RYAN KOUPAL

FOUNDER & DIRECTOR/TAIL GUIDE (KYRGYZSTAN, SVALBARD, GEORGIA, KAMCHATKA)

FROM: COLORADO, USA

Having spent the last 9 winters on the ground in Kyrgyzstan, Ryan has a unique first-hand perspective on Central Asia and the potential for sustainable tourism development in the region. Ryan first encountered the Tien Shan Mountains in 1999, living with nomadic families in yurts near the China/Kyrgyzstan border as a student on an intercultural studies course with Where There Be Dragons. After graduating with a degree in Mandarin Chinese from Vermont’s Middlebury College in 2003, he went on to lead courses for Dragons in China and Tibet. He eventually joined the Dragons office staff as Executive Program Director (2006-09), during which time he traveled extensively, deepening his interest in the mountains and mountain cultures of Asia. Inspired to combine his passion for splitboarding with his passion for travel, Ryan designed and carried out 2 separate winter expeditions with friends – first to Tibet in the winter of 2006-07 and then to Kyrgyzstan in the winter of 2008-09. In Kyrgyzstan, Ryan found the perfect mixture of local enthusiasm for tourism development, native resources, and endless backcountry potential, thus inspiring him to found 40 Tribes in 2010. Ryan currently calls Colorado USA home, but is stoked to be able to spend a few months each winter living at the Jalpak Tash Yurts while managing operations. For our 2018 season, Ryan will tail guide WKS 1-3 in Kyrgyzstan and also our Kamchatka and Svalbard expeditions.