km. On the plateau, 10 karst sinkholes were discovered, confined to two parallel tectonic faults, formed at a distance of 50 m from each other. The diameter of the sinkholes is from 10 to 20 m, the maximum depth is up to 3-4 m.
The plateau was discovered by geologists from a helicopter and was reported by local shepherds. In 1989, a group of five Kyrgyz cavers climbed the Kumysh plateau to explore the plateau and try to penetrate the cave system.
As a result, all the sinkholes were covered with detrital stone material. For three days we tried to dig a passage to the underground system at the bottom of one of the most promising, in our opinion, karst sinkholes. But, with the help of the improvised equipment that we had at our disposal in the form of a shovel and a rope, we could not go deeper even 1 m. Large boulders that had to be taken out from the bottom of the sinkhole could not be lifted up. Our ability to work was affected by the height and thin air, and of course the lack of acclimatization. At night, the air temperature on the high-mountain plateau is about 0 C, in the daytime about 25 C.
At that time, the tasks of our small expedition did not include digging out passages at the bottom of the craters. Therefore, after three days we left the plateau in the hope of returning. After the collapse of the USSR, none of the cavers visited the Kumysh plateau.
In our opinion, to open the passage to the cave system is no more than 1-2 m. To release any passage into the underground cavity, a strong team of 8-10 people is needed and about 5-7 days of work.
It may take 2 days for the equipment to reach the plateau. On the first day, the group should get to the Kyzyl-Unkur valley, which means “Red Cave”. On the second day, using local horses, it is necessary to deliver the cargo to the plateau.
Drinking water on the plateau is present only until July, then water can be obtained from the snowfields that have not yet melted. Any vegetation other than grass is absent on the plateau.
The plateau rises above the neighboring river valley by more than 1500 m. The plateau is composed of Silurian-Devonian limestones (S2-D1). The thickness of the limestone strata is about 1000 m.Thus, if, nevertheless, a cave system exists under the Kumysh plateau, then it will represent a depth of no more than 1000 m.
The most favorable time for the expedition is June. The location of the Kumysh plateau can be viewed at the following coordinates: 41 ° 30’22.25 “N 73 ° 6’35.53” E
In addition to excavating craters on the Kumysh plateau, we also plan to search for new caves in its vicinity and on the southwestern slopes of the Fergana ridge, i.e. below the Kumysh plateau. Local residents are ready to tell us about the caves in the Kuraves river basin, in which a treasure is supposedly hidden. Local hunters keep the coordinates of the location of some caves in secret.
The southwestern slopes of the Fergana Range are excellent places for a base camp, a lot of water and relict walnut forests. There are several caves with a length of up to 200 m. In some of them, perennial ice was discovered, as well as the remains of long-extinct ancient animals.
We invite all interested speleologists to take part in the search for new karst caves in one of the most interesting mountain ranges of the Tien-Shan. Anyone can take part in the expedition. The meeting of the expedition members is to take place in the capital of Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek. Our organization will provide all participants with visa support if it is necessary to enter the country. Our car will meet you at the airport and take you to the hotel. Expedition transport – mini buses Mercedes Sprinter, as well as a military off-road vehicle to overcome difficult sections.
We will provide all members of the expedition with good double tents “RedFox”, as well as provide comfortable conditions for living and working in the base camp. Our chef will provide all participants with excellent three meals a day. The chef is responsible for food quality, kitchen cleanliness, fresh produce, and provides field meals at radial exits.
For the expedition, we must rent horses that will deliver our cargo to the Kumysh plateau. During the expedition, we plan to relocate the base camp, if it is required during the research process.
Goals and objectives:
– Exploration of sinkholes on the Kumysh plateau;
– Explore the nearby famous caves spoken about by the locals;
– Search and exploration of new caves;
– Exploration of the vicinity of the Kuraves river valley;
– Geological research
– Hydrogeological research
– Speleo-biological research
Expedition route, location of the karst region