The history behind. Who has been there? What has been done?

Wakhan Corridor received visitors from as early as 518AD. Son Yun, the Chinese Emperor’s Ambassador upon arriving in Wakhan; “After a walk of one thousand and hundred forty Li we reached the kingdom of Vakhan. All around were heaped numberless great snowy mountains. From far they seemed to be peaks of silver and jade.”  


Centuries later the same snowy mountains attracted trekkers and mountaineers to that, still very much, virgin territory. As a Russian mountaineer Vladimir Ratzek once rhetorically asked "Why would one wish to travel on foot in this uninhabited mountain region with its hazards of sudden blizzards, avalanches, rockfalls, crevasses, accidents, sunburn, frostbite and all forms of high-altitude illness?".


Before Soviet Invasion, in "the Golden Years" of mountaineering in Afghanistan main target were first ascents on the highest peaks such as Noshaq and other 7.000ers followed by the high 6.000ers like Baba Tangi. Following the easiest way of access, from West slowly to the East, from Hindu Kush into Afghan Pamir, mainly Big Pamir.

In 1960 first ascent of Noshaq was completed by a Japanese team followed by a Polish expedition. In 1963 an Austrian team set up a new route from North West. Till 1977 several more expeditions reach the summit.


All this came to a sudden end with Soviet Invasion in 1978 and the following civil war for more than 25 years. The Soviet Afghan war and then the Taliban regime brought isolation to the region from the rest of the world. First climbers started to come back in 2003 when an Italian team lead by Carlo Alberto Pinelli made a first ascent of Noshaq in 25 years. The team also explored a number of valleys south from Panj river which a detailed account can be found in the book C.A. Predan and G. Pinelli, ‘Peaks of Silver and Jade‘, 2007.


further read:

A. Diemberger, "Die bergsteigerische Erschließung des Wakhan", in: Karl Gratzl et al. "Hindukush, Österreichische Forschungsexpedition 1970", 1972

H. Badura, "Die bisherige bergsteigerische Erschließung im Grossen Pamir"

in: R. Senarclens de Grancy und Robert Kostka, "GROSSER PAMIR, Exploration 75", 1978

C.A. Pinelli "Noshaq", in: AAJ 2004, pp. 344-346.