Circling the ‘Golden Mountains’ By Bike and Ski

Expedition to explore and document this pristine region of Central Asia

The Altai Mountains rise in the background.

At the northern edge of the vast basins of Central Asia rises the last of the great mountain complexes radiating northeast from the subcontinent: the Altai, or "Golden Mountains."

This range lies in the heart of Asia, at the junction of steppe, desert, and taiga, and constitutes one of the most pristine montane (i.e. mountainous) ecosystems on Earth. Alexander B. “Zand” Martin, 27, of Kensington, Conn., and his three-person team plan to tell the story of this trans-boundary region as they follow the people and landscape of the Altai by ski, foot, and bicycle this winter and spring.

Martin was named one of Outside Magazine’s “New Kings of Adventure” in 2011 for his inland canoe traverse of the United States. (There were some major portages.)

The Circling the Golden Mountains project is an attempt to circumnavigate the Altai Mountains on a 2,486-mile (4000 km) route that runs through Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia, and Russia. The team intends to cycle around and through the range in a large counterclockwise direction, carrying skis on their bicycles and executing several dedicated multi-day ski tours in each country, with peak ascents planned along the way.

The project will also include citizen-science initiatives through Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation and support of the work of the World Wildlife Fund Mongolia and WWF Russia. The team is currently seeking additional partnerships, sponsorship, and financial support. Voile and GoLite have provided gear, as the team awaits the results of several grant applications.

For more information contact Zand Martin on his website.