In Summer of 2011, alpinist Kyle Dempster set out across Kyrgyzstan’s back roads on his bike. His goal – ride across the country via old Soviet roads while climbing as many of the region’s impressive peaks as possible. He found an entirely different kind of adventure.
In Summer of 2011, alpinist Kyle Dempster set out across Kyrgyzstan’s back roads on his bike. His goal – ride across the country via old Soviet roads while climbing as many of the region’s impressive peaks as possible. He was alone. He carried only a minimalist’s ration of climbing gear. Ten Kyrgyz words rounded out his vocabulary. Part meditation on true spirit of adventure and part epic travelogue, The Road from Karakol is the story of a unique spirit who pedaled to the road’s end and decided to keep going.
In Summer of 2011, alpinist Kyle Dempster set out across Kyrgyzstan’s back roads on his bike. His goal – ride across the country via old Soviet roads while climbing as many of the region’s impressive peaks as possible. He was alone. He carried only a minimalist’s ration of climbing gear. Ten Kyrgyz words rounded out his vocabulary. He’d purchased his bike just weeks before and had never bike toured.
Upon arrival, Kyle found himself pulled into the Kyrgyz culture – heavy drinking, friendly curiosity and families carving existences out of yurts in the foothill. From his maps, he picked a circuitous path of back roads between the regions incredible mountains. When he arrived, he found that the roads had been abandoned. Crumbling roads led deeper into the heart the Kyrgyz wilderness before disappearing all together. After crossing a few rivers and nearly being swept away in the process, Dempster realized that his path back was blocked. He had to keep, pedaling, pushing and carrying his bike. It meant crossing rivers raging with summer snow melt and navigating game trails.
As his options dwindled, Dempster became more desperate. The camera becomes an outlet. Overwhelmed by his predicament home, he narrates a letter home telling his family he loves them. He executes one final river crossing before reconnecting with civilization and its roads.
Part meditation on true spirit of adventure and part epic travelogue, The Road from Karakol is the story of a unique spirit who pedaled to the road’s end and decided to keep going.
DIRECTOR: Fitz Cahall
FILMING: Kyle Dempster
NARRATION: Kyle Dempster
EDIT: Austin Siadak
ADDITIONAL EDIT: Nasa Koski
PRODUCED BY: Duct Tape Then Beer
LENGTH: 25:36 MIN
FORMAT: 1280x720P 29.97 HD Stereo 24/48 Audio 44100hz
TRAILER LINK: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zalrzjmjRjA
The Road from Karakol was never supposed to be a 25-minute film about his six-week trip. It was shot almost entirely on a GoPro and a point-and-shoot camera with video capabilities. After seeing Kyle give a presentation, Christian Folk, athlete coordinator at Seattle based Outdoor Research, which sponsors Kyle, contacted Fitz Cahall about creating a short piece of highlights from the trip that would live on the company’s website and Facebook page. A few weeks later a hard drive arrived at the Duct Tape Then Beer office in Seattle. As the team began sorting through footage, they realized that Kyle had an incredible story – the challenge would be to piece the 25 hours of rough footage into something coherent. It took a year of on and off work.
FROM THE DIRECTOR
When we opened up that hard drive, I fell in love with Kyle as a character. He was funny, passionate and wildly intelligent. A lot of climbing expeditions these days have clear marketing objectives to them. Sometimes, I feel like we’ve lost something, but Kyle’s story was real. His approach was novel. To most veteran climbers, it would have been a daunting, almost borderline insane to do a trip in this style.
For me there are two scenes that stood out. When I first saw the opening scene were Kyle is naked standing in a river, I burst into laughter. I thought “This guy gets it. He’s not holding back. He is both literally and metaphorically naked in front of the camera. Awesome.” His letter home to his parents, sister and girlfriend left me in tears. Those were the two moments that I knew we had to work between. This was the light and the dark of adventure. It takes a rare kind of spirit to capture it so unflinchingly. Kudos to Kyle.
Out of all the projects I’ve worked on, this was the most difficult to piece together. There were a few glaring gaps we had to fill. The first breakthrough came when our editor Austin Siadak brought up Robert Frost’s immortal poem “The Road Not Taken.” That poem provided a sort ground work for our thought process. The second breakthrough came when we realized that we could recreate one or two small bits of audio and footage that keep the whole thing tethered together. I won’t say which, but it helped us get through a pivotal scene and help with a few key facts and details.
ABOUT THE DIRECTOR
Fitz Cahall has worked in digital media and film since he made the leap from print in 2006. He owns Duct Tape Then Beer with his partner and wife Becca Cahall. He hosts the popular outdoor radio show and podcast, The Dirtbag Diaries, and has earned awards for his filmmaking. He’s been an avid climber for 17 years.
We use the word suffering way too much. Every adventure has both the light , the dark, the toil ,the reward. To experience that alone is to become absorbed by an activity, by a place , by its people. The wall of daily noise, the modern trappings that define our identities give way. Our mental defenses grow thin. You no longer know where you end and the world begins. We become raw. This is why we take the trip. That is what we’ve come for.