Sunday, 12 August 2012

Mountaineering dispatch from Afghanistan

The media is full of Olympic Gold medals, Usian Bolt, earthquake in Iran but while another expedition by NZ's, probably one of the world's best woman mountaineers, goes unnoticed. Pat Deavoll just sent this dispatch from Dushanbe, Tajinistan.

Back in the relative civilisation of Dushanbe after a very eventful, very tough trip to the Wakhan Corridor, Afghanistan. We ended up climbing not our original peak but another first ascent of a peak around 6000m.

This involved a long flight to Dushanbe, a three day drive to the Afghan border, a bit of indecision because we heard there had been Taliban presence in a town near by, but pushed on up the Wakhan, walked into Basecamp at low alt of 3200m with porters, then spent the next seven days packing our gear up the icefall to the neve at 5000m. Hard hard work! Then 10 glorious days in the upper Qala Panja Glacier where we climbed our peak and did lots of exploration along the Pakistan border. Beautiful area that hasnt had a visit in nearly 40 years.

When we made it back to Ishkashim we found there had been alot of trouble across the border in Tajikistan ( a massecre in Khorog, which was very serious) which had resulted in the border being closed. We were stuck- also some Germans. Poles and Australian in the same boat. Had three tense days while we waited for the relative embassies to organise an airlift for us to Kabul. But on the third day we went down to the border to try one more time and by weedling conniving and bribing, the border police allowed us across, and we left straight away for Dushanbe.

A very worrying experience with makes you realise how powlerless you are in a situation like that and how far from home. Many thanks to the NZ Ambassador to Afghanistan, Justin, for his support and organisaton of the airlift which fortunately we didnt need in the end. He was the star of the day!

Home on Tuesday.......  
I love this posting on FB by Pat in July.  " Such are the trials of international travel...
After making a glorious departure from Christchurch yesterday evening, we sat on the tarmac waiting for fog to lift in Auckland long enough to miss our connecting international flight to China. Next available flight.....Tuesday!
So we have made an ignominious retreat back to Christchurch to await Afghanistan Take 2!"

I spent many years in Afghanistan and know the Wakhan, Khorog, Dushanbe and most of Tajikistan well, and dealt for two and a half years with the Taliban, so I can understand to a certain extent, what Pat and her team have been through. Brilliant expedition, brilliant achievement.

Here is an posting I did on Pat and Christine's climb last year.

If you want to know more about Pat Deavoll, read her riveting book, 'wind from a disatnt summit' published by craig potton publishing.

Latest update from pat when she returned to Christchurch.

Finally back in NZ after a long haul back from Dushanbe and a fantastic but eventful trip in Afghanistan. Troubles in tajiistan something of a worry and information available at this site Khorog is such a lovely small university town in the mountains - but makes me aware of how lucky we are to live in such a peaceful country as NZ and that we have the ability to travel and make first ascents in the the Hindu Kush-wot could be better! I hope the new wave of NZ mountaineers can see past the one pitch wonders on offer in NZ and head for the Greater Ranges for the experience and adventure on offer.

We have all arrived back with various degrees of illness- brother Bill the worst having lost 10 kg over the five weeks and today on an IV drip at the doctors and under scrutiny as to just wot exactly he has wrong with him.

Sad we had to miss such a fantastic Olympics but these things dont register in Afghanistan ...but so exciting to hear NZ did so well. Not so good that the darling Spot has two failing kidneys and is not well at all- just a matter of time.

I have nothing but admiration for Pat and her team as it is a difficult aprt of the world for expeditions, especially with the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan and Tajikistan.

Congratulations to you all!

Koh-e-Rant from the village of Qala Panja in the Wakhan Corridor. Maryrose Fowlie and i climbed this in early August. Photo: Pat Deavoll. (hope you don't mind me using this Pat?) 


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