VIDEOS: Scottish Wakhan Expedition 2010by Alan Halewood Oct/2010
This article has been read 8,091 times
The pair planned their five week trip inspired by a simple Japanese map that Alan bought second hand from a climbing shop in Glasgow twenty years ago.
Around seventy western travellers (mostly trekkers but also Suzy Madge's ski mountaineering trip and a large Polish mountaineering expedition) have visited the region this summer but Alan and Neal were the first mountaineers to access the interior of this particular mountain range south of the Oxus and west of the Waghjir Valley.
They accessed the region from Tajikistan via the town of Ishkashim. After a day buying supplies and arranging permits they made the two day trip by 4wd to Sarhad e Boroghil at the end of the road with their vehicles becoming stuck in recent mudlsides and deep rivers on more than one occasion. Then, following an eight day approach on foot in unusually wet conditions (their pack horses were often unloaded and the climbers forced to ferry their own loads up steep muddy slopes), they left their horsemen in the valley to establish a high camp.
Climbing initially on a narrow 'Cuillin like' ridge they were soon forced down onto a glacier by some of the loosest rock they have ever had the misfortune to climb on. From here the pair made their way to a high col and Alan continued alone to the summit of Koh e Iskander 5561m (pitch of Scottish III on loose rock), named both for Alexander the Great whose armies passed nearby in 326bc and Alan's two year-old son Sandy. After a careful descent over avalanche prone slopes the pair returned to their camp after a twelve hour day.
Time lost on the approach meant they had to leave the area almost immediately, but on the way out they did manage another ascent. Whilst crossing the Uween e Sar/Garmudee Pass (over 4800m) they took the opportunity to climb onto the ridge forming the north side of the pass. The granitodiorite here was more solid and the pair made a long traverse to a pair of twin summit towers climbing Koh- e Khar (Peak of the Donkey, 5327m, again Scottish III mixed and loose rock) before a 1000m descent straight to the valley floor reunited them with their horsemen at nightfall.
Returning to Sarhad e Boroghil the usual roadhead they found that the roads were washed away. The nearest a vehicle could get to them was 80km away so they hired more horses and rode for two long days to reach their 4wd.
A local agency called Wakhan Tourism exists to help visitors secure permits, interpreters (some local guides have undergone training with Italian alpine Guides in recent years) and vehicles.
The security situation east of Ishkashem has remained stable this year with no security threats to the many westerners visiting the area. This could, however, mean that next season the area provides a tempting 'soft' target for insurgent or criminal gangs so it is important to get local advice before visiting the area. Alan and Neal met with nothing but kindness, respect and incredible hospitality on their trip this year. The pair report enormous potential for first ascents at a wide range of technical difficulty in the area east of Sarhad.
VIDEOS: Scottish Wakhan Expedition 2010
Help with mountain training for Afghan guides: Mountain Unity UKC Forum Thread
Alan Halewood is an MIC working in Scotland: Climb When You're Ready
For those looking for a winter mountaineering fix, the Moroccan High Atlas range offers a very different experience compared with... Read more
The Dolomites boast one of the largest pisted ski areas in Europe: The 'Sella Ronda' - a circular network of lifts and pistes... Read more
This is the report from a lightweight climbing trip to the Wakhan Corridor in Afghanistan where a technical line on an unclimbed... Read more
Butterflies in your stomach. Summit Fever. Post-fall hissy-fits. Redpointing can be a highly stressful process, reducing even the... Read more
Nothing beats down insulation. Despite decades of synthetic material development we still can't match the stuff that geese and... Read more
28 year-old Tom Dufton is a climber and instructor based in Stoke on Trent. He recently appeared on the BBC programme Employable... Read more
|FS: Mountaineering gear for sale 16:00 Mon|
|Fantastic deals on Alpine... Jun-16|
|The Mountaineering Handbook Jun-16|
|Alpine mountaineering: top tips? Jun-16|
|Alps Mountaineering Summer 2016 May-16|
|Western Mountaineering May-16|
|Advice on stretching toe box of... May-16|
|Ski mountaineering in Iran May-16|
|List more discussions...|