Traverse of Turkestan range ― South-West Kyrgyzstan (2011)

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The Turkestan range lies at the remote south-western end of Kyrgyzstan, on its border with Tajikistan. It boasts a wide diversity of spectacular sceneries, including sharp peaks rising above 5000m, large glaciers, huge granite walls, green lush valleys, and deep gorges. I had made two previous trips to this range, in 2004 (Aksu peak and Karavshin areas) and 2005 (Matcha area). My goal in 2011 was to ″connect these dots″ and traverse the entire range from its western end near the village of Andarak (located a dozen kilometers south-west of the small town of Isfana) to its western end at the village of Zardaly (located on the Sokh river, south of the Uzbek Sokh enclave). I did this traverse with Maksim and Slava, two Russians who live in Tashkent. I had already traveled with Maksim in 2005 and 2010, and with both Maksim and Slava in 2008. They are terrific companions and guides, and have become good friends over the years. The logistics for this trip was organized with the help of Boris Karpov in Tashkent (Boris had helped me on all my previous trips to Central Asia) and Aksai Travel in Bishkek. All the topographic maps shown below were provided to me by Boris Karpov.

 

Slava, left, and Maksim, right, on Minteke glacier.

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Location of the Turkestan range, in red box:

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Approximate itinerary below: on foot in red, by car in blue (more detailed maps will be shown for each ″leg″ of the traverse, see links below). The distance between two vertical black lines in this map is 42.5 km. We did the traverse in 23 days. We had initially arranged two food deliveries by horses, one below Aksu peak and the other in Kshermish valley. Amazingly, both deliveries were done right on time.

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The description of the traverse is divided below into 7 ″legs″. This break-down is quite arbitrary and mainly determined by the size of the files.

 

Leg 1: From Andarak to Sarkat valley and back to Sary-Kyngoy valley (July 9-12).

Leg 2: From Sary-Kyngoy valley to Aksu valley (July 13-17).

Leg 3: From Aksu valley to Karasu pass (July 18-20).

Leg 4: From Karasu pass to Djaupaya valley (July 20-22).

Leg 5: From Djaupaya valley to Shirovsky glacier (July 22-25).

Leg 6: From Shirovsky glacier to Kshermish valley (July 26-28).

Leg 7: From Kshermish valley to Kan village (July 29-31).

 

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