[Reprinted by kind permission of the O.A.Z. (Volume 1370— March /April 1970) and the author, and translated by K. K. Guha—ED.]


AMONGST the main mountain groups of the Hindu Kush between Sad-Istragh and the Kan-Khun Pass, and the Hindu Raj range of the upper Yarkhun valley, the Buni Zom group is one of the most prominent mountain areas of Chitral.

The group around the main summit covers only a small area of about 15 by 15 kilometres. It is bounded by the Mastuj river in the north between Buni and Mastuj ; by the Laspur river in the east between Mastuj and Rahman; the side valley (Phargam Gol) which branches off at Rahman to the west towards the Phargam An (Pass) makes for the southern border and starting from the Phargam Pass the western border passes over different ridges to the north, and meets the Mastuj river again at Buni. The geographical co-ordinates, 72° 15' to 72° 30' east and 36° 05' to 36° 15/north, outline this area. To the west of this line various small valleys approach the group, the biggest is the one from Reshun. But they all end in the very steep northwestern and northern detritus of the group.

South of the line, which is formed by the Phargam Gol, the Phargam An and the Golen Gol, lie the Sohnyoan, Golen, Rinzho, Shiak, Shachiokuh, Ishporili and Lohigal glaciers each with their mountain areas beyond. Some of these peaks (Ghochhar Sar, Shachiokuh Zom . . .) are over 6,000 metres. This southern area is bounded from Sor Laspur by the neighbouring Laspur valley in the west and by the Golen valley in the north-west. It is proposed to call this mountain area, which by the way has been visited by Herbert Tichy in 1959, by Pinelli in 1966 and by a group of Alpinists of the Graz section of the O.A.V. led by Heinz Badura in 1968, the southern Buni group. The mountains south of Laspur and Thalo Gols lie within the borders of Dir and Swat Kohistan.

Approaches to the Buni Zom Group

The easiest possible entry is by the Phargam Gol, because the group is bordered by a mountain range in the west, and in the north and east by deep gorges.

From 2,800 metres at the mouth of Laspur river the path rises only slowly till 3,000 metres at Phargam, then swings in a steep rise (old moraines) up to 3,700 metres, passes the moraines of the side-glaciers, which are moving into the main valley, while rising slowly to 4,000 metres at Kulakmali. Once upon a time the Khorabohrt glacier from the north and the Sohnyoan glacier from the south used to meet here—today the wide cones between the huge boulders offer an ideal place for a Base Camp.

There are two main approaches to Rahman. One goes from Peshawar over Dir and the Lowarai Pass to Chitral. It is better to hire a jeep from Dir to Chitral rather than going in one's own car, which is possible nowadays depending on the type of car. The danger of accidents is very great because heavy rainfall has washed away parts of the road from time to time.

From Chitral to Maroi, Reshun, Kuragh and Buni, the road is jeepable in fair weather. Early in the year, one can motor only up to Maroi. Then one needs 5 to 7 days from Chitral to Rahman. From there one can reach Kulakmali in one day.

Another alternative to this route would be to branch off into the Golen valley before Maroi and reach Kulakmali direct over the 5,056 metres high Phargam Pass. One would need about 5 days for this. But days can be saved if one travels light. At one time this pass was well maintained and pack-animals could be used, but now it is only possible to trek with porters. This route is worth while for those who want to climb mainly in the Golen valley and around Kulakmali.

The second main approach to the Buni Zom group is from Swat. It has the advantage, that one can go in one's own car through Swat and Kalam up to Paloga. From there, one treks with porters over the 4,700 metres high Kachikhani Pass (see map) to Sor Laspur and Rahman and can avoid the expensive jeep journey. By this route one reaches Kulakmali in 5 to 7 days also. The porters have to be changed at Sor Laspur which does not create any problem. I used this route in 1965 and found it far better than the Chitral route. First of all because of the landscape of Swat Kohistan with its beautiful terraced pastures, mountain sides full of flowers, blue-green lakes and huge trees one reaches the steep south face of the Kachikhani Pass—this stretch can also be negotiated by porters. The descent to the north over the flat glacier slopes then gives hardly any difficulty.

The Northern Buni Zom Group

The northern Buni Zom group has three big glaciers. These are, from east to west, Phargam, Gordoghan and the Khorabohrt.

The first (probably the most favourable route to Awi Zom) ends above a 150-200 metres high rock step north of the village Phargam. Overcoming this rock obstacle may create considerable difficulties.

The Gordoghan glacier ends at the higher reaches of the Phargam valley. Its young moraines partially cover this valley. The glacier is not difficult to climb.

The Khorabohrt glacier ends above a rock cleft which rises north of Kulakmali. While going up one finds to the right (east) a groove cut into a wall of rock which provides the way to a moraine-covered rock-terrace. One follows this groove to climb about 500-600 metres, leaves the groove after passing a narrow passage to the left and mounts the glacier over steep moraine slopes which branch off to the west.

The Khorabohrt glacier has at the height of about 5,000 metres a further basin which is bounded by a ring of magnificent mountains.

In picture ‘A' we can clearly see the ridge of the glacier in the south-west. Its eastern cornerpillar has a height of about 5,880 metres and can be climbed from the glacier over the flank and ice-ridge. At the right side of the picture we find the 6,000 metres high Chaqri Zom, which was climbed in 1967 by members of the Tokyo University of Agriculture from the Golen valley.

North of Chaqri Zom is Point 5,954 metres which was attempted during our exploration in 1965 by my colleagues Hanns Schell and Dr. Herfried Gamerith. A snow gully leads from the glacier to the top. In this snow gully, at about 80 metres below the top, the climbing had to be abandoned at that time.

The northern boundaries of the Khorabohrt glacier continue past Khorabohrt Zom (5,850 m.), climbed in 1965, and the Panorama Peak (5,690 m.), towards the west ridge of the Bum Zom North peaks. Further north we find a sharp break.

The eastern boundary of the Khorabohrt glacier comprises thr following mountains from north to south: It starts with the north peak of Buni Zom (6,337 m.), climbed in 1957 and 1965 (O.A./, . Vol. 1345, and yearbook of the O.A.V., 1966, p. 115). Separai^ by a notch and rising to the south is the main peak of Buni Zom (6,551 m.) also climbed in 1957. An excellent picture of the peill by J. R. G. Finch appears in the H.J., Vol. XVII, 1952, p. 116.

The steep walls and ridges of the Buni Zom Main peak descent I on all sides. Very remarkable is the west ridge.

In picture ' C', Point 6,220 metres can be recognized as a wldlp ice-ridge at the top righthand corner side. The sharp peak the left is the Buni Zom Main peak covered by Buni North stretched out in front of it.

Let us turn at the same time to the other peaks at the north end of the group in the picture. Very often the two peaks ‘Mam' and ‘North' of Buni Zom, are designated as Buni I. I believe it would be better to leave this figure for the Main peak and to call the north peak as Buni Zom North. The peak lying to the east of this mountain and which is visible in picture ' C' was called Buni II (O.AZ.r Vol. 1345) by the Munich Alpinists while climbing in 1965. It has a height of 6,147 metres according to the quarter-inch map. Now one has to watch out. In picture 4 Cto the left (east) next to a small pass rises Buni III (6 050 m) It had no designation until it was climbed in 1967 by the Oberpinzgau and Zell am See sections of the O.A.V. Further to the left of Buni III (in the picture) rises a small ice-peak. It has not yet been climbed (6,100 m.) and should now be called Buni IV. At the eastern end of this ridge is Awi Zom (6,484 m.) (earlier called Buni IV), which can be seen in picture ‘D’taken from Sor Laspur in the south. South of it, at the eastern side of the Phargam glacier, we find another peak of 6,179 metres (earlier called Buni V) and one more of 5,837 metres.

I believe it will be better to stop the numbering with Buni IV since Awi Zom has a name anyway. In the sketch-map of the 1967 exploration report the Oberpinzgau and Zell am See sections of the O.A.V. shows another peak probably lying between Buni IV and Awi Zom. This peak could therefore be called Buni V. In picture 4 Chowever, no distinctive rise is notable, but it may well be hidden by the eastern pillar of Buni IV. South of Awi Zom lies Point 6,179 metres, which could probably be called Gasht Zom after the name of the village in the Laspur valley.

Also on the ridge from Buni IV moving south between Gordo- ghan and Phargam glaciers are some peaks around 6,000 metres, such as the point marked on the sketch map without height (because it is more or less unknown, but rises between 6,000 metres and 6,100 metres) south of Buni IV. Next is the important peak already mentioned and climbed by the Oberpinzgau team in 1967, the Rahman Zom of 6,350 metres (in another reference we find its height marked 6,300 metres, O.A.Z., Vol. 1360, p. 106). Even further to the south stands Gordogham Zom (6,240 m.) climbed in 1965 by the Munich team under the guidance of Schurer (O.A.Z , Vol. 1345).

On the mountain cirque surrounding the southern branch of the Gordoghan glacier which runs north-easterly we find two more points of 6,048 metres and 5,829 metres, both of which have not been climbed till today.

The Southern Buni Zom Group

Through the Phargam Gol in the north, separated from the main Buni Zom group, lies a steep ridge, whose southern sides descend to the Rizhun Gol. Its main peak Point 5,909 metres (picture ‘E') breaks off steeply on all sides. The most favourable climbing possibility should be from the west, from the lower part of the Sohnyoan glacier.

A long glacier basin opens from Kulakmali towards the south. It comprises the Sohnyoan glacier, which ends flat without any gradation. The Sohnyoan glacier is the main glacier in this area and can be easily recognized in picture ‘B’ taken from Panorama Peak (5,690 m.) and shows the Khorabohrt glacier in the foreground. The ridge on the left-hand side of the picture leads to Point 6,220 metres, and off the glacier on the right one can see again as in picture 4 Athe Point 5,880 metres, which as mentioned above has probably the most favourable route from Sohnyoan glacier.

On the eastern side of this glacier several peaks rise up to 5,700 metres. In the south one can make out clearly the wide glacier pass of 5,250 metres, but crossing into Rizhun Gol is difficult.

At the southern end the Sohnyoan glacier has a wide salient towards the west. The southern boundary comprises a ridge which exceeds 6,000 metres in several places. Its eastern cornerpillar (directly to the right above the wide glacier-pass) is Point 6,116 metres according to the half-inch map. According to my calculations from the Panorama Peak (O.A.V., yearbook, 1966) it is only 6,000 metres and the next mountain is 6,080 metres. This mountain is not shown in the above-mentioned map. Perhaps a change in the position of the two points has to be considered. The mountain still further to the right (west) on the rock walls should be 6,068 metres, against a previous measurement of 5,950 metres.

To the right of this mountain we find an ice-peak, whose northeastern ice face can be seen (picture ‘B'). It is Shupel Zom, 5,917 metres, which was also climbed by the team of the Tokyo University of Agriculture in 1967 and on their map marked at 6,000 metres. This map shows a great number of inaccuracies. For example, it is not recognized that the Khorabohrt and Sohnyoan glaciers are two different ice-streams. It draws a single glacier, which stops at the previously mentioned glacier pass (5,350 m.) and named Buni glacier.

Shupel Zom was climbed from the Golen glacier as well as over its right ridge.

The ridge between Golen and Sohnyoan glaciers goes further to the north over the Shupel Zom East peak (5,923 m.) (according to our measurement it is estimated at 5,950 metres within the indicated limits of accuracy) and Point 5,556 metres to the Phargam Pass. This area is also noticeable in picture ' B’The Shupel Zom East peak is directly visible under the Point 6,080 metres. The deep rock notch in front of the ice-peak west of the Khorabohrt glacier (Point 5,880 m.) is the high Phargam Pass (5,056 m.).

The ridge north of Phargam Pass shows some more peaks. Near Chaqri Zom next to Point 5,630 metres there is the particularly fantastic peak of about 5,800 metres shown in picture 'F’ which attracts attention from Kulakmali.

Makho Zom (c. 5,00 m.) which rises on a side ridge was also climbed by the Japanese in 1967 (O.A.Z., Vol. 1360). Picture ‘B' shows on the left side in the background two remarkable peaks. The ice-peak in the far background is probably Point 5,871 metres on the border ridge of Swat Kohistan (west of Kachikhani Pass).

Further to the right a wide, trapezoidal ice-peak attracts our attention. It is probably Point 5,802 metres which rises over the Rizhun glacier. I cannot say for certain which are the mountains to the right of the Rizhun glacier directly above the pass at the end of the Sohnyoan glacier.

The mountain range coming from Point 5,950 metres (6,068 m.) and going further to the south-west is united near the Andowir Pass with the Lawarai range and the border range (Swat Kohistan/Chitral) coming from the east. The Lawarai mountain range has some more peaks which are nearly 6,000 metres or higher. It is mostly the area around the Ishporili and Shachiokuh glacier. Two of these peaks, the 6,249 metres high Ghochhar Sar and the 6,215 metres high Shachiokuh Zom (at the southern end of the Shachiokuh glacier), have already been climbed, first by Pinelli, who states a height of 6,145 metres (1967, O.AZ., Vol. 1360), the Hindu Kush expedition in 1968 of the Alpinist Group of Steiermark under Badura has during the second ascent of the mountain expressed certain doubts. This group also climbed Shachiokuh Zom, Ishporili Zom (between Ghochhar Sar and Shachiokuh Zom) and Haramboi Zom (5,821 m.) south of Thalo Gol. But I do not want to elaborate here, because this group

View from the Eastern end of Khorabhorat glacier showing point 5,880 m. and Chaqri Zom

Picture A

Photo : G. Gruber

View from the Eastern end of Khorabhorat glacier showing point 5,880 m. and Chaqri Zom

Looking South from Panorama peak. On the right is point 5,880 m. The Sohnyoan glacier is a third of the picture away from the left

Picture B

Photo : G. Gruber

Looking South from Panorama peak. On the right is point 5,880 m. The Sohnyoan glacier is a third of the picture away from the left

View from the North of the Buni zom group, from a point on Noghor zom, west of the Zani pass

Picture C

Photo : G. Gruber

View from the North of the Buni zom group, from a point on Noghor zom, west of the Zani pass

View from the North of the Buni zom group, from a point on Noghor zom, west of the Zani pass

Picture D

Photo : G. Gruber

AwI zom(6,484 m.) at the western end of the Phargam glacier, as seen from sor Laspur

View from the North of the Buni zom group, from a point on Noghor zom, west of the Zani pass

Picture E

Photo : G. Gruber

Point 5,909 m. lying South of Phargam gol, seen from a point below Gordoghan glacier

View from the North of the Buni zom group, from a point on Noghor zom, west of the Zani pass

Picture F

Photo : G. Gruber

Point c. 5,800 metres Lying on the ridge between the Phargam pass and Chaqri zom, as seen from Kulakmali

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