Himalayan Journal vol.35
The Himalayan Journal
Vol.35

Publication year:
1979

Editor:
Soli S. Mehta
Index
  1. EDITORIAL
  2. THE STORY OF THE HIMALAYAN CLUB, 1928-1978
    (JOHN MARTYN)
  3. FIFTY YEARS RETROSPECT AND PROSPECT
    (TREVOR BRAHAM)
  4. THE PASSANRAM AND TALUNG VALLEYS, SIKKIM
    (DR EUGEN ALLWEIN)
  5. NANDA DEVI AND THE SOURCES OF THE GANGES
    (H. W. TILMAN)
  6. THE MOUNT EVEREST RECONNAISSANCE, 1935
    (ERIC SHIPTON)
  7. THE SHAKSGAM EXPEDITION, 1937
    (MICHAEL SPENDER)
  8. GANGOTRI TRIANGULATION
    (Major GORDON OSMASTON)
  9. EVEREST, 1976
    (MAJOR M. W. H. DAY, R.E.)
  10. LHOTSE, 1976
    (KANJI KAMEI)
  11. THE SECOND ASCENT OF LHOTSE, 1977
    (DR HERMANN WARTH)
  12. MAKALU, 1976
    (ANDERS BOUNDER & OTHERS)
  13. THE CLEAN-UP TREK, 1976
    (MICHAEL CORDELL)
  14. THE THIRD KOREAN MANASLU EXPEDITION, 1976
    (JUNG SUP KIM)
  15. THE HONGKONG KANJIROBA EXPEDITION, 1976
    (DICK ISHERWOOD)
  16. AVALANCHE ON SISNE, 1977
    (R. A. L. ANDERSON)
  17. DHAULAGIRI IV, 1975
    (KUNIAKI YAGIHARA)
  18. NORTH SIKKIM, 1976
    (HARISH KAPADIA)
  19. NANDA DEVI FROM THE NORTH, 1976
    (H. ADAMS CARTER)
  20. NANDA DEVI SANCTUARY - A NATURALIST'S REPORT
    (LAVKUMAR KHACHER)
  21. A BOTANICAL SURVEY IN THE NANDA DEVI SANCTUARY, 1974
    (N. C. SHAH)
  22. AN ATTEMPT ON NITALTHAUR, 1974
    (MANIK BANERJEE)
  23. CHAMRAO GLACIER EXPEDITION-1977
    (M. DEY)
  24. CHIRING WE, 1977
    (HARISH KAPADIA)
  25. KINNAUR-1976
    (LIEUTENANT-COLONEL BALWANT SANDHU)
  26. BLACK PEAK, 1976
    (MANDIP SINGH SOIN)
  27. NILAMBAR EXPEDITION, 1977
    (RANVIR SINGH)
  28. POLISH K2 EXPEDITION, 1976
    (JANUSZ KURCZAB)
  29. A CRAWL DOWN THE OGRE
    (DOUG SCOTT)
  30. ISTOR-O-NAL NORTH I, 1976
    (RONALD NAAR)
  31. THE ASCENT OF SHERPI KANGRP 1976
    (PROF. KAZUMASA HIRAI)
  32. AFGHAN DARWAZ, 1975
    (RYSSZARD W. SCHRAMM)
  33. SWISS THUI EXPEDITION, 1975
    (DR ADOLF DIEMBERGER and HANS SCHIBLI)
  34. CLIMBING SHERPAS OF DARJEELING
    (DORJEE LHATOO)
  35. OF MOUNTAINS & MEMORIES
    (SITU MULLICK)
  36. EXPEDITIONS AND NOTES
  37. OBITUARIES
  38. BOOK REVIEWS
  39. LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
  40. CLUB PROCEEDINGS, 1976
  41. EXPEDITIONS 1975-1977

AFGHAN DARWAZ, 1975

RYSSZARD W. SCHRAMM

THE expedition of six persons of the Mountaineering Club of Poznan (leader-Prof. R. W. Schramm, and members- Jerzy Nowak, Tomasz Schramm, Slawomir Stachowiak and Marek Zierhoffer from Poznan, as well as Jerzy Mitkiewicz from Zakopane) visited the mountains of the Afghan Darwaz in the summer of 1975.

The mountains of the northern Afghanistan, situated north of the Ishkashim-Zebak depression and next to the Wardudj-- Kokcha valley, belong from the geological and geomorphological points of view to the Pamir, together with which they were formed. Nowadays they are separated from the proper Pamir by the narrow valley of Abe Panj, which here forms the frontier between Afghanistan and the U.S.S.R. As regards the administration, the region is a part of the Afghan province of Badakshan. In the very northern part of the region lies the sub-province of Darwaz, which enjoys a fair amount of autonomy. This area is a relic of the southern part of the ancient semi-independent petty state of Darwaz, situated on both sides of the Abe Panj. The administrative centre of the Afghan Darwaz is the little resort of Nesay.

The mountains of Badakshan in this big bend of Abe Panj do not form distinct chains: there is rather a complex tangle of mountain knots crossed by deep valleys of rivers and streams, often difficult ones to cross. The most outstanding one of them is the valley of Darya-i-Shewa, over a hundred kilometres long. The whole area can be divided into four pretty distinctly separated regions (see Map). First, the region of the western upland at an average height about 3000 m above the sea level, devoid of a real alpine character (I); in this region also the higher Darya-i-Shewa dale can be included, forming practically a separate morphological unit (la). Secondly, the region of the mountains of Safed Khers (south) and of the Afghan Darwaz (north) (II). Thirdly, the region of the Shewa mountains (III), and fourthly, the region of the Lai (Wal) mountains (IV). The last three regions have a distinctly alpine character and cover in all about twelve thousand square kilometres. In this area, which is equal to roughly one-twentieth of the area of the Alps rise, according to a superficial estimate, several hundred peaks over 4000 m high, and among them more than two hundred peaks over 4500 m and more than twenty peaks over 5000 m high. Both from the alpinistic and the scientific point of view all this region is almost completely virgin. Only in the surroundings of the Lake Shewa (Shignon) some small scientific expeditions, mostly geographical and geological ones, have operated : Italians in 1937 and 1951, the French in 1959, the Swedish geologist K. Lindberg in 1959 and I960, and the Japanese in 1960 and 1972.[1] In 1970 a five-membered Polish expedition from Warszawa arrived in the region of Lake Shewa and its members climbed six 4000 m peaks there.

The Poznan expedition flew with its 400 kg luggage by an aeroplane of the inner-Afghan lines Bakhtar from Faizabad (Faydzabad) to a dirt airfield at Darwaz (about 1650 m). From there with a caravan of donkeys taken from the village of Radoj the expedition proceeded up along the Jaway Darrah, Kaj Darrah, and Hast Darrah rivers. On the third day the expedition reached the lateral valley of Abe Jod. The river Jaway-Kaj-Rast Darrah on its stretch of about 37 km from the mouth of Abe Jod stream to its outfall to Abe Panj drops over 1500 m, which makes nearly 41 m per km. During the march of the group one of the pack- donkeys fell by accident into the river and was drowned with all its luggage, which contained all the ice-axes and a considerable amount of petrol ; the accident considerably affected the expedition's activity. The Base Camp was installed at the confluence of the two branches of the Abe Jod valley at the height of 3500 m.

At the beginning of the activity in the mountains two auxiliary camps were set up in both branches of the valley. Within the first few days several peaks were climbed, among them the second highest peak in the whole Afghan Darwaz, 5324 m high. The activity in the mountains was stopped by heavy snowfall on 22 and 23 June. During the days following the snowfall a reconnaissance was made of the two neighbouring valleys : Abe Asp in the south-west and Abe Jay in the north, and two more peaks were climbed. From 26 June onwards the activity in the Abe Jod valley was continued. Towards the end of the stay two members of the expedition visited once more the Abe Jay valley climbing four more peaks in its northern branch. The mountain exploration was finished on 3 July, and next day the expedition descended to the Rast Darrah valley.

The expedition resulted in climbing fifteen peaks, among them five being over 5000 m, and eight over 4500 m high ; four of them were also traversed. Five big passes and several minor ones (see list) were crossed. The loss of ice-axes caused the members of the expedition to give up some more difficult ice-climbing ; that loss was also largely responsible for the failure to scale the highest peak of the Afghan Darwaz, 5326 m, named Kohe Beland by the expedition, which means the Lofty Mountain. For the same reason also the range of difficulty of the climbed peaks did not exceed I to III degrees, and only in some individual cases, as indicated on the list, was it higher.

In the whole area in which the expedition had been active, only two mountains and one pass had local names, namely Safed Koh (5135 m) (meaning the White Mountain) and Kohe Kuz (5131 m) (the Lower Mountain), as well as Kotale Kuz (the Lower pass). The climbed peaks and passes and some other important ones, as well as some glaciers, have been given their names in the Persian language (Farsi), an effort having been made to fundamentally retain the local character of the names. The maps were drawn on the basis of the Afghan map (1:250,000) which had been prepared using aerophotographs and published in 1960. The detailed altitudes were taken from this map, as well as from hand-made sketch from an Afghan map (1 : 100,000). Some altitudes which were obviously wrong have been put right, which has been indicated in the description of map 2. For drawing the sketch-maps our own angular measurements, sketches and photographs were made use of.

The expedition gathered rocks and minerals and samples of soil and litter for a study of the soil fauna, as well as some specimens of selected invertebrate groups (arachnids, myriapods). The rocks have been identified by Prof. Wojciech Grocholski from the A. Mickiewicz University in Poznan. as old-crystalline epimeta- morphic phyllitoid-green schists and phyllitoid quartzite schists. On their crack surfaces appear so-called 'desert varnishes' of mananganese and iron hydroxides. This type of rock constituted the main substance of the massifs of Kohe Jod and Kohe Jay. At the entrance to Abe Jay valley a thick layer of white marble occurs. The minerals, which were taken mostly from the local people, have been determined as actinolites with a small addition of asbestos, tremolites and antophyllites, all being related to ultra alkaline serpentine marbles, which, however, were not found within the area of the expedition's activity. Some garnets, pyrites, and samples of lapis lazuli were also found. The zoological samples have been given for scientific analysis to Prof. Jan Rafalski from the A. Mickiewicz University in Poznan,

I am grateful to Mrs Jadwiga Pstrusinska, of Kabul, and Mr Jerzy Wala, of Krakow, for valuable consultations concerning problems of the population and for linguistic (J. P.) as well as of onomastic (J. P. and J. W.) advice, I am also indebted to Prof. Wojciech Grocholski of Poznan for geological consultation and for the identification of the samples of rock and minerals.

List of the peaks and of the important passes successfully climbed by the Poznan Mountaineering Club Expedition to the Afghan Darwaz Mountains, 1975

Peaks :

1.Kohe Bacha-c. 4560 m: S. Stachowiak and M. Zierhoffer, 19-6-1975.

2.Akher Barabar-c. 4100 m (tip of the long ridge of the Rakhe Barabar, Kohe Jod Range), traverse of several crags : J. Nowak, 19-6-1975.

3.Kohe Makhrut-c. 5295 m : S. Stachowiak and M. Zierhoffer, 19-6-1975.

4.LKola-i-Syah--5324 m : S. Stachowiak and M. Zierhoffer, 19-6-1975, (IV).

5.Kuta-i-Askar-c, 4280 m: R. W. Schramm, 20-6-1975.

6.Qolla-i-Iw-c. 4600 m : S. Stachowiak, 24-6-1975.

7.Kohe Shakhsi-c. 4715 m : R. W. and T. Schramm, 25-6-1975, traverse.

8.Aina-i-Barfi-5316 m: S. Stachowiak and M. Zierhoffer, 27-6-1975, (IV-V).

9.Kohe Haram-5212 m : J. Mitkiewicz and J. Nowak, 29-6-1975,

10.Qolla-i-Khord-c. 4600 m : R. W. and T. Schramm, 30-6-1975, traverse.

11.Safed Koh-5135 m : R. W. and T. Schramm, 2-7-1975.

12.Kohe Sirodj Din-c. 4950 m: R. W. and T. Schramm, 2-7-1975.

13.Kohe Dokan--. 4900 m : J. Mitkiewicz and J. Nowak, 2-7-1975. (The spot altitude indicated on the official map is 4950 m).

14.Qolla-i-Ew (Kohe . Ara Gharbi)-c. 5000 m: M. Zierhoffer 2-7-1975.

(The spot altitude of the central highest peak of the Kohe Ara -Qolla-i-Sakht indicated on the official map is 4960 m.)

15.Kohe Putek-c. 4820 m : R. W. and T. Schramm, 3-7-1975, traverse.

Passes :
1.Kotale Pes-c. 4920 m : J. Nowak and T. Schramm, 21-6-1975.

2.Kotale Dulaha-c. 4600 m : R. W. Schramm, 21-6-1975.

3.Kotale Shakshi-c. 4670 m : R. W. and T. Schramm, 25-6-1975, traverse.

4.Kotale Bad-c, 5000 m: J. Mitkiewicz, J. Nowak, R. W. Schramm, and. T. Schramm, 27-6-1975.

5.Kotale Famil-c. 4650 m : R. W. and T. Schramm, 1-7-1975.


[1] I have no information about any other expeditions.

J. Schramm on the summit of Kohe Putck. In the background is Kola-i-Syah.     (Photo: R.W. Schramm)

J. Schramm on the summit of Kohe Putck. In the background is Kola-i-Syah. (Photo: R.W. Schramm)



The north face of Zange Khord, from the Karai glacier.

The north face of Zange Khord, from the Karai glacier.



Safed Koh from the SW.

Safed Koh from the SW.