The unexplored sections of high Hindu Kush

By Prof. Rahmat Karim Baig

The Hindu Kush chain of mountains spreads over a thousand kilometres from a point close to Chilinji Pass in the south of Pamir westward rising at every few km till it reaches the highest point of the chain that is Terich Mer (7708m) with four sister massifs that stand above 7,000m in separate groups.

They were invaded by western climbers in the 50s, 60s and 70s in a larger number but that high point of adventure tourism declined after 1980 and dropped to bottom by 2,000. During this great rush, a number of easier peaks were easily summited but some were much more difficult for climbing and rock climbing training needed to achieve success.
The climbers of that overcrowded period exchanged their experiences among themselves and guided each other. As in Europe they have Alpine clubs in all countries and they hold regular meetings of their clubs and discuss the reports of the previous expeditions and plan for the next years. This regularity makes many things easier and climbers from all the countries presented their accounts that were in different languages and so the exchange of information made a good linkage but here we knew very little about their activities.

We have only access to English climbing stories but know nothing about the ones written in other languages e.g. in German, in French, in Italian, in Spanish, in Norwegian, in Japanese, in Slovakian etc. In those meetings the climber and members of the mountaineering clubs provided their sketches like the ones released by Japs on the contours of Saraghrar massif, photos and handmade maps that helped to reach higher altitudes but some Cwms, wider snow fields, steep rock walls, confusing spurs, routes, hidden valleys still remained unexplored and in many cases names were confused and written on maps that were incorrect. I have before me a map of high Hindu Kush by Jerzy Wala – the well known Polish climber and cartographer – and in this map the north and south Udren glaciers in the Udren valley of Terich, have been confused and written Atahk glaciers- very wrong and incorrect info. The Atahk is the next valley known as Lower and upper Terich glaciers whereas Udren valley is a totally separately valley and also a longer one in this region and also longer than the former. The names of the peaks above 6,000m have not been given any map or sketch, cols have been shown passes.

Similarly, in the Rosh Gol valley of Hindu Kush the great Saraghrar massif has not been properly explored because it is a very vast plateau and not an easy task at that height to traverse it from north to south or east to west either due to bad weather on the ascension day of the climbers or their inexperience. The south face of this great massif is easier but the west face is a steep rock of 3,000m, tried by Japs many times, thrice tried by Spaniards – the last in 1982 when they could reach 7,200m but the whole top of the massif is still unmapped and the total of the peaks and domes of this massif is over 13, according to Alfred Fendt – a German climber and all the tops stand at two km from each other and clouds make it difficult to stay on top of this massif to get a complete photo/ sketch of all the peaks, so is the case with Istor-O-Nal.

There is a hidden Cwm in the Prechu group of peaks where scores of peaks stand unclimbed with a long snow field that has never been trekked (5,000m). The Darband glacier has also not been properly explored and routes to Now Shaq north, Darband Zom, Shingeik Zom etc. have not been recorded and documented except the map drawn by Jerzy Wala whose measurement of the height of the peaks were later challenged such as Kuhe Nadir Shah, Keshni Khan etc. were later down sized.

If some mountaineering club from anywhere in the world, an individual or any one else is interested in the exploration of High Hindu Kush, will find my services as volunteer. I shall happily join such a team to document all that is needed for this purpose.


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