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.


For photos along the road to Khorog along the Panj river (taken during my 2009 trip to Tajikistan), click here.


Road itinerary from Murghab to Kokjar and back.



Topographic map: road access in green dots, trekking route in red dots.


High plateau between Khorog and Murghab.


Arriving in Murghab.



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






Loading the truck that drove us to Kokjar.


Leaving Murghab on our way to Kokjar.


Small settlement north of Murghab along the Pamir Highway.


Along the way we had to stop several times to add oil in the truck engine, or to do some other repairs.


At some point the Pamir Highway gets very close to the Chinese border (Xinjiang 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 so-called Tajik Pamir Highway. Is this fence intended to prevent Uyghurs from escaping Xinjiang or to prevent Tajiks from invading China?




Approaching Akbajtal pass.


Despite the sun, it was quite cold in the back of the truck.


Crossing Akbajtal pass (4655m).


About 180km from Murghab we left the Pamir Highway and turned west into a dust road toward Central Pamir.







Victor at the back of the truck.


Another stop to add oil to the engine.


Talking with herders along the way.


Approaching Tanymas river.



View over Tanymas river and the smaller Kokjar river. The so-called ″Kokjar place″ is at the confluence of the two rivers


We put our first camp at ″Kokjar place″ on the bank of Kokjar river. In the evening we made the first cut into a big (and heavy) wheel of cheese that we had brought from Dushanbe.


Sunset over Tanymas river seen from the camp.


The first obstacle next morning was to ford Kokjar river, in order to follow the left (north) side of the Tanymas valley. There was a spot closer to Tanymas river where crossing was much easier, but we only found it several days later on our way back to Murghab. For this first traverse we had to use a rope. Here, one of our porters crossing.


Our porters after fording Kokjar river. They did not look very happy because one of them had lost a good amount of bread into the river.


Initially, there were some trees and grass along the river, but not for very long.



Views of Tanymas valley further up.




Side valleys.



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.


Often we could not find clear water. This is the kind of water we could get from Tanymas and side-rivers.


Tanymas river is too deep and wide to ford. On several long sections the river grazed the north slope of the valley, forcing us to climb above the river bed. As the slope above the river was often cut by deep ravines we had to contour these ravines by climbing steep and strenuous talus (in one case, more than 600m).




Downstream views (toward the east) of the Tanymas valley.



Views of the southern side of the Tanymas valley.





The riverbed seen from above.


Peaks on the south side of the upper Tanymas valley.





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



The lower part of the Grum-Grzhimailo glacier.


The valley leading to the Severnyy Tanymas glacier (black ice visible in the center of the photo).


The river that flows out of this glacier.



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


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, instead, try to reach the Fedchenko glacier from the Vanch valley.


A last picture on the way back along Kokjar river, soon before retrieving the truck (ordered by satellite phone) that drove us back to Murghab.



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