In 2011, Kyle Dempster, one of the world’s most accomplished high-alpine climbers and winner of the 2009 Piolet d’Or, flew to Kyrgyzstan with a different objective in mind: explore the country and its alpine peaks via a used mountain bike and BOB trailer full of climbing gear, all by himself.
For two months, he pedaled the bike, pushed the bike, and carried it across rushing rivers, watching the abandoned Soviet-era roads on his maps slowly disappear and eventually peter out into dirt paths, or nothing. Instead of spending his summer at a base camp in Pakistan or the Karakoram, he met Kyrgyz families, corrupt (and occasionally intoxicated) military checkpoint personnel, and sometimes no one at all. Dempster, possessing only 10 words of Kyrgyz, recorded it all, his video camera at times becoming his only friend and confidant.
“That camera, in a way, became like Wilson,” Kyle says, referring to Tom Hanks’ anthropomoprhized volleyball in the film Cast Away. He survived the trip – it was his first-ever bike tour – notching a couple first ascents on Kyrgyz peaks, and pedaled across western China and into Pakistan to meet Hayden Kennedy and make the first ascent of 6,300-meter Hassan Peak.
In early 2013, Kyle’s self-shot footage of his journey in Kyrgyzstan made it to the desk at Fitz Cahall’s Duct Tape Then Beer, who turned it into the 25-minute film The Road From Karakol. The filmmakers were challenged with making a movie out of self-shot footage and trying to weave together a story from it, and Cahall said at the film’s premiere that it almost didn’t get made – but in the end, he said, “It’s not worth worrying about the things you don’t have. You can only concern yourself with the pieces you’ve been given.”
The Road From Karakol made its debut at the 5Point Film Festival in April and took home the Best In Fest award. The complete film will be released Tuesday, June 25th. To learn more about the film, visit http://www.theroadfromkarakol.com.