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Shadzud Valley: Exploration and Ascents

During the summer of 2010, a series of violent acts against foreigners in northern Afghanistan led our team to explore an area of the Rushan Range in Tajikistan instead of the Hindu Kush. We drove from Dushanbe to Khorog, from which I hoped we could reach the glaciers in a single day. We were successful, but it wasn’t easy.

We made base camp at the highest green meadow in the Shadzud Valley, and during two weeks in September our team made a number of first ascents, enjoying the stable climate, moderate scale of the peaks, the variety of rock, snow, and ice features, and the sheer expanse of undocumented mountains. The most abundant climbing is on moderate ice faces (north aspects) that ramp from glacier valley to summit ridge. There also are “goulotte” routes that follow veins of ice through steeper rock faces. We made around 10 climbs, five of these being significant summits; we named the highest peak we climbed Asabek (5,354m map height, Michael Reid, Andrew Stokes-Rees, and Sam Williams, September 22).

Visible to the west of base camp was a peak we called Hourglass (5,022m map height) for its striking ice feature. This was climbed relatively easily by David Gladwin (solo). We also climbed a peak to the northwest, a striking feature we called the Sickle (TD, 65° and short mixed sections, Matthew Freear, Michael Reid, Andrew Stokes-Rees, and James Yip). [Download the complete expedition report.] 

– Andrew Stokes-Rees, U.K.