Ice Climbing and Caving in Naryn

Naryn Travel Blog

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Near climbing site with all the climbing pro

Hey everyone,

I’m still alive, serving my father, and having a remarkable time here in the gorgeous mountainous country of Kyrgyzstan.  Despite the fact I have not been physically well for a single day since my last update letter, I am learning to rely on the strength of the one inside me when I feel like falling to the spirit of apathy lingering here in Naryn.  I have been through agonizing headaches, stomach aches, colds, flu, congestion, a constant lack of energy, and have been dealing with a deep and annoying cough for the last week; yet I press onward for the sake of building relationships with His people here.  Our whole team has been dealing with illness since we’ve been here; I just seem to get what everyone had a week earlier and four times worse.

Teaching figure eight knot
  We know it is much more than just weak immune systems to new viruses here; battles are being fought in the unseen world against these attacks against our team.  Join us with your hands together to fight these attacks from the enemy.

Instead of falling into the enemy’s trap of apathy and laziness that comes with physical ailment, I am continuing to invite Kyrgyz ice climbing and am having a great time.  After quite a while staying indoors beside ice climbing days, however, I was itching to escape into the outdoors and have an adventure.  Before I knew it, I was preparing to go on a wild goose chase for a long-lost mysterious cave with Dave Fairley, the director of Y Bishop. 

It began in the early hours of morning trying to get a few Kyrgyz kids who supposedly knew where this cave was.

Yea, I fell here
  After dragging a few of them out of bed, we were on our way with caving clothes, plenty of headlamps, measuring devices, ropes, helmets, snow shoes, and ice axes.  We were geared up to rummage around for a cave in the vast surrounding mountains of Naryn.  Unfortunately, we never found the cave, but that didn’t stop us from having a crazy escapade.  I could write pages about the extreme events that happened but I’ll try to sum it up in a few sentences: I’ll just say during the majority of the trip, any one slip could have resulted in a precarious slide down the hard packed snow and off a 20 foot-or-greater cliff! I’ll also just say my ice axe saved me on more than one occasion.  In addition to the treacherous climbing, two of the Kyrgyz with us decided just to take off and look for the cave by themselves.
My YWAM team with many new Kyrgyz friends
  After a two-hour rescue trip finding them, we began our descent down a different ravine.  Oh, did I mention the water in my nalgene bottle froze solid in the middle of the afternoon? Did I mention the sun disappeared behind the mountain by the time we began our descent and the temperature continued to drop?  Sliding down the sheer slope with my headlamp on and an ice axe in hand, I flew past rocks and trees like a bat out of hell…until I heard screaming ahead, “STOP!” I flipped around and swung my ice axe into the snow…crack…it popped loose and my rate of speed was unobstructed!  Fortunately I was able to take another swing, and the tip stuck just as I looked below at a 20-foot vertical cliff.  Dave set up a simple body belay, and we were all safely lowered past the rock face.  Another hour passed as we continued the descent, the stars vividly lit the sky, and the voyage came to an end with a three kilometer walk back into town; backs, necks, shoulders, feet, and bottoms turning black and blue from the pain and below zero cold.
Flying! Actually hooked up to a belay station behind me

What made it even more memorable was waking up the next morning at 7:30 to take an M family and their kids ice climbing all day.  Oh, the pain in every muscle as I belayed seven people, much less the agitated coughing from the previous day.  Nonetheless, it’s all for His glory, loving Him, and in doing so, loving His people by building relationships.  Keep your hands together for my physical health and strength, a continued willing heart to serve, and that He would perform miraculous changes in the people here in Naryn through me.

I have attached a bonus of compressed pictures for you in the other document.  I hope it gets through with the unreliable dialup connection here.

Still gladly and blissfully serving the higher purpose in life,

Zach Hooley in Naryn, Kyrgyzstan

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Near climbing site with all the cl…
Near climbing site with all the c…
Teaching figure eight knot
Teaching figure eight knot
Yea, I fell here
Yea, I fell here
My YWAM team with many new Kyrgyz …
My YWAM team with many new Kyrgyz…
Flying! Actually hooked up to a be…
Flying! Actually hooked up to a b…
Professional alpinist: ME
Professional alpinist: ME
thats me
that's me
photo by: Biedjee