Along Tanymas River

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After a very hot 4-day drive from Tashkent, through Dushanbe and Khorog, we reached Murghab in Eastern Tajikistan. Murghab is a rather ugly small town settled in a barren environment. But its people (many Kyrgyz) are very friendly and we stayed in a welcoming guesthouse. From Murghab, a truck drove us to the start of the trek, at a place called Kokjar where Kokjar river flows into Tanymas river. Driving north of Murghab we first followed the so-called Pamir Highway, which eventually leads to the Tajik-Kyrgyz border at pass Kyzylart. After driving 180km we turned to the west on a small dust road that initially follows the Kokujbel river, to eventually reach Kokjar place.

 

Road itinerary from Murghab to Kokjar and back

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Trekking route (black dots). Each square is 2kmx2km

 

Views of Murghab. At the center of the second picture, the white spot in the far background is Muztagh Ata (7546 m), which I had climbed in 2000.

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Loading the truck that drove us to Kokjar

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Small settlement north of Murghab along the Pamir Highway

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Along the way, the Pamir Highway gets very close to the Chinese border (Xingjiang province). This picture shows the fence built (in Tajik territory!) by the Chinese all along the border. The patrol road on the other side of the fence is in better condition than the Pamir Highway. Is this fence intended to prevent Uyghurs from escaping Xingjiang or to prevent Tajiks from invading China?

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Crossing pass Akbajtal pass (4655m). Despite the sun, it was quite cold in the back of the truck.

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About 180km from Murghab we left the Pamir Highway and drove west toward Central Pamir

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Reaching Tanymas river (at the bottom of the wide valley), with river Kokjar on the right-hand side

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Kokjar place, at the confluence of Kokjar and Tanymas rivers

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We put our first camp on the bank of Kokjar river

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The first obstacle next morning was to cross Kokjar river, to follow the left (north) side of the Tanymas valley. There is a spot closer to Tanymas river where crossing is much easier, but we only found it several days later on our way back to Murghab.

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Views of Tanymas valley

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The level of river Tanymas was changing dramatically during the day. Passages along the north bank that were dry and passable in early morning were flooded and impassable later in the day.

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Tanymas river is too wide and too deep to cross. Several times the river grazes the north slopes of the valley, preventing us from hiking in the river bed. We had to climb steep and strenuous talus (in one case, more than 600m) to avoid those sections.

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Peaks on the south side of the upper Tanymas valley

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Although we did not see much wildlife, we observed many traces of it, including these fresh footprints of snow leopards and many horns of mountain goats

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The lower part of the Grum-Grzhimailo glacier

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The valley leading to the Severnyy Tanymas glacier (visible at the bottom)

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The river flowing out of this glacier

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Victor (at the bottom of the picture) trying to find a place where to cross the river, just under the Severnyy Tanymas glacier

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Eventually, Victor created a Tyrolean traverse across the river. However, we were several days late, relative to our planned schedule. I was concerned that we would meet other difficulties later and would not be able to complete the crossing of the Fedchenko glacier on time to reach the Vanch valley on the other side of the glacier. So, I made the (probably misguided, in retrospect) decision to return to Murghab and try to reach the Fedchenko glacier from the Vanch valley.

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A last picture on the way back along Kokjar river, soon before retrieving the truck that drove us back to Murghab

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