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Asia, Afghanistan, Wakhan Corridor, Koh-e-Bardar (6,078m), Previously Unreported First Ascent

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2007

Wakhan Corridor, Koh-e-Bardar (6,078m), previously unreported first ascent. In late spring 2005 Mark Jenkins and I spent two-and-a-half weeks in the Wakhan Corridor, traveling its entire length with Greg Mortenson to visit schools that Mortenson is constructing through his organization, the Central Asia Institute. We used a Toyota 4WD that barely got us through some major river crossings but managed to reach Sarhad at the road head in the Wakhan, where there is a nearly constructed school that will hold 250 students. We also met huge quantities of snow due to unusually heavy falls the previous winter. Despite this we managed to make what may be the first ascent of any previously unclimbed peak in the country (certainly above 6,000m) since the Soviet invasion in 1979.

With the blessing of our trusted guide and interpreter, Sarfraz Khan, we pitched base camp in the one-hut village of Purwakshan (3,156m) on April 30. The next morning we hiked and later post-holed up the steep Purwakshan Valley to the north, entering the craggy peaks of the High Pamir. We spent the night of May 1 at 4,427m and the following day reached our high camp at 4,842m on a glacial moraine. Koh-e-Bardar’s elegant, scimitar-shaped south ridge was our obvious choice. To take advantage of night-frozen snow, we left camp at 12:45 a.m. on May 3 and gained the ridge by soloing a 50-60° snow slope. The ridge itself was spectacular, moderate climbing with an exciting knife-edge. A short AI 3 section led onto the crevassed summit glacier and waist-deep post-holing. We clambered atop the summit block at 6:45 a.m. and soaked in the stunning views of the Hindu Kush and the Wahkan’s High Big Pamir. Descent was via an icefall to the west of the ridge. In honor of the integrity and tenacity of our guide, we named our route Sarfraz Ridge.

Douglas Chabot, AAC

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