At first glance the lake is just another glacial lake (Kyrgyzstan is often reffered to as Switzerland in Asia), but there is something which sets Marzbacher apart from other lakes because of what happens twice a year.
Twice a year, with a tremendous earth-shaking roar, a huge glacial lake in the mountainous highlands of Kyrgyzstan empties out completely in a matter of three days.
The reason for this gigantic plug-pulling is taken to be that the icy wall which blocks off the water coming down from the glacier itself melts, creating an opening in the natural dam formed by the glacier. Raging torrents of freezing water explode down the mountains as the entire reservoir of the lake empties itself, only to refill slowly and gradually over the next six months before the event repeats itself...
This is a magnificent spectacle, as the tremendous forces kept in check between water and ice are released suddenly and hundreds of thousands of cubic feet of glacial lake cascade out down the mountainside. The earth quite literally shakes and gigantic icebergs are left stranded on the beaches of the lake.
You need time, though: weeks can pass before the event manifests itself and you only have a very narrow window of opportunity in which to see it. Predictions are made difficult by the fact that the mechanism of the event is poorly understood, as well as by the remoteness of the lake.
Marzbacher's lake was discovered in 1903 by the noted German explorer of the same name, who organised an expedition to conquer the nearby Khan Tengri peak (6,995 metres). Imagine the expedition's surprise, when having camped on the shores of this peaceful glacial lake (in which entire icebergs float around undisturbed) the day came when in a sudden explosion of activity the entire body of water emptied itself like a giant sub-zero natural bathtub.
The next expedition to reach the area, some 25 years later, witnessed and recorded the same dramatic phenomenon, in the following words:
"The end of Inylchek Glacier was somewhat extraordinary with water springing up in different locations making terrible noises. Some of them ran down the Glacier slopes, while others gushed forth from deep cracks in the Glacier surface. Our horses were so frightened by the great roar and Glacier pulsation that we hardly managed to get them down the slope. There was a moment when the Glacier seemed to be at the point of breaking away and rushing downward, destroying everything in its way!"
After doing some further research on this lake and area, it is noted that the second expedition returned the following year and were totally surprised to see that the lake had been refilled.
This unique event happens twice a year - once in winter and again in August. Because the time when it empties isn't known it would be quite difficult to plan a trip to the area to this event, but I guess that it is only a 24 hour trip away from Moscow (once you hear the event has started).
This is what the lake looks like when full and empty:
I made some enquiries about how to get there, and because it is so remote, the most time effective option is by helicopter, and to charter a Mi-8 for an hour (without fuel) would cost only US$500-600.
Anyone wanna come? Ben maybe?