THE JURM VALLEY MOUNTAINEERING EXPEDITION, 1973
DR. ARTURO BERGAMASCHI
THE Jurm valley, surrounded by a mountain range, bordered to the east by Pegish valley, to the west by Dr. e Urgente Bala, to the south by the wonderful Kotgaz Glacier, has been neglected by mountain expeditions for several years, and only in 1972 was reached for the first time by an Italian expedition, the "JURM 72" from Padua
. The reason for this may depend on the fact that it is a very small valley, about 20 kilometers long and 2 kilometers wide, and that it does not have big massifs. The opening of this valley, some ten kilometers from Kash- kandyo, at about 2,700 meters, is far from encouraging. The passage here gets narrower, so that a strong wind often blows raising the thick sand and causing real sand storms. It often looks more like Sahara Desert than Hindu Kush. Venturing through this valley, even the first few hours of march may become dramatic. The heat is almost infernal, one gets knee-deep in the sand, there is no water at all.
Only at 3,100 metres the situation changes completely, there is no more sand and to the south you can see, like a mirage, some wonderful mountains: Kohe Staza and charming Kohe Urgunt, 7,038 metres high.
The quick melting of the snow had increased the level of the streams, the water was muddy everywhere, even when emerging from the glaciers. In the cold weather the situation improved slightly. Only here and there we could find sources of pure water. We came across three from the beginning of the valley upto the Base Camp at 4,250 metres, (two days' march). We also passed two small villages, the second one inhabited by Mongols, at 3,850 metres.
Of all the mountains of this valley, only Pegish Zom I had been climbed until 1971: in 1968 from the south side, that is from Kotgaz Glacier, and in 1970 from Pegish valley.
When, in July 1972, the "Jurai '72" expedition from Padua was able to fix the Base Camp at 4,250 meters, they found the best conditions for getting excellent results. Special attention was given to the south part of the mountain range, where rises the highest Peak, Jurm, quoted 6,000 meters in the Linsbauer's map.
When I thought of organizing my third expedition, I turned my attention to the Hindu Kush, and close to Dr-i-Sar Sha- khawr
valley, on the suggestion of Dr. A. Diemberger, and - as an alternative - should any difficulties arise, the Jurm valley, which - from the report of the Padua expedition - showed some interesting aspects to be explored.
The expedition, which had the support of the Italian Alpine Club and of the Commune of Bologna, Italy, consisted of: Dr. Arturo Bergamaschi (leader), Dr. Achille Poluzzi, (medical doctor), Gilbert Bertolani, Gianni Calza, Benito Modoni, Alziro Molin, Guerrino Sacchin, Nando Stagni and Gan Carlo Zuffa.
The expedition left Bologna on 30 June, 1973, and reached Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan by plane on 1 July. We needed three days for going through the necessary procedures to get the visa for Wakhan corridor; then we reached the Shakhawr village by car in five days. The arrangements with the carriers were difficult from the beginning, notwithstanding the excellent efforts of our interpreter, Mohammad Qasem Ammadi. We went on discussing for several hours; the little old man that looked like the leader was irremovable: 4,000 lire per day and no horses, which had been formerly promised. We thought the price was too high and said we would get carriers from other valleys if they did not cut it. They answered all together that no man should set foot in their valley. We then decided to go to Pegish, hoping to find there more handy carriers. We were welcomed almost cheerfully, though the carriers definitely refused to go to Sar Shakhawr, while they were willing to go to the Jurm valley for 140 lire per kilogram. We were able to fix the Base Camp in the Jurm valley, at 4250 meters, on 12 July, in the same spot as the one used by "Jurm '72" expedition.
On 14 July we started our mountaineering activity. Molin, Stagni, Bertolani, and Zuffa attacking Pk. 293 A and scaled it at 2.00 p.m. Its name would be Kohe Chatral, 5500 meters. Meanwhile Poluzzi, Sacchin and Modoni reached White Coat Peak, Kohe Shal-e-Safid, 5450 meters (second ascent). was besl was the maj \ my kh< an wh son
On 16 July, Molin Poluzzi, Bergamaschi, Sacchin and Caiza attacked 293 B Peak, quoted 5320 meters and called Kohe Kha- nen, reaching it at about noon.
Very early on 17 July, Zuffa and Stagni left Camp I (at 4850 metres) aiming for Pk. 294 A. We consider this peak as district from Pk. 294, since it is separated from it by a saddle with an enormous crevasse, that proved impossible to cross this year. After going through Jurm Glacier and climbing two saddles, from 5200 to 5300 meters high, and along rocky ridge with "penitentes", they reached the peak at about 2-00 p.m. This peak was listed as 6080 meters.
On 21 July, two parties left Camp II, (at 5100 meters); Sacchin, Poluzzi, Bertolani and Bergamaschi, who tried to reach Pegish Zom I from a completely unexplored side, as first Italian climbers to it; while the other party, consisting of Zuffa and Calza, tried Pk. 295. Both parties succeeded in reaching their aim, and late in the evening they were back at Camp II. 295 Peak was listed as 5910 meters and was called Peak of the Republic - Kohe Jam- lioriat.
On 23 July, Stagni reached Kohe Shal-e-Safid (third ascent), and reached Pk. 286 A, Peak of the Peace - Kohe Solhtalab (5430 m.), and 286 B Peak, daughters of Joy Peak, Kohe Bachai Sohl Safid (5420 m.) - first ascent.
The last climbs took place on 25 July with the second ascent of Jurm I (6000 m.) and the first ascent of Pk. 287 A. Jurm was climbed by Modoni and Stagni, while Pk. 287 A was climbed by Poluzzi and Zuffa, who estimated it at 5450 meters and called it Peak of Liberty - Kohe Asadi.
On 2 August, we were again at Kabul.
These were the mountains climbed by us on the whole:
1) n. 286 A - Kohe Solhtalab, 5430 m.
2) n. 286 B - Kohe Bachai Sohl Safid, 5420 m.
3) n. 287 A - Kohe Asadi, 5450 m.
4) n. 293 A - Kohe Chatral, 5500 m.
5) n. 293 B - Kohe Khanen, 5320 m.
6) n. 294 A - Kohe Pegish Jurm, 6080 m.
7) n. 295 - Kohe Jamlioriat, 5910 m.
8) n. 282 - Kohe Jurm I, 6000 m.
9)) n. 286 - Kohe Shal-e-Safid, 5450 m.Third ascents:
10) n. 294 - Kohe Pegish Zom I, 6269 m. from an unex plored side.
11) n. 286 - Kohe Shal-e-Safid, 5450 m.
Note: We noted some difference of altitude between our measurements and the one given in the Linsbauer's map, for example, the Jurm I is 5800 m. high according to our records, while the Linsbauer's map states 6000 m. We could not check on Pegish Zom I altitude.
Conclusions: The Jurm valley, which can be rightly called the valley of the Italians, after the "Ciy of Bologna'' expedition, does not show special mountaineering problems. Still to be climbed are: Pk. 283 and Pk. 284 that form a very sharp crest frozen on the Jurm side and with persistent danger of rolling stones, and of very brittle rock in the Urgunt Bala side. Neither are interesting from a mountaineering point of view.
Pk. 293 is a small elevation, at approximately 5100 m. and of no interest. As to Pks. 302, 301, 300, 299, 298, 297 and 296. Only Pk. 296 of about 5900 m. and Pk. 297 may be of some interest. It is impossible, however, to climb them from the Jurm side because of the frightful falling of stones, while it is easy from the Pegish side covered with snow and free from this danger.
The rock of this valley is of met amor ohic sedimentary constitution and contains a lot of pyrite, mica and rare crystals of quartz. Also a layer of sulphur was found. Unlike the other valleys of Hindu Kush, the Jurm valley has practically no trace of granite.
See H. J., Vol, XXXII, 1972-73.
Preferably spelt Shakhaur -Ed.