Category Archive: Pomir

Wakhan River

Wakhan River is a branch of the Panj River along its upper length in Wakhan Valley

Want to see the picturesque views of the real nature witness the breathtaking look of the mountains with a snowy hat on them, beneath whom the blue water is flowing and inhale the extremely fresh air brought by the wind of the wild evergreen trees along the gorges in the branches of the river, you need to see Wakhan River!
 The river arises in the Hindu Kush. It is formed by the confluence of the Wakhjir River and the Bozai Darya near Kashch Goz .  Shortly thereafter, the Little Pamir comes to an end and the conjoined river contracts into a narrow, deep, rapid river, delimited by cliffs and steep hills. From here the banks have grown birch and juniper trees.

Ishkashim Bazaar

The market lies just a few kilometers outside of Ishkashim on the road to Khorog. On Saturdays, residents from all around the Wakhan gather on the islands in between the Afghan and Tajik border posts for the weekly market.

If you were planning to buy souvenirs anywhere on your Central Asia journey, this is the place to do it. Not only can you pick up sweets and clothes and sundry items from Afghanistan, but you can also trade for a bit of Afghan currency to hang on to. For stuff from the Tajik Wakhan, too, this is the biggest central market you’ll find in the area so it can make sense to buy here. Even if you don’t want ‘stuff’, vendors set up small food stands and even a teahouse under one of the big metal pavilions so at least consider having lunch here before you head back.
A traveler favorite, the Ishkashim cross-border bazaar has long been a place to interact with Afghanistan without the need for that country’s visa and permit. Due to recent security and a high-profile assassination in the area in late summer of 2012, though, the future of foreign access to this market may now be in question. All information was current up until August of 2012.
Bazaar Access
The market lies just a few kilometers outside of Ishkashim on the road to Khorog. On Saturdays, residents from all around the Wakhan gather on the islands in between the Afghan and Tajik border posts for the weekly market.
To get here from the Tajik village of Ishkashim, either walk or find a ride for the ~3km stretch of road outside of town.
If coming from Khorog, the market is at a very obvious gathering of cars on the side of the road just before you arrive in Ishkashim.

In Wakhan Corridor

Public transport is limited in the Wakhan and many tourists explore the Tajik side of the valley on bicycles and seem to enjoy the experience. For public transport, though, there is one semi-regular bus that runs from the main street in Ishkashim all the way through to Langar. Other options include share-taxis (more expensive but also much faster than the bus), hitching (though often these rides will expect some payment as well), or walking. Most likely, an extended journey will rely on a combination of all of the above over the course of going up and down the Wakhan.

To Wakhan Corridor

From Dushanbe, catch a shared-taxi (approximately 20-24 hours, several departing dailies) from the Avtovokzal to the town of Khorog in the Pamirs. From here, one more ride (~4 hours, departing regularly) to Ishkashim will land you in the Wakhan itself. Once you get to Ishkashim, occasional public busses continue down the valley to Langar or across the Afghan border you can arrange private transit further into the Afghan Wakhan.

Ibn Sina Peak

There are 16 established routes, nine on the southern side and seven on the northern slopes. The peak is quite popular with climbers due to its easy access and some uncomplicated routes. However, the peak is not without its share of disasters.

Ibn Sina (Avicenna) Peak rises to 7,134 metres (23,406 ft) in Gorno-Badakhshan (GBAO) on the border of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, and is the second-highest point of both countries. It is considered one of the less technical 7000 m peaks in the world to climb and it has by far the most ascents of any 7000 m or higher peak on Earth, with every year seeing hundreds of mountaineers make their way to the summit. Ibn Sina Peak is the highest mountain in the Trans-Alay Range of Central Asia, and in the Pamir Mountains in Tajikistan, it is exceeded only by Ismoil Somoni Peak (7,495 m). It was thought to be the highest point in the Pamirs in Tajikistan until 1933 when Ismoil Somoni Peak was climbed and found to be more than 300 metres higher.
Climbing history and routes
Initial exploration of this part of Central Asia occurred in the period 1774–82. Arguably the first recorded travel through the region is the involuntary journey of the slave Filipp Efremov (an ethnic Russian), who escaped from slavery in Bukhara. He crossed the Fergana valley, then via Osh, the Chigirik Pass and Terekdavan Pass he reached the Kashgar and finally came over the Karakorum. He was the first European who crossed the Alai Mountains.[9] [10]
Scientific expeditions to the Alai Mountains began in 1871 when Alexei Pavlovich Fedchenko discovered the Trans-Alai (Zaalayskiy) Range and its main peak. The first geographical expedition which came nearest to the base of the future Lenin Peak in the early 20th century was arguably the expedition of Nikolai Leopol’dovich Korzhenevskiy.
In September 1928, three mountaineers -the Germans Eugen Allwein and Karl Wien, and the Austrian Erwin Schneider- from a Soviet-German scientific expedition, made the first attempt to reach the highest point of the Trans-Alai Range, which at that time had the name Kaufman Peak.
They started climbing upstream of the Saukdara river along the South slope of Trans-Alai Range also Trans-Alay Range. From the river head, they continued climbing along the Greater Saukdara Glacier towards a saddle at an elevation of 5820 m (this saddle is also known as the Krilenko Pass). On September 25, 1928 they started climbing from the saddle along the NE Ridge and at 15.30 they reached the summit. At the time, Kaufman Peak was the highest summit reached by men.
The title Lenin Peak was first applied to the highest point of the Trans-Alai Range in the same year (1928). When it was renamed after Lenin it was believed to be the highest point in the USSR.
On September 8, 1934, at 16:20 Kasian Chernuha, Vitaly Abalakov and Ivan Lukin, three members of a Soviet expedition, reached the summit at an elevation of 7,134 metres (23,406 ft). Their attempt lasted for four days with three camps (5700 m, 6500 m, and 7000 m). The expedition started climbing from the Achik-Tash canyon in the Alai valley. The summit attempt itself was started along the Western ice slope of the Lenin glacier. They continued climbing along the North Face, passing the rocks that were later given the name Lipkin’s Rocks. At the end of the second day, they reached the crest of the NE ridge at an elevation of about 6500 m. During the following day and a half, they climbed along the NE Ridge and, utterly exhausted, reached the summit.
The third ascent was three years later, in 1937, when eight Soviet climbers under the direction of Lev Barkhash reached the summit by the same route. This was at the beginning of mass political repressions in the Soviet Union and many of the most prominent Soviet climbers, including Lev Barkhash, were brought to trial.
Subsequent attempts to climb Lenin Peak could not begin until 1950 when the USSR began to recover from the Second World War. On August 14, 1950, twelve climbers (V. Aksenov, K, Zaporojchenko, Y. Izrael, V. Kovalev, A. Kormshikov, Y. Maslov, E. Nagel, V. Narishkin, V. Nikonov, V. Nozdryuhin, I. Rojkov) under the direction of Vladimir Racek reached the summit for the fourth time.
All three Soviet expeditions including Racec’s expedition of 1950 were by almost the same route via the NE Ridge.[11]
The route which now is known as the classic route, via the Razdelnaya Peak and NW Ridge, was first climbed in 1954 by the team of Soviet climbers under the direction of V. Kovalev (P. Karpov, E. Nagel, V. Narishkin, V. Nozdryuhin).
In 1960, a group of eight Soviet climbers made a successful direct climb along the North Face (15.08.1960).[8]
There are 16 established routes, nine on the southern side and seven on the northern slopes. The peak is quite popular with climbers due to its easy access and some uncomplicated routes. However, the peak is not without its share of disasters. In 1974, an entire team of eight female climbers died high on the mountain in a storm.

Ismoili Somoni Peak

The most famous tourist and mountaineering object in the Pamirs is the highest peak in the whole CIS – the 7,495m.

Location – Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast, Jirgatol district. Junction of the Academy of Sciences and the Peter I mountain ranges, In the north-west part of the Pamirs.
Transportation – by helicopter from Dushanbe or Jirgatol, by car to Devshar village in Jirgatol district and then on foot.
Go on
It was discovered in 1928 during a Soviet-German research expedition and for some time was called Stalin Peak. It was renamed Communism Peak in 1962. A group from the Tajik-Pamir research expedition climbed the highest peak in the former Soviet Union for the first time from the Bivachny glacier in 1933. E. Abalakov completed the climb on 2 September. Until 1962 Soviet mountaineers were the only ones who had made the ascent to the peak. Englishmen were the first foreigners to climb it. The best way for tourists and mountaineers to get to the peak area is by a 30 – 40 minute helicopter flight from Jirgatol airport. Tourists are transported to the village by vehicle or by air from Dushanbe. The most convenient places for high-altitude expedition bases are in the upper reaches of the Fortambek glacier, where nature has created two places suitable for this purpose.
These are the Suloev and Moskvin glades, which lead to relatively simple and safe routes to the nearest and highest peaks in the Pamirs – Ismoili Somoni Peak and Korzhenevskaya Peak (7,105m). The Suloev glade is located 4,100m above sea level, in the pocket of the left moraine of the Turamys glacier (source of the Fortambek glacier). A medical and biological expedition of the Tajik SSR’s Academy of Sciences, which studied the problems of the adaptation of living organisms to the alpine conditions, worked on the Suloev glade in 1971 – 1977 and established two permanent houses. Mountain climbers from the “Stormy Petrel” sports society established a reasonably simple way of climbing to the Pamiri glacier snow plateau (a fairly even 12km plateau at a height of 6,000m) and further to Ismoili Somoni Peak along one of the mountain ridges. Since that time it has been known as “Stormy Petrel’s ridge”. In the 1980s, a shorter route to the Pamir glacier snow plateau was established from the Walter glacier along “Borodkin’s ridge”, and the Mountaineers’ center slowly moved to another glade: the Moskvin, where the Alp-Navruz base camp is now located. The camp is situated in a sub-alpine zone 4,200m above sea level, on the eastern terrace at the junction of Walter and Moskvin glaciers (eastern tributaries of the Fortambek glacier), and it is the most convenient starting point for climbing Ismoili Somoni Peak and Korzhenevskaya Peak because of the ease of access to it. The glade near the Moskvin glacier (total area of about 10 hectares) is fairly safe from rock falls or avalanches.
There is a small spring-water lake on the Moskvin glade, 4 two-bed, shielded, warmed tents where the camp administration is located during the seasonal period, 11 two-bed houses made of wood and aluminum for mountaineers and tourists, a communication centre, a canteen, a shower, a sauna and other facilities. When necessary, tarpaulin tents are set up here. The main source of electric power on the Moskvin glade is a diesel generator. Natural gas provides heat for cooking. Iron tanks with diesel fuel and containers with natural gas are delivered by helicopter from Dushanbe. There is also a convenient helicopter landing-ground here.
At present there are two ways of delivering people, shipments, and food to Moskvin glade: by helicopter from Dushanbe (flight time – 1.5 hours each way) or a 350km drive to the east of the capital, along the Vakhsh, Surkhob and Muksu rivers as far as Depshar (near Jirgatol), and then a 7-day walk to the final destination – through four mountain passes (Belkandov, Irgay, Tamosha and Kuray Shapak) along the northern ridge of the Peter I range, accompanied by porters specially trained in mountain conditions. At present, the camp functions on the Moskvin glade for only two to three months (July-September). The rest of the time it is not operational due to the difficulty of access and severe climate conditions (freezing temperatures, wind, snow, and altitude).

Peak Korzhenevskaya

Korzhenevskaya Peak is the third highest peak in the Pamir Mountains of Tajikistan. It is one of the five «Snow Leopard Peaks» in the territory of the former Soviet Union.

Peak Korzhenevskaya lies about 13 km (8.1 mi) north of Ismoil Somoni Peak, the highest point of the Pamirs.
Notable features
Korzhenevskaya is one of the five 7,000 m peaks of the former Soviet Union (this counts Khan Tengri, which is more often given as 6,995 m) that were required for a climber to be awarded the Snow Leopard award, the highest honor given to Soviet mountaineers. However it is not a small mountain; its rise above local terrain rivals that of Ismoil Somoni Peak since it is closer to the deep valley of the Muksu River.
Climbing History
In 1937 D. Gushchin led an attempt on the peak which reached the lower summit (6,910 m).
Korzhenevskaya was first climbed in 1953 by a party led by A. Ugarov; the summit team comprised Ugarov, B. Dimitriev, A. Goziev, A. Kovyrkov, L. Krasavin, E. Ryspajev, R. Sielidzanov, and P. Skorobogatov. They approached via the Fortambek Glacier, to the Korzhenevsky glacier, and thence to the north ridge.
Partly since it is required for the Snow Leopard award, Korzhenevskaya has been climbed many times; it is the second most frequented major peak in the Pamirs, after Lenin Peak. A base camp on the moraine of the Moskvin Glacier, and helicopter access make this possible. Korzhenevskaya has been climbed from almost every direction, including a first winter ascent in 1987 by Anatoly Nosov; most of these ascents were by Russians. The most common current route on the mountain ascends from the south and attains the summit ridge from the west side.

The Pamir Mountains

The Pamir Mountains — The Roof of the World

Pamir mountains are one of the highest and beautiful ranges in the world. In terms of location, Pamir occupies Tajikistan, China and little parts of Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan on the square of 92,000 sq km and lies between Hindu Kush, Tien Shan, and Himalayas.

Known in Persian as the ‘Bam-i-Dunya’ or «Roof of the World», these mountains form one of the most unexplored regions on earth. High, cold and remote, they are now opening up for climbers and trekkers from all over the world.
The highest peaks include Kongur peak of 7719 m (China), Muztagh Ata peak of 7546 m (China), Communism peak of 7495 m is also the highest peak of Tajikistan.

Wakhan Valley

Wakhan valley is one of the wildest landscapes on our planet. It is 210 kilometres long and between 20 kilometres and 60 kilometres wide valley splitting the Pamir Mountains from the Hindu Kush and named after Wakhi people who inhabit the area. It is mostly known for Wakhan Corridor — a result of the Great Game played over the Pamir mountains between Tsarist Russia and England.
Originally an Indian territory, Wakhan was given to Afghanistan to create a buffer zone between Russian Pamir and British jewel in a crown — India. British were upset with Russia’s successful gains in Central Asia and really didn’t want them to approach India — the richest colony of Queens Britain. At some moment Russians appeared on the borders with Afghanistan and claimed territories north of Pyanj to be under Russian Empire rule.

The first British response to this revived Russian activism was as we have seen to agree to the formation of a Boundary Commission. By September of 1885 agreement was reached between the Russians and the British on the need to reach a final settlement of the boundaries and respective spheres of influence in the Pamirs. Two years after the final minutes was signed and the Russian-Afghan border was demarcated from Gerirud river to Oxus and the transfer of the territories was complete.

By this minute British received south Pushtun territories and set the border along so known Durand line which Afghan government does not recognize till our days and Afghanistan received Wakhan in the north-west which separated Russian territories from British India. Wakhan keeps a lot of monuments worth to see and many of them are now described here on our website.

Lake Sarez

Lake Sarez

Lake Sarez — Tajikistan’s biggest naturally formed, rock-dammed lake created on 6(18) February of 1911 at 23:15 as a result of the earthquake of 7.5 points according to Richter scale caused a massive landslide of 2,2 km3 which sealed off Murgab river valley and buried Usoi village with all the inhabitants. The created dam is 567 metres tall and 4 km wide and is currently the highest natural dam in the world.
A sealed off Murgab river flood the area and another village Sarez located upstream in the same year. A lake was named after Sarez village while the dam is known as Usoi dam after the village buried under the mass of the mudslide. Sarez is the youngest lake in the world. In 1913 the first research showed the lake to be 28 km long, 1,5 km across and 279 m deep. Every day the water level grew up for 36 sm and only in 1914 Sarez waters created an outflow thru the dam and gave a start to Bartang River — one of the Pyanj feeders.
Since then a lake has grown to 55.8 km in length, 3,3 km across and 500 metres deep at its deepest point. The lake’s volume is currently 16, 074 km3 which is equal to Oxus annual discharge. In 1939 a hydrometeorological observatory was opened on the lake’s shore for permanent control over the lake’s waters as some sources believe the lake pose potential risks for downstream communities.
Should another strong earthquake or rock slide occur in the lake’s vicinity, the Usoi dam may give a crack or dam’s ‘right bank’- a partially collapsed body of earth and rock with a mass of roughly 3 cubic kilometers-might fall into the lake. The displacement could generate a wave large enough to wash away Usoi dam and release a wall of water that could flood some 6 million people living downstream along the Bartang, Pyanj and Amu-Darya rivers in Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan, as well as in Tajikistan.
While catastrophic scenarios about the future of Lake Sarez are easy to come by, measures to mitigate the threats it poses are less so. Scientists still debate on what should be undertaken — some say about pumping station which would pump the water out of the lake the others about the need of drilling into Usoi dam in order to release water in controlled circumstances and reduce the pressures on the structure.
In the face of this uncertainty, the government and international community continue to monitor water levels and pressure in Lake Sarez-which, at the moment, seem relatively stable.