(Translated by E. N. Bowman)
[Reprinted from the Alpine Journal]


EVERY year since 1963, a reconnaissance has taken place from Graz to the High (East) Hindu Kush, working systematically from west to east. Thus, in 1963 it was Noshaq,6 1964 Shachaur, Udren Zom and Nadir Shah,7 1965 Buni Zom,8 finally in 1966, Hanns Schell and Rainer Goschl, my companions in the Hindu Kush in 1964-65, succeeded in climbing Akher Chioh.9Until this year this was the smallest climbing group ever to have ascended a 7,000 m. peak in the Hindu Kush. Incidentally this was the most easterly summit in the High Hindu Kush, to be attempted from Chitral. (In 1965 Pinelli got as far as Miragram in the Yarkhun Valley and the Hindu Raj.)


  1. The Mountain World, 1964-1965, p. 39.
  2. Ibid., p. 43.
  3. A.J., Vol. 72, pp. 1-14.
  4. Ibid., Vol. 72, p. 225.


The aim of the 1967 reconnaissance was not so much the ascent of a single peak as exploration, coupled with the examination of climbing possibilities in the area north-east of the Uzhnu Gol, the Jhah Jinali Pass and in the Yarkhun Valley as far as the Darkot Pass and in the Yarkhun Range. I also hoped to reach Gilgit via the Karumbar. In this way I hoped to gain a general survey over all Chitral and to be able to study the change in the natural and cultural landscape between the Hindu Kush and the Karakoram. Unfortunately we were not able to accomplish this, owing to a police patrol which was sent after us and instructed us to return to Chitral Town, despite our official tourist visa for Gilgit. Should it prove impossible to journey at all to north-east Chitral (Yarkhun), we intended to visit the Kotgaz glacier and its surrounding peaks.

In the interests of mobility our party was limited to three: my friend Gerhard Lehner (Graz) and myself, together with my wife, Hildegund, whose third visit to the Hindu Kush this was, with me. We were joined in Chitral by my interpreter, Babu, from Maroi, who, except in 1963, had always accompanied me on my expeditions and looked after the pack-animals and porters. The effortless running of the trip was in no small measure due to his assistance. He has always proved a true friend to us and is now recognized by the Chitral authorities and the Pakistan tourist organization as an official tourist guide.

Our total baggage was divided up among four donkeys or ten porters and consisted of food for five weeks, extensive alpine equipment, photographic and film equipment and porters' food.

On the whole the most favourable times for travel are April-May and September-October. We intended to remain in the mountains from the end of July until about September 10. We chose this time as it would enable us to live off the land on the return trip, which in the north would have proved difficult earlier on. Moreover by this time the rice harvest would be in and consequently the swarms of mosquitoes in the plains would have diminished. For the journey into the hills, I recommend taking along at least one tent equipped with mosquito-nets ! Another factor in favour of an early start was that snow conditions should be reasonably good at the beginning of the period, the end of July and beginning of August. As the season wore on, nieves penitentes and water ice formed often up to a great height owing to the influence of intense radiation and the relatively high daytime temperatures. On the other hand, the melting snow caused high flooding of the river and stream crossings.

We did the whole trip from Europe to Pakistan in a Volkswagen bus. Since we were last in this area, the roads have considerably improved ; long stretches in Iran are now asphalted and one can cross Afghanistan on dust-free roads. In all only about 800 km. of sand road are left throughout the entire trip and these are being worked on.

We originally intended to reach Chitral by air from Peshawar, but this was cancelled owing to heavy cloud over the Lawarai Pass. We went as far as Dir with our own transport and then with hired jeeps to Chitral.

For years only the south approach to the Lawarai Pass was practicable for motor transport, but today even the small Chitral lorries ascend the north side of the pass, carrying heavy loads of timber from the forests of Chitral. They make the return trip with loads of tea, petrol and grain from the Punjab, and salt from the Salt Range.

That Nepal, the Karakoram and Kashmir are closed to climbers becomes increasingly obvious every year, since climbing parties come to Chitral in ever-increasing numbers; in fact, Dr. Diemberger told me that twenty parties arrived in 1967, consisting of British, Americans, Germans, Austrians, Pakistanis and also some Czechs and Japanese. This has naturally tended to increase prices, particularly as some groups tend to accept the price asked without question. For example, the hire of a jeep from Dir to Chitral costs 150 rupees and 100 rupees for the return journey, and 120 rupees from Chitral to Maroi, a distance of only twenty-two miles. Despite the fact that the road is dangerously narrow and one has to take a jeep supplied by the Chitral police, the price is nevertheless excessive. Horses and donkeys cost 1 rupee for two miles, plus 4 rupees per night. Porters cost from 5 to 10 rupees per day (0-3 rupee per mile). Ten rupees per day is often asked for crossing passes or ascending to 4,000 m. It is always better to agree on a price for the entire trip rather than per diem. It is thus important that every climbing party should be quite clear as to the distance it intends to travel, if overpayment is to be avoided. With a large number of porters, this might mean a considerable increase in cost. When faced with particularly brazen demands, it is advisable to wait a day or so and recruit porters from a neighbouring locality—which is nearly always possible—rather than submit to blackmail. When, as often happens, a small party like the Japanese Uzhnu Go] expedition is asked to pay 65 rupees per porter, when only 25 rupees was demanded the previous year, it is obvious that the days of the small and not well-heeled climbing party wishing to carry out good climbing in the mountains of the Hindu Kush, are numbered. It is self-evident that the difficulty of getting the local porters to reduce their fantastic charges down to the level of ordinary mortals is considerable ; I have experienced it myself.

When on the march it is advisable to make an early start and rest up during the excessive midday heat. The best clothing consists of a light, wide and long pair of trousers, a similar type shirt, sun-hat and sandals. These last are always to be preferred to climbing boots for all long stretches as otherwise the excessive heat is liable to cause blisters.

Our 1967 route led from Chitral to Uzhnu, where a spur of Kurnagah Ach was climbed, which afforded our first survey of the area.

The next stage brought us to Phurgram whence we paid a visit to the Phurgram Col. We pushed forward to Moghlang and into the Noroghikub Gol and the glacier of the same name, also ascending Chamabokht Ter, a 4,700 m. peak in the Yarkhun Range. From this mountain we obtained a splendid panorama of the north-west of the High Hindu Kush, extending from Sararitch over Lunkho, from the Anoshah (Kach) Pass to the Pur Nisini and Ochili Pass. Towards the east, close by our viewpoint, part of the Yarkhun Range could be seen, rising to about 5,400 m.

The Hindu Raj between Shost and Vidinkot. HEIGHT OF KOYO ZOM IS 6,899 M., NOT 6,812M.

The Hindu Raj between Shost and Vidinkot. HEIGHT OF KOYO ZOM IS 6,899 M., NOT 6,812M.

Leaving Phurgram we slowly ascended over broad pastures to the Jhah Jinali (Rich) Pass at 4,200 m. and then on to the Ishperu Dok (Aim). In the course of a single day we traversed the deeply incised and steep Isperu Valley to Shost in the Yarkhun Valley.

The views which we obtained of this to us completely unknown mountain region, increased in magnificence from hour to hour. Each lateral valley on the left side of the Yarkhun river on the way from Shost via Lasht to Kan Khun afforded glimpses of stupendous mountain scenery which reached its culmination on the last stage up to Vidinkot and eastwards.

Between Shost and Vidinkot we climbed three high summits on the right of the Yarkhun Valley (Hindu Kush). We photographed the imposing mountains and glaciers south of the Yarkhun (Hindu Raj).

These panorama were taken jointly by my friend G. Lehner and myself with different cameras and exposures in order to ensure the best possible results.

Description of Mountain Area between Vidinkot and Shost.

I propose to describe this area (see map) because of its isolation, beauty and largely unexplored terrain.

The Yarkhun Valley, which separates the Hindu Kush from the Hindu Raj, is very wide between Shost and Kan Khun. Between Kan Khun and Vidinkot, the valley is generally narrow with alternate wide and restricted sections, mostly entirely filled out by the river. The mountains on the Hindu Kush side to the north rise on an average to heights of between 5,000 and 5,500 m„ whereas the mountains on the Hindu Raj side go up to 6,800 m. The glaciers of the Hindu Kush range are small on the whole, with the exception of the West and East Khushrao glaciers to the north-west of Lasht and south of Koh-i-Baba-Tangi. On the other hand, the ice streams flowing north from the Hindu Raj are of considerable extent.

In all there are nine glaciers flowing parallel to one another from north-west to north down to the Yarkhun Valley between Shost and Vidinkot. From west to east (according to the quarter- inch map) these are as follows: Madit (or Madod), Risht, Shetor, Ponarilio, Kotalkash, Koyo, Pechus, Chatiboi and Darkot. According to Schomberg,10 the last glacier is called Chigar and should not be confused with the Darkot glacier which flows from the pass of the same name to the south. Chigar or Chikar is the name of the last small village on the way up to the Darkot Pass from the north, half-way between Vidinkot and Ishkarwarz. Schomberg also pointed out that he was unable to cross the Yarkhun river east of the Madod glacier.11 It is only possible to cross the river at any time by means of two small bridges at Shost and Vidinkot.


  1. A J., Vol 47, p. 100.
  2. A .J., Vol. 47, p. 99.


On this section of about forty kilometres, the river can only be crossed by fords at low water in two places, to the east of Kan Khun and near the village of Kishmanja (two houses) to the east of the Kotalkash glacier. During periods of high water, the first four glaciers can only be reached from the left bank of the river. If it is desired to visit the glaciers lying to the east, this is only possible by means of the bridge at Vidinkot, or by ford or rubber boat.

If one gains the upper Yarkhun Valley coming from Gilgit over the Darkot Pass (4,576 m.) the left bank is attained. In any case coming either from Vidinkot or from the Darkot Pass, the Chatiboi glacier must be crossed (one or two hours) in order to reach the village of Pechus (Hot Spring) and the mountain and glacier regions lying to the west.

A further problem for all climbs and marches to the east of the Shetor and Ponarilio glaciers is that of porters. To be sure, pack-animals are practicable in the Yarkhun Valley but from the start of the crossing of the Chatiboi glacier these can no longer be used. It would be scarcely possible to site the Base Camp in any of the lateral valleys since owing to the small size of the villages (Pechus, the largest, has only seven houses) porters would be at a premium and while harvesting was under way there would most likely be none at all.

There are three outstanding and first-class peaks to be climbed between the Madod and Chatiboi glaciers, namely Koyo Zom (6,899 m.), Thui I (6,662 m.) between the Kotalkash and Ponarilio glaciers and the giant dome of Thui II (6,524 m.) between the Risht and Shetor glaciers. The name Thui is derived from a glacier and pass lying to the south of the watershed.

We now turn to the area of Darkot Pass-Chatiboi-Pechus and Koyo glaciers, as seen in Panorama 1 (about 4,100 m., covering an arc of 120°).

The outstanding mountain in this section is Koyo Zom, about 6,899 m. Its north face rises abruptly above the glacier of the same name, in a sweep of 2,000 m. Its west face rises just as abruptly above the Kotalkash glacier. This can be seen on Panorama 2 (about 4,100 m. and an arc of 125°). It will be noted that the summit lies to the north of the watershed, from which it is separated by a col.

The most likely spot for an ascent of Koyo Zom is from the Pechus glacier which, like the Shetor and Kotalkash glaciers, still flows into the Yarkhun Valley. This is not the place to enlarge upon the exceedingly interesting morphological and glacio- logical aspect of the area.

At least two or three peaks on the watershed, with heights varying from 6,200 to 6,400 m., can be climbed from the upper section of the Pechus glacier. Like the other glaciers in the area, the Pechus glacier is very crevassed in the central portion and, as access is unlikely by means of the lateral moraines, some effort will be needed in placing the necessary camps.

Another fine mountain is Chikar Zom, about 6,110 m. in height. This peak is a main elevation on the ridge between the Chikar and Chatiboi glaciers. The north-east face is a steep ice-clad slope, about 1,000 m. in height. The easiest route of access would seem to be via the Chatiboi glacier from the top end of which 600 m. of steep and mixed terrain lead upwards to the summit.

There are also several smaller peaks on the watershed between 5,500 and 6,200 m. It would seem possible to traverse here to the Pechus glacier, perhaps even to the south side of the watershed. A fine view should be possible from a beautiful rock peak, 5,815 m. in height between the Chatiboi and Pechus glaciers (Panorama 1).

There are some elevations rising to about 5,500 m. on the ridges to the east and west of the Koyo glacier leading down to the Yarkhun Valley; they are of importance only as regards the views to be obtained from them. There is no doubt that the west ridge would afford a magnificent view of Koyo Zom and Thui I and a fine panorama of the Koyo and Kotalkash glaciers. This clearly isolated point can be seen on Panorama 2. An ascent should be possible from the Koyo glacier to the east. Just before this glacier contracts there is a cwm on the west side, at the furthest extremity of which rises the highest point of this lateral crest.

The next prominent peak is Thui I, which can be seen as a pyramid on Panorama 1. Like Koyo Zom it also has an outlying summit towards the south-west. Seen from the Yarkhun Valley, this mountain appears as a huge trapeze with rock flanks interspersed with ice. Any attempt to climb it from this northern side is likely to be very difficult. The same may be said of the west face which falls abruptly to the Ponarilio glacier. These precipices can be seen clearly on Panorama 2, which also indicates that the north-west face and the south-west ridge of the peak projecting to the south-west (about 6,400 m.) both fall abruptly to the Ponarilio glacier.

The best approach to Thui I is thus from the Kotalkash glacier, the upper portion of which extends the watershed far to the south. The ascent of this peak would probably be via the steep south-eastern ice face. An ascent would be greatly facilitated by placing a camp (ice-cave) below the col between the two peaks.

There are some peaks of about 5,800 m. situated on the ridge separating the Ponarilio and Kotalkash glaciers, which can be seen on the extreme right of Panorama 1. The north-west ridge terminates in Point 5,150 m., shown on Panorama 2 directly above the Yarkhun Valley, with a small ice-field on the north side of the summit. The summit, lying directly behind this, rises to about 5,700 m. and could possibly be climbed by means of the ridge shown in the panorama as descending towards the left (from the north-east to the end of the Kotalkash glacier).

A still higher summit in this group lies further to the south and could be climbed by means of the cwm on the Kotalkash side, clearly shown in Panorama 1.

The ridge separating the Shetor and Ponarilio glaciers attains its culminating point in the 6,204 m. pyramid shown in the centre of Panorama 2. The most northerly summit of this ridge attains an elevation of about 5,400 m. the ice-clad north face of which falls steeply to a small cwm.

It was unfortunately not possible to see the ridge extending further to the south but according to the quarter-inch map it would appear to continue to descend. The final steep rise in the ridge terminates on the watershed at a height of 6,276 m., according to the quarter-inch map. This point should be visible to the left on Panorama 1 adjacent to Thui II.

Herewith some observations regarding the quarter-inch map. Thanks to the friendly co-operation of the Royal Geographical Society in London, I was able to study both the half-inch and the quarter-inch maps. In an earlier article12 I pointed out that I had found the half-inch map very accurate in many places. It is true that there were some errors in the Tirich Mir area and I indicated some grave errors in heights in the above- mentioned paper. Nevertheless I was surprised at the general accuracy considering the small scale of the map (1:253,440). During the cartography of the area, a large number of points appear to have been visited, in order to gain a view into the otherwise concealed glacier valleys. In my opinion a number of minor summits were climbed during the process, so that the term ‘First Ascent' should be treated circumspectly.


  1. A J., Vol. 72, p. 3.


Panorama I : The Hindu Raj : From Near Pechus

Panorama I : The Hindu Raj : From Near Pechus

Panorama 2: The Hindu Raj: From Near Kan Khun

Panorama 2: The Hindu Raj: From Near Kan Khun


Photo: G. Gruber


(Photo: G. Gruber) HINDU RAJ: PTS. C. 5,500-5,700 M. ABOVE RISHT GL.

Photo: G. Gruber


Thui II (6,524 m.) between the Shetor and Risht glaciers is the most westerly of those peaks above 6,500 m. Its huge rock dome dominates these glaciers. Unfortunately the only photographs available are from the north-east and the Yarkhun Valley, as the mountain was always covered by cloud when any attempt was made to photograph it from the west. The mountain rises above the Quelander Gum glacier to the south, which can be reached from Yasin or from the Yarkhun Valley over the Thui Pass. To the west of Thui II lies the narrow deeply incised Risht glacier; it is therefore likely that the mountain also falls steeply from this side as well.

The Shetor glacier lying to the east of the peak, like the Kotalkash glacier, extends into the watershed far to the south. Two small glaciers lead from it towards the west and approach the Thui II massif. The north side of the most northerly of these lateral glaciers is dominated by a ridge which in conjunction with the western boundary of the Shetor glacier and the eastern boundary of the Risht glacier encircles a small glacier basin. The glacier flowing from it is opposite the village of Lasht Some peaks of between 5,400 and 5,800 m. are situated on its western ridge, which is prolonged towards the main summit of Thui II by the striking tile-like structure of the subsidiary summit on its north arete.

The ascent of Thui II will require a strong team and a massive outlay of equipment. In my opinion this will be entirely justified as it is the most beautiful and isolated summit in the Hindu Kush or the Hindu Raj.

The most westerly valley of this section is the Madod (Madit) which terminates in a steep wall. Precipitous hanging glaciers, ice-clad faces and seracs breaking away from the summit, form a scene of extreme savagery. This confluence of descending ice unites in a small, highly crevassed glacier, occupying only the most southerly portion of the Madod Valley.

The easiest point of access should be the most westerly elevation of the ridge overlooking the glacier. Steep ice flanks lead upwards from a small lateral tributary of the main Madod glacier to a Vorgipfel and then along a ridge to Point 5,896 m. The arete continues towards the east in the direction of Thui II with a number of elevations up to 6,192 m. along its crest, but the most southerly portion of the Risht glacier unfortunately could not be seen.

A lateral ridge leading down to the Yarkhun Valley between the Risht and Madod glaciers affords further objectives. In particular there are two fine peaks of about 5,500 and 5,700 m. which attracted our attention.

They rise straight out of the Madod Valley with steep 1,000 m. rock faces (Panorama 3). Their precipitous glaciated north faces falling straight down to the Risht glacier also seem possible of ascent.

There are many other possibilities between Shost and Vidinkot which to date have not been attempted by any expedition. I hope, however, that the account above will act as a spur to future climbers.

There is also some fine climbing to be had north of Phurgram and the Jhah Jinali Pass. The same may be said of the Yarkhun Range which I would consider particularly suitable for small parties. I have no space, however, within the scope of this paper to enlarge upon this any further.

We had a bad accident near Barenis, on the return journey via Mastuj to Chitral. A jeep with eight people on board, capsized into the bed of a stream and my wife and Babu, our interpreter, received severe injuries. As air traffic between Chitral and Peshawar was interrupted owing to low cloud over the Lowarai Pass, the injured had to be transported by jeep from Chitral. As the reader may imagine, the trip from Barenis to Peshawar, which took two and a half days, was both difficult and painful. My wife was flown from Peshawar to Europe, with a stop in Karachi and Babu was taken to the Mission Hospital in Peshawar.

At this point I would like to express my thanks to all those people who rendered us considerable help and support. In particular I would like to mention the Political Agent in Chitral, the Police Chief, Mr. Burhan-u-din, and the staff of the Air Control Office and the P.I.A.

In eight days our VW bus transported my friend Gerhard Lehner and Walter Simonig, a participant of the unfortunate Carinthian Tirich Mir expedition, back to Europe.

In spite of our mishap we hope soon to be able to return to the mountains of the Hindu Kush.

Editor's Note: Dr. Gruber has advised us that in his original article Thui I should read Thui II and Thui II should read Thui I. The map, article and photos have been corrected.

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