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lextoindia
21.11.2011, 19:41
So far the Kalandar River Valley looks like my first destination in Pakistan from Afganistan.
I'm still doing lots of reading but here are my questions:
Is anyone familiar with Kalandar (Qalandar) Pass?
How deep is Karambar River (in which seasons)? Is it possible to raft?
Is the the Karambar River area safe? Where would I check to get updated security information?
Can I buy food or fuel? Are housestays possible?
What about guides or transportation?
What would be an good (and lightweight) gift for a family in upper Karambar River Valley area? Is there a type of Tea they might like? Are there any trade skills or services that are in demand?
Would it be likely that someone friendly would want my no-longer-needed mountain climbing and rafting gear or would it be better for me to just dump it when I'm done with it?

This is the area I'm talking about: http://maps.google.de/maps/ms?msid=215050541172506955994.0004b22fb673140477d2 7&msa=0&ll=36.914215,73.818512&spn=0.336534,0.617294

lextoindia
21.11.2011, 20:04
In the satalite photos all of the southern slopes are bare while areas in the shade have snow. Is this a picture of summer or is it typical year round?

tim2007viatge
23.11.2011, 07:08
Hi Lex(toIndia),
I suggest to continue here there merger of this thread with the one in the Central Asia chapter where you provide this introduction:
Ich bin der Lex und es gibt heir viele datum ich Brauche. Ich sagt "hallo" jetzt und später fragen nach ein bission liesen. Bitte geduldig mit mein Deutsche. xD
Hello, my name is Lex and I am planning on hiking through the Wakhan Valley, Afgan Pamir and Hindu Kush en route to India from Germany in early 2012 with my German girlfriend. I noticed that some of you have done things like this so I decided to register so that I could ask questions. I must first read through the wealth of information already posted but feel free to comment anytime. I am a moderately experienced hiker and Scout in extremely good physical condition, but with the recent addition to my hiking party I must make more careful planning and preparation.

My biggest concerns right now are navigating through border control between Tajikistan and India (where are they, what documents do I need?), finding multiple safe (environmentally and politically) routes through the Hindu Kush (I haven't found decent maps yet), and most importantly: getting from the foothills of Norther Pakistan to the KKH highway safely.

Yes, I am aware of general warning about Afganistan and Pakistan, and especially strong warnings about the Northern and Tribal areas of Pakistan. Yes, I am aware that the Hindu Kush in winter is a very challenging to nearly impossible hike, I chose it for that reason specifically as this should mean no random Jihadists or smugglers wandering around. Your more specific warnings and advice would be greatly appreciated.
(It's a single, continous quote, but the editor program insists in inserting </quote><quote> - with [] - , even after manual deletion.)

tim2007viatge
23.11.2011, 07:09
I saw an earlier version of your post where you mentioned skiing and rafting. It seems you have cleaned that up after maturing your opinion. My first impression of your first postings was that you lack the travel experience that should complement your scout experience and physical fitness in order to be prepared for such an adventurous trip. Now I have looked at you profile. After figuring out that WA is probably not Western Australia but Washington State, I see that you have a moderate hiking and travelling experience in North America and Western Europe.

If someone gets exhausted by climbing the stairs up to the 2nd floor, would you take him onto a physically demanding 3 day scouting adventure in a dangerous environment? I think that great leaps forward are never a good idea, neither regarding physical challenges nor challenging changes from “western” to “exotic” culture. If Almeria is the most “exotic” place you have ever visited, should you do a trekking tour in the Hindu Kush?
In my opinion you should try something intermediate before, like a more o less conventional trek in Nepal or Ladakh, for example. I hope that after such an intermediately challenging experience you will continue to aspire for more unique trekking adventures, like the one you propose here, and realize it within a few years from now.

I never travelled in that region. The answer from Maximus in another thread about the Lasht- Boroghil-(Wakhan).Karambar-Chilinji-Chapursan-Trek is what I expected: Boarder crossing can be a major problem. You could try to find out (here or in a general travel forum) if there are legal boarder crossings in that area and what are the consequences if a police or military control finds you without an entry stamp in your passport.
Alexandre Poussin (born 1970) and Sylvain Tesson (1972) managed to cross illegally the boarders from Nepal to China and from China to India when they walked 5000km across the Himalaya in 1997 with just 6kg in their backpacks. They were jailed in India a night or two, however. Don’t know if their book has been translated from French into other languages.

Good luck!
Tim

lextoindia
23.11.2011, 12:53
It would be a huge leap for us if we were to fly directly to Korog and then start hiking, yes. But we'll have already been underway for 2 months with 1 month of trekking in middle east and central asia and a small mountian pass crossing (in Tajikistan) already by the time we get to Afgan Pamir. I plan on montioring our morning resting heart rate above 2000meters for several days and then again for 1 full day at ~3800m before attempting to ascend to 5000m. If at this point, or after 1 day of climbing, we are not feeling 100% prepared for it we will abort and head back. According to the info I have found our VO2 max will be reduced by ~25% at 5000m and I am considering that very carefully.

Do you have any suggestions for an alternate route to Bangalore from the Afgan Pamir? Any specific suggestions for resting heart rate goals?

I'm also a moderately experienced personal fitness and nutrition coach. The only challenge to Nele's physcial preparedness will be her attitude. Again, if there are problems we will abort.

I've been to places much more "exotic" than Almeria (which dissapointed me in how much it was like where I grew up plus a nice beach) in USA and I've traveled over much of europe. After 10 psychologically punishing months in germany I look forward to dealing with something as straighforward and easy to understand as radical militants xD Nele is another story entirely though. Thanks for bringing this up. Any advice on what signals I should take as a sign that she isn't handling the cultural stress and we should abort before tackling the most strenuous and dangerous part of our trek?

Nele doesn't know how to ski and I'm not going to carrying skis for 3 days just to use them for 20 minutes. There's nothing "immature" about considering the option to ski if there are going to be decent slopes to ski on right there. Nor rafting if it's easier than hiking. It's a few hundred kilometers so if the river is relatively free of rapids it will be worth it to bring a raft. Any general advice from who people who have hiked up to start rafting or canoeing trips before?

I'm well aware that this trek is dangerous and difficult. I require good advice to identify the specific risks and avoid or minimize them. It's quite possible that some of the routes I identified haven't been climbed in over 1000 years, or that no one has skiied the Hindu Kush in this area, or rafted down the Karambar river. If I can't find a specific reason why it can't be done I'm going to go do it. But someone has probably done it before and I just need to find them so they can tell me how to do it.

lextoindia
24.11.2011, 14:23
Nele is being highly resistant to the idea of going to Afganistan at all much less hiking into Pakistan without passing through an official border crossing. This is really bumming me out as my Pakistan route, despite now being complete, is nearly collapsing under it's own weight anyway. I am putting up some very strong arguments for hiking the Afgan Pamir and Hindu Kush without necessarily crossing into Pakistan. All of the hiking challenges have been assesed and they are doable with multiple contingency plans to assure success or a safe abort. All of the security problems have been assessed and they are minimal. Wakhan Valley and Northern Pakistan are beautiful and safe places with friendly people and rich culture. I knew these places existed because I knew that people LIVE HERE. Women, children, families; it's not a ghetto of young boys, it's obviously not an unending war zone. I just had to find them. I've talked personally to people who live and do business in this region and they have helped me to form a 100% complete and safe route from the Wakhan Valley in Tajikistan to Islamabad in Pakistan. The only real problem right now is the legal matter of crossing the border: permission is not currently being granted to cross the border here. I'm still looking for a way to get enough official permission go through without being thrown in jail if our passports are later inspected in Pakistan but hope is dim.

Do you think it's worth it to hike Hindu Kush just to turn around and come back? I was thinking about making an attempt on Qalandar Zom (~5850m) or at least get close enough to look at it and THINK about making an attempt. A story about chickening out at 5100m wouldn't embarass me at all. A story about not even going... I live for this kind of stuff. The idea of giving up before even trying, just because of a stupid sticker in a stupid book, is really depressing me. I don't wanna go to a tourist-infested climbing route with hand rails and covered with garbage. I can do that right here.

Your encouragement and support are, as always, welcome.

Hunza
28.11.2011, 02:54
G'day,
As I mentioned to you in the email as well...there is no way to cross into Pakistan from Wakhan, these days from Hunza valley they have closed the access to Chirpusan valley which we use to do the trekking via Chilenji pass.

So putting all of them into one plan.
- Fly or drive to Khorog
- Ishakashim to Wakhan Afghan side do bit of trekking in the region come back to Ishakashim than carry on to Murghab
- Cross Kizil art pass to Kyrgyzstan Sarai Tash after carry on to Kashgar than to Hunza valley visit North Pakistan after carry on..on the Karakorum highway to Islamabad, Lahore than to India.

If you are into bit more adventure you can even do a bit longer trek in the Wakhan region you can start from big Pamir and carry on to little Pamir and end the trek in Murghab.

Also if you need any help re. permits for Wakhan and local wakhi guides I can recommend you couple of guys there as well.

lextoindia
05.01.2012, 17:05
Wooo! All plans to go to the 'stans were off but now back on again. Like a needed a stupid girlfriend slowing me down anyway. I'll probably arrive later in the year also. April at the earliest, Juli at the latest. I was doing some research and saw -58c as a possible winter time temperature on the peaks. I don't think I can do that. I've done -30c but only for day hikes and field work. I can wait as long as I want really because I have TWO PASSPORTS now and I NEVER HAVE TO GO HOME (wouldn't know where that is anyway).

Anyone happen to know a good place to shop for hiking gear on the way to Korog? I am so not carrying it around eastern europe with me for months. I was thinking Istanbul. Anyone else ever geared up in Istanbul?

Anyone have experience with Nikon AW100? I want to use it as my backup GPS but the map is almost non existent for central asia. Need to figure out if I can update it (chop out the americas and get terrain maps for Hindu Kush and better roads for east europe and asia).

I keep thinking that my backpack is too small. But it's also too heavy already and I've put so much effort into customizing there is no way I'm getting rid of it. I cut all of the metal zipper pulls out today and prelaces them with laces but that only saved 20g. Getting rid of the "daypack" prolly save 1kg and better center of gravity, but I'll have to replace it with something.

Also looking for a new tent. Any suggestions? I tested mine out in the rain in Hamburg sylvester and it was decidedly less than waterproof (if I had set it up 100% perfect it might have worked, but I don't want that big of a margin of error on me getting soaked at night going through the Wakhan Valley as it would probably prevent me from hiking even to the pass. And I don't want that.

lextoindia
07.01.2012, 19:46
the problem that keeps lurking in the back of my mind is how am I going to carry enough food, and how am I going to be able to hike fast enough while carrying so much food to avoid having to carry even more food... I should be able make it to Kalandar pass ok but I don't think I can bring enough supplies to make an attempt on Qalandar Zom. Unless I start shelling out big money for the really fancy alpine gear which I won't be doing.

In a couple months I'll start trying to find someone to go with me. But if no one joins me ascending the peak will be out of the question unless I turn into some kind of hiking god between here and Afganistan.

In more positive news I made my cooking oven today and it works great. It runs on coal and is about the same size as a conventional hiking stove with 1 gas canister. This will obviously be useless to me in windy conditions so unless the weather is really good or I can build snow caves I'll be cooking with body heat only. And considering the limitations on how much coal I can carry I'll probably be doing that most of the time anyway.

lextoindia
09.01.2012, 12:46
Hey! I was doing some research and noticed that the 1925 Mt. Logan expedition decided to RAFT down the river back to the city to avoid walking. And unlike them I am actually an experienced boater so I'll go rafting in the Hindu Kush if I feel like it :P You can read about it here: http://www.virtualmuseum.ca/Exhibitions/Logan/en/index.php?/md/climb/1925climb

I've been doing research on early 1900s mountain climbing to find information about using the kind of supplies I have access to rather than the fancy expensive stuff I won't have. What is your favorite story of expedition or alpine climbing without the aid of modern equipment?

There is a lot of talk about traveling at night to improve footing conditions and avoid avalanche. With a GPS I wouldn't have to worry about getting lost in the dark and with modern lights that will last for days on a single charge and my night climbing experience the risk of falling would be comparable to daytime hiking. Are there modern hiking expeditions that travel primarily at night? I think I might do this. My only concern is that I might spend a lot of time backtracking as I will be scouting out my own trail and if I make a wrong turn I could easily lead myself to an impassible cliff that I didn't see in the dark.

Assuming I can actually make it to the base camp location (what I am hoping is a snow field to the NW of Qalandar Zom that I can build an igloo in) I was wondering about supplementary oxygen. I could easily build a small oxygen generator that could run on my limited solar energy supply with snow and body heat instead of bottled oxygen but I was wondering if anyone else had attempted this before. I'm not up for being the first person to test this technique.

Unless the weather is really good I'm assuming I will be merely looking at Qalandar Zom, not climbing it, but I am determined to be prepared as possible for the last leg after what could turn out to be an easy 2 day hike from the Pamir to the base of the peak (it's only 20km long and 2km elevation rise). My level of confidence at having identified the challenges and prepared ways to cope with them is increasing and I feel very excited for this trip.