OUR principal aim was to climb in the Qadzi valley, an area not previously explored by a British party, and to make an ascent of Noshaq (7492 m.), the highest mountain in Afghani¬stan and second highest in the Hindu Kush after Tirich Mir We hoped to put up a new route on Noshaq by the North fact¬or the East ridge from Shingeik Zom, but access to both these climbs lies across Pakistan territory and permission for this was not forthcoming from the authorities. In addition, we were partly sponsored by the Chest and Heart Association to carry out a medical research project investigating renal functions at high altitude, with specific reference to the relevance of the kidney in acclimatization and in the causation of pulmonary oedema. This project had been prepared by our expedition doctor, Arnold Pines.
After the customary confused price-haggling session in Qadzi deh, fast-moving Tadjik porters rushed us in two days up the long barren valley to our Base Camp at 4550 m. on a scree shelf above the dead ice of the Qadzi Deh glacier and below a spur of Gumbaze Safed. Instead of starting to build up Camps on Noshaq Immediately, two lesser peaks were first climbed as day outings. Kharposhte Yakhi (5698 m.), a straightforward glacier trudge, rewarded us with magnificent views of the region as well as close up head-on prospect of the route up Noshaq. Two days later Rakhe Kuchek (5300 m.), a rock peak culminating in a long Jagged ridge marked by five summits, gave Roberts an exhilarating climb despite a tedious approach. A rock rib was ascended to the ridge, the two main tops then traversed with impressive 11 nations on the exposed crest above the northern precipices, and steep snow couloir used for the descent. This was the first sole ascent and traverse of the mountain.
Next day we stocked our camps on Noshaq. To reduce the amount of equipment required at each camp, we operated in two groups always a camp apart. Camp 1 was established at 5400 m. on the west spur which was climbed to the short rock barrier at about 6750 m. Camp 2 was pitched on a rock platform at 6300 m. well below this crux section which had been simplified by an earlier expedition abandoning their fixed ropes. A rising ledge system led up the rocks to a wide snow plateau where we sited camp 3 (6900 m.). After being trapped two days by a howling storm that ripped the outer tent, Gil Harder and Eric Roberts climbed the technically easy flank to the west shoulder and then followed the long snow ridge over the Central peak (7400 m. ) to the main summit. The highest point (7492 m.) lies inside Pakisthan, the Central peak being the Afghan summit. Among the sea of mountains stretched out all around nothing compared with the towering mass of Tirich Mir.
Meanwhile Pines' research experiment had been carried out. Each person had to collect five urine specimens per day (if produced!) and keep a precise record of food as well as liquid intake for later comparisons. While this might appear an elementary programme under normal circumstances, collections in a storm at 7000 m.under freezing conditions requires considerable mental effort and will power. On the lower slopes of the mountain the specimens were preserved in the snow to prevent their temperature rising to four degrees above freezing point, the maximum level it which they would not spoil.
We used a few spare days at the end to climb Aspe Safed I (6507 m.), an elegant snow peak, by its north ridge from a bivouac camp at the head of the Qadzi Deh glacier. From the summit cone the east face fell away sensationally to the crevasse-riddled Upper Tirich glacier.
To preserve our urine specimens during the return journey to Kabul, ice blocks were cut out from the glacier and used as packing. Fortunately, extra porters turned up to carry down the heavy containers after justified protests about their weight. Back in Kabul, permission to export our 'suspect' precious specimens was only granted after time-consuming visits to the Ministry foreign Affairs, the Ministry of the Interior and finally the Police headquarters!
Members: Dr. M. Casey, G. Harder, G. Pagani, Dr. A. Pines, E. Roberts (leader) and Dr. S. Simpson.
3-8-1974 Kharposhte Yakhi (5698 m.)—Poland glacier-Harder, Pagani, Roberts, Simpson
5-8-1974 Rakhe Kuchek I (5230 m.) ___ —Traverse-Roberts
5-8-1974 Rakhe Kuchek II (5300 m.) ____ —Traverse-Roberts
17-8-1974 Nnshaq Central peak (7400 m.)
17-8-1974 Nnshaq Main peak (7492 m.) —West spur-Harder, Roberts
22-8-1974 Aspe Safed I (6507 m.)—North ridge-Roberts, Simpson