I came home after completing my epic 6-day trek from Jeti Oguz to Altyn Arashan very exhausted and depleted of energy. That night, I thought I would never torture my body and soul with such strenuous physical loads. I spent the following days resting and recovering. 

It didn't take a lot of time for me to get bored again. The comfort of my flat was making my existence useless and boring. I decided that I needed to have another journey in Kyrgyzstan. At the same time, I wanted my next travel destination to be close to Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan. 

I started giving Google the following search queries "Best hiking and trekking trails near Bishkek", "Hiking and trekking near Bishkek", etc. There were hundreds of different Western blogs filled with information regarding the best places where I could hike and trek near my city. 

After reading a couple of blogs, I realized that Ala-Archa National Park was probably the best place to hike and trek. The park is situated only 35 km from Bishkek. I looked for hiking and trekking trails in Ala-Archa National Park and quickly understood that the most popular route was from the park entrance to Ak-Sai waterfall. This was the trail used by the majority of park visitors. 

There was also a more challenging route. This trail would lead me further towards Ratsek Hut, a camp and a base point from which local and international alpinists ascended and descended nearby peaks. The route was long and challenging. This is why softcore travelers, tourists, and day hikers preferred going no further than Ak Sai waterfall. 

There was also the third and the most challenging option I could choose. I could hike until Ratsek Hut and then climb Uchitel Peak (4545 meters). As a person who loves and accepts challenges, I decided to select the third option. 

After gathering all the relevant information, I was determined to conquer the summit of Uchitel Peak. I read a lot of blog posts about Uchitel Peak. Also, international trekkers in Karakol told me a lot about Uchitel Peak. Mainly, they told me that the mountain wasn't technically difficult and I could climb it without any professional alpinists equipment. Thus, this peak was an ideal choice for someone who doesn't want to travel further than Bishkek. The technical easiness of the mountain was another seductive advantage of Uchitel Peak. 


This is my personal story and this article doesn't encourage anyone to climb Peak Uchitel without a guided tour. Just a day after my ascent to Peak Uchitel, a Russian tourist died while ascending Uchitel Peak with his friend. While climbing down, the couple chose a short but a very dangerous route, and thus, put themselves in extreme danger. One of the climbers fell down and died. The second man was injured. 

Rescuers carrying a dead body of an amateur climber

Local rescue team carrying dead body of the Russian tourist. Never attempt climbing to Peak Uchitel without a guided tour.

Booking a professional guided tour on Peak Uchitel is a wise decision if you value your life and health. The "On the Top of Peak Uchitel" guided tour to Peak Uchitel will provide you with all the essentials required for a safe and successfuly ascent and descent to/from Peak Uchitel. Contact me and reserve your place in the upcoming tour. 

Climbing Uchitel Peak in Ala Archa tour


There is bus number 265 at the intersection of Torkrogula and Beishenalieva streets near Osh Bazar. The 265 bus goes until the Kashka Suu village. From Kashka Suu, there is 12 km to the Ala-Archa National Park. 

I used the bus to get to Kashka Suu village. Further, there was no way to get to Ala-Archa National Park. Hitchhiking was the only option, and I successfully hitchhiked to my destination point on a minibus. The minibus driver was working with foreign tourists and he came to the park to get a team of tourists. I was lucky to be at the right time at the right place. 


The weather was stunning. It was sunny and not hot – a very rare combination that can happen only in mountains. I entered the park and saw an intersection of several trails. The trail to the left would get me to Ak-Sai waterfall. This is where I wanted to get at the start of my hike. 

Hiking towards Ak Sai waterfallHiking toward Ak Sai waterfall. The trail is very easy

The hike to Ak Sai waterfall was a very easy walk that doesn't demand any hiking experience. A person with an average fitness level can successfully hike to the waterfall. It is not to say that the hiking trail to Ak Sai waterfall is short. It took me more than an hour to hike to the waterfall. 

You will enjoy the nature inside the park

On the way to the waterfall, I met loads of international and foreign hikers. I met three girls from the Philippines who were hiking to Ak Sai waterfall. These girls were with a local guide.

Ala Archa National ParkAla Archa National Park

For them, the hike was very difficult. They were stopping every single second to catch a breath. This is due to the absence of acclimatization. 


After a moderately hard hike, several ascents and descents, I finally reached Ak Sai waterfall. The waterfall itself isn't big, but it is beautiful. I decided to spend some time near the waterfall. It is one of the biggest highlights and tourist attractions in Ala-Archa National Park, and therefore, spending some time in its proximity is an absolute must. 

Ak Sai waterfall

Finally, I am at Ak Sai waterfall. It is small, but very beautiful

I prepared a cup of coffee with my mini stove, took some good photos, snapped selfies, and relaxed near the waterfall. Other tourists were also taking photos and eating near the Ak-Sai waterfall.


Hiking from the waterfall to Ratsek Hut was a bigger challenge. Whilst the trail from the park entrance to Ak-Sai waterfall was a combination of light ascents and descents, the hike to Ratsek Hut can be described as constant elevation gain. The trail is steep. Sometimes, I had to walk through boulders. 

Hiking from Ak Sai waterfall to Ratsek HutHiking from Ak Sai waterfall to Ratsek Hut

While hiking from Ak-Sai waterfall to Ratsek hut, I was enjoying the view of some of the most beautiful landscapes in the park. The sky was blue and there were no signs of upcoming rain. 

Hiking to Ratcek Hut to climb Uchitel PeakHiking to Ratcek Hut to climb Uchitel Peak

On the way to Ratsek hut, I met loads of professional alpinists. Most of them were descending from the Ratsek station. I asked each of them about the difficulty of ascent Uchitel Peak. For most of them, climbing Uchitel Peak was similar to a walk on broadway. At the same time, one of the alpinists warned me that I would have to go through unstable and dangerous boulders on my way to the summit. At that moment, this warning didn't sound that serious. Further, near the summit of Uchitel Peak, I would remind myself of his warning. 


At Ratsek HutFinally, after approximately two hours of vigorous hiking up, I arrived at Ratsek Hut. The Ratsek Station is nothing but a privatized and monopolized land in the mountains. The Ratsek Station is owned by one of Kyrgyzstan's monopolist travel agencies Ak-Sai travel. I saw logotypes of this company in Karakol, Jeti Oguz valley, Ala Kul lake, at the entrance to Ala-Archa park, Ratsek Hut, and in many other places. The company surely has very good connections with some members of the Kyrgyz government. 

Alpinists preparing to climb nearby mountainsAlpinists preparing to climb nearby mountains

At Ratsek Hut, I saw dozens of tents pitched everywhere. Alpinists and hikers from all over the world were preparing for their upcoming adventures at summits of some of the highest peaks in Ala Archa National Park. 


On the Internet, I have read that pitching a tent in the territory of Ak-Sai travel camp was paid. During my previous 6-day trek in Karakol, I didn't pay even a single cent for pitching my tent in various places. This is my principle. Nature belongs to people, and no private organization has a right to monopolize land and demand money for pitching tents in mountains. 

When I arrived at Ratsek Hut, I asked its inhabitants about a fee for pitching a tent there. They said that the fee was like 60 soms (something like 0.4 USD). Yes, this fee is miserable. However, I was determined not to pay anything for pitching my tent. If necessary, I would get out of the Ratsek Hut and build my camp somewhere else. 


The administration of Ratsek Hut sits in a place called "Bar". There, they sell tea, biscuits, and food, and receive fees from travelers. I entered the bar and asked a Russian man about the fee for pitching a tent. He confirmed that the camp was not free for local and international travelers. Then I asked the man about the borders of their camp. He answered that the end of their camp was beyond the last two buildings situated one hundred meters further. 


I found the point where the Ratsek Station ended, and pitched my tent outside the camp. This was a gesture motivated by my protest against a private company monopolizing and privatizing lands in most strategic tourist places. I would do the same thing anywhere around the world. 

Principally pitched my tent outside the camp zone as a gesture of independence and self-sufficiency I try to achieve while hiking in the wild

I would pay a fee for a designated urban camping spot. But nature belongs to people. Nobody has a right to grab lands and demand money from travelers for pitching their tents. 

The night was cold. Ratsek Hut is situated at the height of 3400 meters above sea level. It wasn't surprising why it wasn't hot there. Unfortunately, I forgot my warm socks at home. I had to sleep bare feet under my sleeping bag because my current socks were wet because of sweat. 


Before coming to Ala Archa National Park, I gathered some information regarding Uchitel Peak. I read that loads of alpinists started ascending nearby peaks early in the morning before sunrise. I had no idea why they did that. Later, at Ratsek Hut, one experienced alpinist told me that early-morning ascents are good because the rain usually started after midday. By starting climbing early in the morning, alpinists can avoid bad weather which is the worst enemy of alpinists. 

It was too cold to wake up and start climbing at 6 am. Thus, I decided to stay in my tent as long as I wished. At 9 am the sun started warming my tent. I got out of my sleeping bag and started packing my tent. After thirty minutes, I was already on my way up to Uchitel Peak. 

While climbing up, I was absolutely alone. At the start, the trail was normal and it was easy to navigate the way. Further, the road got messed with boulders. Several times I started moving in the wrong direction. Luckily, My saved me from wasting too much time and energy. 

The sky was completely clear in the morning. While getting closer to the summit, I recognized a pack of clouds rising from the valley. This was a dangerous sign. There is nothing worse than heavy rain on a peak of a high mountain. The situation can get pretty dangerous. I experienced a severe icefall on the peak of the Ala Kul pass, and the feeling was terrible. 


Even though Uchitel Peak is considered a technically easy mountain, the path to the summit is very complicated. You have to step on huge boulders which are very unstable. At one point, I mildly injured my foot with a huge stone. 

At such a high altitude, climbing up gets very difficult with every step. After five or ten steps up, I would stop to rest. At a higher altitude, the trail to the summit got almost impassable. I had to fully rely upon my trekking poles and load my shoulders to continue the climb. 


Partly, I wanted to reach Uchitel Peak because I wanted to understand and feel AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness). Uchitel Peak taught me a lesson – "Never climb a high mountain without proper acclimatization." After a few hours of climbing the peak, I felt nauseous. I even had a thought to turn back. It felt terrible. 

At some intervals, I had to stop, catch my breath and take a few minutes of rest. My heart was beating abnormally fast. Climbing up Uchitel Peak didn't resemble any other strenuous physical exercises I had done in my life. 


ProBacker climbing the high peakThe last hundreds of meters to the summit were the most difficult. Breathing gets harder and harder with each step. The boulders are too unstable to be uncareful. One wrong move and you can fall. If you are climbing up alone, there is nobody to help you. 

Summit of Uchitel PeakNever climb high mountains alone. In dangerous situation, there won't be anyone to help you

Finally, after several hard hours of climbing up, I was on the summit of Uchitel Peak. This is the highest point I have climbed so far in my life. I wouldn't say that my emotions and feelings were great. It was good to climb the peak and enjoy the wonderful view from such a high elevation. However, exhaustion, AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness), and thoughts regarding the upcoming descent from the peak made me feel worried. 


I made photos and videos of the peak of the mountain. I also took loads of selfies. The selfies weren't good because my face expressed clear signs of AMS. At the peak, I met a couple of local tourists. Together, we decided to climb down to Ratsek Hut.

Surprisingly, climbing down from Uchitel Peak was very easy and enjoyable because we were having interesting conversations on the way down. While talking, I didn't even recognize the difficulty of the descent. 85% of injuries and death in mountains happen during descents. This is why it is very important to be very cautious while climbing down. 


On the way down, we decided to visit a big glacier with a lake that was hidden beyond high hills. You could learn about their existence only if you climbed nearby peaks. There, a panorama view lets you see all the surrounding places. 

Glacier with the lakeGlacier with a lake

The glacier looked impressive. The lake was too cold to swim. I drank its waters through my Survimate bottle that filters even the dirtiest streams. After a couple of cups of coffee, we decided to move to Ratcek Hut. 


My new friends were determined to spend one day more in the national park. I wanted to get home as soon as possible. Therefore, the same day, I started my hike toward the exit from Ala-Archa National Park. The entrance and exit were in the same place. Thus, I had to go back the same way I used to reach Ratsek Hut. 

I started my hike late in the second half of the day. It was darkening when I reached Ak-Sai waterfall. I decided not to continue the hike. Instead, I pitched my tent near the waterfall and tried to catch sleep. 

Even though Ak Sai waterfall is situated at a lower elevation than Ratsek Hut, it was still cold at night. I could get normal sleep. For sure, the night wasn't warm. 


I woke up at 9 am. There was a big crowd of school students near the waterfall. This team has just arrived at the place. I started packing my tent. After 10-15 minutes, I was on my way to the gates of Ala Archa National Park. It took me minimum two-three hours of hiking to get to the exit. 

I hitchhiked from Ala Archa National Park to my Bishkek flat. After taking a shower, I had a good meal. During the trek, I was eating only dates and they gave me a lot of energy and a sense of satiety during the vigorous climb to Uchitel Peak. 


Climbing Uchitel Peak was a very good experience. It got me acquainted with AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness). I also concluded that I should climb high summits only with partners. Solo climbing isn't a good practice in such dangerous environments. Uchitel Peak taught me that acclimatization was an absolute must. Good acclimatization would add more energy during climbing, and also it will prevent side effects of high altitudes. 

I hope that this climb to Uchitel Peak is my gateway to climbing more serious mountains. Hopefully, I will continue my mountain adventures and inform you about them on my blog. 

Written by ProBackpacker
I am an avid backpacker who shares his knowledge and travel tips with the world. Check out my latest journeys, travel guides, and backpacking gear reviews.