Saturday, August 17, 2013

Khorog to Base Camp


It was about a four hour drive from Khorog to the road head at a village named Jawshangoz where we planned to spend the night before beginning our hike to base camp.    

Driving into the Pamirs.  Karl Marx Peak is in the distance on the right
The drive was beautiful up a gorge that brought us up onto a high steppe where we got our first view of Karl Marx peak.   We drove through a rather deep river to get to Jawshangoz where we found our Homestay amongst the few houses in the village.

It is a beautiful spot in a broad grassy valley that is good for pasturing, but not a tree in sight.  

Village of Jawshangoz at the end of the road

The Aga Khan Foundation and the EU had provided funding for local families to build or refurbish traditional Pamiri lodges as places for tourists to stay.  These Homestays were run by the women in the local family that ran the lodge and provided them with a bit of cash.  It gave these women some income and experience running a small business which seemed to give them some additional status in their families and the community. 

Traditional Pamiri Lodge where we had our Homestay

Girls in the village of  Jawshangoz
We met with the donkey drivers who will take our equipment to base camp.  Apparently it is only bout a 4-6 hour walk from here.  We have about 660lbs of food and equipment that we need to transport to base camp.  This afternoon they say the local men have only three small donkeys, but they claim they could carry 300 lbs each! We packed all the donkey loads and reshuffled our personal duffels in case the donkeys need two days to get all our stuff up to BC.  That way we can send loads up to base camp tomorrow and then move up there the next day if there are not enough donkeys to move everything at once.  We are pleasantly surprised that no other trekkers or climbers are here.  We have the place to ourselves.

On the morning of July 18th, only two donkeys showed up and now the locals are trying to talk us into hiring a jeep that they say will take our loads most of the way there.  There is a rough road up the valley but it only goes about two thirds of the distance to base camp.  We couldn't get a good answer as to how they would get our loads the rest of the way to base camp from the end of the road so we decided to not hire the jeep.  In the meantime a couple more donkeys showed up but the donkey drivers down graded the amount the donkeys could carry to 80 lbs.  We decided to load the donkeys with food and equipment we didn't need to spend another night in Jawshangoz and then move up to base camp tomorrow. I thought it was a good idea to stay here another night to acclimatize since we have come up pretty rapidly here to 11,000 feet.


Donkey driver taking a load to base camp

The valley was lush with grass and the locals graze animals all the way up to base camp

 Three donkeys showed up early this morning and were able to carry the rest of our loads.  We left Jawshangoz at 7AM up the valley towards Karl Marx peak.  It was an easy hike mostly on a road.  We arrived at base camp at around noon where we have an incredible views of Karl Marx Peak and Engels Peak from BC.  We spent several hours getting the camp all set up.   Bakhtiyore and Zadifa are doing well as assistant cook and cook for never having done this kind of thing before.  They were also helpful in communicating with the donkey drivers.  No one speaks any English here.

North Face of Karl Marx Peak


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