Colorado ski tour outfitter takes winter sports enthusiasts on trips around the world

A Kyrgyz father and son that practice traditional cultural customs, including hunting with eagles and

A Kyrgyz father and son that practice traditional cultural customs, including hunting with eagles and falcons.
Matt Appleford/The Adventure Project

Matt Appleford, the founder of The Adventure Project, lives in Granby but spends plenty of time traveling around the world. His company takes skiers and snowboarders to places like Japan, India, Georgia and Chile in search of powder.

In March, Appleford went on a trip without any clients — a recon trip, as he described it in a forum post — to Kyrgyzstan. The owner of Ryce Travel, a Dutch-based adventure travel agency, invited Appleford to go on their Kyrgyzstan trip that they plan to offer to Western markets next year.

Appleford wrote in an email that he was excited to explore more former Soviet countries after a trip to Uzbekistan in 2022, so the invitation came at a great time. He had a great time and plans on offering a trip to Kyrgyzstan in 2025.

“I would run it next winter but we already had plans for Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan in February, so we didn’t have room in 2024,” Appleford wrote.

Once a lodge expansion in one of the mountain towns is completed, Appleford said they will be able to accommodate larger groups, and he wants to put the Kyrgyzstan program at the end of February, right after a Turkey program.

This year’s trip took Appleford to Istanbul, Turkey, for a 36-hour layover; Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan; the mountain towns of Karakol and Jyrgalen in Kyrgyzstan; and a few other sightseeing locations along the way. 

Going in March, Appleford missed the country’s peak snow season — he wrote that Lake Issyk Kul produces cold, dry, lake-effect powder earlier in the year. The cultural experience provided memories he described as life-changing, though.

One highlight came late in the trip, as the group traveled from Karakol back to Bishkek. They stopped near Lake Issyk Kul to meet a father and son that are working to keep Kyrgyz cultural customs alive as more people move from rural to urban areas. 

The duo put on a few demonstrations, including horse riding, stationary archery and horseback archery before moving on to their hunting birds. Appleford wrote that they have two golden eagles and a falcon that they trained to hunt foxes, jackals and wolves.

“The birds are well-looked after and clearly a very important part of their culture and livelihood,” Appleford wrote. “The hospitality of the family was exceptional, we were made to feel very welcome and it was a very genuine experience. This was one of the most memorable experiences I have ever had.”

The Adventure Project’s next trip will take skiers and boarders to Nevados de Chillan in Chile in early August. The 2024 winter programs will include Hokkaido and Tohoku in Japan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, North Macedonia, India and the Republic of Georgia. Find more information and sign up for trips at

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