I had such a good time climbing in Afghanistan last year that I’ve decided to go back again in July 2012.
Last year I climbed Koh-e-Baba-Tangi (6515m) with my sister Christine, and despite some trepidation on leaving New Zealand, our trip went extremely smoothly. There is a general lack of bureaucracy involved in climbing in Afghanistan- no long meetings with authorities to suffer through; no peak fees or environment bonds to pay; no large rescue deposits to front up with. Central Government has its hand full with more pressing matters, and the occasional foreigner heading into the mountains of the remote north east corner of the country is too trivial for notice.
This year Paul Knott and I intend to try Rahozon-Zom (6535m) which lies on the Pakistan/Afghan border in the Upper Eshan Glacier, about 40km due west of Koh-e-Baba-Tangi. The mountain was climbed in 1969 from the Chitral region of Pakistan but has never had an ascent from Afghanistan. The last time a party was in the Eshan Valley was in 1976, when a team of Poles tried the NE Ridge of Rahozon Zom, retreating after encountering “extreme ice and mixed climbing.” Paul and I would like to try the NE Ridge if it looks a good bet.
In this photo, the NE Ridge is the obviously line dropping from Pt 399 to the glacier.
Apart from a short paragraph by the Poles on their attempt, and this small grainy photo from the expedition, there doesn’t seem to be any information on the mountain. Well….that is if you don’t count Google Earth, which is just too tempting not to look at. This picture shows the NE Ridge, the North Summit and the South(true) summit with actually lies in Pakistan.
Accompanying us will be my friend Maryrose Fowlie, who is a climber of some note, but she only wants to come to basecamp. And also my brother Bill. Bill did a beginner mountaineering course about 25 years ago and was addicted to cragging for a few years. Now he runs the family sheep farm and is an aerial crop dusting pilot and step father to three teenagers. He says, “When people ask me where I went for my holidays this year, I want to say I was in Afghanistan! Not Fiji!”. Bill and Maryrose will cruise around the glacier and up some of the smaller summits and try and get a peek over the divide into Pakistan.
Our itinerary will be much the same as last year: A long haul from New Zealand to Tajikistan via Western China; a day’s shopping in Dushanbe followed by a three day 4WD south to the Afghan border. Another day’s drive up the Wakhan Corridor and, we estimate, three days walk with porters into basecamp. Then we’ll be on our own until the porters return in three weeks time.
I am REALLY looking forward to this trip! Now that I’ve already done Afghanistan once, the organisation seems less of an issue, and the other unknowns ….well! They are no longer unknowns!
Here is a picture of the start of walk-in- where the Eshan Valley meets the main Wakhan Corridor.