From Kirgistan With Love

In March 2014 the charity Cappuccino Club embarked on a 6000km trip, from Innsbruck to Kirgistan...

...to visit partners and film a documentary about this developing country, on the border to China. As well as their camera equipment the crew took their snowboards.

Sitting together drinking cups of cappuccino in 2008, a handful of snowboarders from Innsbruck came up with the idea of founding a snowboard club with a difference: its aim to help people living in poorer countries. Since its was started the Cappuccino Club has organized several charity projects collecting money for different social activities. In 2011 a snowboard calendar brought in more than €17,000, of which 100% went into micro projects in Kirgistan. Völkl Snowboards has supported the calendar from the beginning and was happy to hear that the club was planning to film a documentary and visit their partners last winter.


Alois, one of the founders of the Cappuccino Club, has been working for a charity organization in Kirgistan for the last two years and was accompanying the small group from Innsbruck on its trip, which led them from the capital Bishkek to the snowy mountains that cover almost 94% of the country. The first stop was Suusamyr, a pass 3300meter above sea level, surrounded by a sparse and surreal landscape of snow. "Snow scientists would have been stoked to see this natural spectacle", filmer Niki Waltl recalls. "The strong wind was literally shooting fresh snow continuously through the whole valley, blowing it off the ridges and creating surreal patterns in the landscape." Despite the difficult snow conditions the group got out their splitboards and scored untracked powder fields and a unique panoramic view over endless mountain ranges.



After a week of fun shreds in the resort of Too-Ashu, and a few kicker sessions with the locals, they had to return to civilization as they had scheduled interviews and meetings with local charity organizations. On their way back into town they were passing a field where locals were competing in a polo tournament and could hardly believe what they saw: instead of a ball the two equestrian teams were trying to knock a headless goat into the opposing goal! Different strokes for different folks...


But there were not only cultural differences between the visitors and visited. In the city of Karakol, in the Eastern part of the country, poverty was omnipresent. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union there had been little progress. “This city has its very own charm though", says Cappuccino Club's Hannes Fritzer. "Surrounded by giant mountains and criss-crossed by large streets you feel a certain kind of Soviet nostalgia. It's almost like Cuba, with its beautiful old buildings but totally fucked up. Everywhere is in need of money there."


Despite its poverty and sparse landscape Kirgistan is a stunningly beautiful country, with extremely lovely and hospitable people. After two incredible weeks in this different world it was time to leave: "It will definitely take some time to handle all these impressions. Tomorrow we fly back to our First World that we will now view with different eyes. Traveling educates; that's what we have learnt from this trip", said Hannes Fritzer before their return to Innsbruck, where the Cappuccino Club is already working on their next project, a Charity Banked Slalom...

Population: 6 million
Capital: Bishkek (around 875.000 inhabitants)
Resorts: Orlovka (90 kilometers from Bishkek), Karakol (400 kilometers from Bishkek), Too-Ashu (130 kilometers from Bishkek)
Season: November through to April
Flights: From €400 Euro (Munich – Istanbul – Bishkek)
Location: Innsbruck (AUT)
Members: 65 (from Austria, Germany and Switzerland)
Mission: "Snowboarding is our passion, our driving force and our equilibrium. We know that this sport and lifestyle is a privilege. Therefore we try to tie our skills into helping those that are not so lucky."
Projects: Charity Calendar, Charity Banked Slalom Kühtai, Charity Cards and many more
Website: www.cappuccino-club.org



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