American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Afghanistan, Abinger Afghanistan Expedition 1960

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1961

Abinger Afghanistan Expedition 1960. Early in 1959 permission was sought from the Afghan Government for an all-women expedition to travel in Wakhan and climb some peaks of the Pamirs from the south. This was refused but an alternative suggestion of climbing in the Hindu Kush was accepted. A plan was therefore made to travel up the Panjshir Valley from Kabul, to attempt the ascent of Mir Samir (19,880 feet) and other peaks of the Hindu Kush, and to return via Nuristan. Because of financial difficulties, the party was reduced to two members, Joyce Dunsheath and Eleanor Baillie, both members of the Ladies Alpine Club. We left England on July 10, and traveled via Leningrad, Moscow, Tbilisi, Teheran, Meshed and Herat to Kabul. On August 2, we made from Teheran an ascent of Demavend (18,600 feet) without guides or porters. Kabul was reached on August 14, where we waited ten days for equipment sent by sea. In the interval, permission was confirmed to climb in the Hindu Kush but refused for travel in Nuristan. The road ended 60 miles from Kabul at the village of Zeneh and donkeys carried the half-ton of baggage on the three-day trek to Kaujan. Here it was possible to substitute horses for donkeys and the following day, August 26, the party of two women, four horsemen, two porters and a soldier, who had been officially attached at Zeneh, set off up the stream which flows down from Mir Samir to join the Panjshir at this point.

A Base Camp was set up after two days march at about 12,700 feet and the horsemen went home, leaving the two unreliable porters to carry higher. From this camp, however, a week was spent as intended in practice climbs including "Twintop” (ca. 15,000 feet); here, as in most cases, summit pinnacles were impossible because of the rotten and crumbling nature of the rock. On September 5, a second camp at about 13,500 feet was set up, and after two nights of good weather, a tent and provisions for five days were carried to a height of 15,000 feet to a camp from which it was hoped to reach the summit of Mir Samir. The next day we made a reconnaissance of a route to the summit by the southwest ridge which appeared to be feasible with one bivouac en route. That night, however, the weather broke. The fall of snow on the unstable rock slope made conditions extremely dangerous and we had to make an immediate descent to the camp below. After a few days the weather cleared but the porters would not go up to 15,000 feet again for they hated the cold, so the attempt on the summit was abandoned. We decided to return to Kaujan and from there to follow the Panjshir to its source and beyond to the Anjuman Pass where we hoped to get a glimpse of the Pamirs. Fresh horsemen were recruited with considerable difficulty and on September 13, we set off with four horses and men. All the way up the valley there was considerable opposition from the natives because of the danger from Nuristani raiders but by sheer persistence the party eventually reached the Anjuman Pass. A climb of "Schönheit” (approx. 13,500 feet) was made and a height of 15,000 feet gained on another unclimbed, unnamed peak. On September 23, the expedition began the return journey to Kabul, reaching it on September 28.

Joyce Dunsheath, Ladies Alpine Club

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