In which I mention briefly my (JP) plans for this year. North face of Muz-Tok (pictured here in 2009 American Alpine Journal, gentle bedtime reading on these cold winter nights). I’ll be with Ed Lemon (who I climbed with in Tajikistan in 2012) and Martin Jones. Muz-Tok is in south-west Kyrgyzstan, not far from the triple point between Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Access may be complex, involving incursions into Tajikistan and/or Uzbekistan but that will all be part of the adventure. Thanks for reading everyone!
As the date of our departure grows ever nearer, perhaps it is time to actually tell you when that date will be, along with the juicy details of our long planned expedition.
On Saturday 20th July we will board the first of our flights, from Manchester to Istanbul. Once there we will have approximately 23 hours for riot-dodging and tourism, then jetting off again to Dushanbe, where we will arrive at nearly 4am on Monday morning.
Our first task will be to get over our jetlag and acclimatise to the heat of our new surroundings (peaking around 36 deg C). Our time is limited, so we will head straight for the local bazaar and stock up on all the rice, lentils and pasta we need to keep us sustained at base camp.
Next is a long, long day in a shared taxi along the Pamir Highway,to the city of Khorog in Gorno-Badakhshan province.
As the crow flies the distance is 160 miles, however the mountainous terrain means the journey is actually double that, at 321 miles. The poor condition of the roads and long uphills will add even more time to the journey. We hope to make it to Khorog before the sun rises the next day…
In Khorog we hope to stay at the Pamir Lodge (hot water!) before continuing in another taxi to Murgab. This journey is shorter, and the temperature will be more amenable as we head higher into the Pamir mountains. The altitude will probably have some effect, as the road hits 4300m at Koi-Tezek Pass.
Murgab is a small town, only growing at all thanks to its position at a crossroads, where trading routes from China, Kyrgyzstan and the capital meet.
Again we will be moving on quickly, taking the Pamir Highway north for 65 miles, then sneaking round the back of the mountains on dirt roads. Our aim is the mouth of the Bozbaital valley, where we hope to hire a horse or donkey from local nomads, to speed up the walk up the valley to base camp. If there are no nomads, or the valley is impassable to horses, then we will have to take the weight ourselves.
The head of the valley and unclimbed peaks will then be within our grasp…