Traverse of Turkestan range ― South-West Kyrgyzstan (2011)
Leg 1: From Andarak to Sarkat valley and back to Sary-Kyngoy valley (July 9-12)
We started our trek a few kilometers south of Andarak, a village located south-west of Isfana at the foot of the Turkestan range, near the south-western border of Kyrgyzstan with Tajikistan. Our plan was to cross Maran pass (marked 1.10.18 on the map below), south of Andarak, to reach the valley of the Sarkat river, then to follow the Sarkat river eastward, before proceeding further toward Uram pass (1.1.59), also called Prohodnoy pass (see leg 2). However, we found the upper gorge of the Sarkat river impassable, at least without very serious rock climbing, for which we were not equipped. So, we backtracked, crossed back the mountain ridge at Sarkant pass (1.10.16). In the valley below this pass we found a car to drive us to the valley of the Sary-Kyngoy river further east. From there our goal was to reach Uram pass by another itinerary (see leg 2).
(Black vertical lines in the map are distant by 9.5 km.)
Ascending Maran pass (3260m), the first pass of the trip.
View of the valley below the Turkestan range from Maran pass. Andarak is the dark green area in the upper middle of the photo.
Maran pass is a smooth, easy pass. Its climb was a good way for us to both acclimatize and get used to our heavy backpacks.
Some high peaks of the Turkestan range on the Kyrgyz-Tajik border, as seen from Maran pass.
The valley of Sarkat river (looking toward the east).
Slava crossing Sarkat river.
Shepherd′s hut in Sarkat valley. Next photo: me with its resident at that time, Nosirjon, a very nice fellow who will help us a lot two days later by carrying our backpacks to Sarkant pass on his horse.
From this hut we moved up (toward the east) along Sarkat river.
Later we passed by two small lakes, a green and a blue one. Both have crystal clear water.
The green lake.
The blue lake.
Maksim navigating among the boulders above the blue lake.
The upper valley of the Sarkat river, just before reaching the ″impassable″ gorge.