Location – Mountain Badakhshan Autonomous Region, Jirgatol district. Junction of the Academy of Sciences and the Peter I mountain ranges, in the north-west part of thePamirs.

Transportation – by helicopter from Dushanbe or Jirgatol, by car to Devshar village in Jirgatol district and then on foot.

The most famous tourist and mountaineering object in the Pamirs is the highest peak in the whole CIS – the 7,495m Mount Communism, which was renamed Ismoili Somoni Peak in 2000 in honour of the 10th century founder of the first Tajik State.

It was discovered in 1928 during a Soviet-German research expedition and for some time was called Stalin Peak. It was renamed Communism Peak in 1962. A group from the Tajik-Pamir research expedition climbed the highest peak in the former Soviet Union for the first time from the Bivachny glacier in 1933. E. Abalakov completed the climb on 2 September. Until 1962 Soviet mountaineers were the only ones who had made the ascent to the peak. Englishmen were the first foreigners to climb it. The best way for tourists and mountaineers to get to the peak area is by a 30 – 40 minute helicopter flight from Jirgatol airport. Tourists are transported to the village by vehicle or by air from Dushanbe. The most convenient places for high-altitude expedition bases are in the upper reaches of the Fortambek glacier, where nature has created two places suitable for this purpose.

These are the Suloev and Moskvin glades, which lead to relatively simple and safe routes to the nearest and highest peaks in the Pamirs – Ismoili Somoni Peak and Korzhenevskaya Peak (7,105m). The Suloev glade is located 4,100m above sea level, in the pocket of the left moraine of the Turamys glacier (source of the Fortambek glacier). A medical and biological expedition of the Tajik SSR’s Academy of Sciences, which studied the problems of the adaptation of living organisms to the alpine conditions, worked on the Suloev glade in 1971 – 1977 and established two permanent houses.

Mountain climbers from the “Stormy Petrel” sports society established a reasonably simple way of climbing to the Pamiri glacier snow plateau (a fairly even 12km plateau at a height of 6,000m) and further to Ismoili Somoni Peak along the one of the mountain ridges. Since that time it has been known as “Stormy Petrel’s ridge”. In the 1980s, a shorter route to the Pamir glacier snow plateau was established from the Walter glacier along “Borodkin’s ridge”, and the mountaineers’ centre slowly moved to another glade: the Moskvin, where the Alp-Navruz base camp is now located. The camp is situated in a sub-alpine zone 4,200m above sea level, on the eastern terrace at the junction of Walter and Moskvin glaciers (eastern tributaries of the Fortambek glacier), and it is the most convenient starting point for climbing Ismoili Somoni Peak and Korzhenevskaya Peak because of the ease of access to it. The glade near the Moskvin glacier (total area of about 10 hectares) is fairly safe from rock falls or avalanches.

There is a small spring-water lake on the Moskvin glade, 4 two-bed, shielded, warmed tents where the camp administration is located during the seasonal period, 11 two-bed houses made of wood and aluminium for mountaineers and tourists, a communication centre, a canteen, a shower, a sauna and other facilities. When necessary, tarpaulin tents are set up here. The main source of electric power on the Moskvin glade is a diesel generator. Natural gas provides heat for cooking. Iron tanks with diesel fuel and containers with natural gas are delivered by helicopter from Dushanbe. There is also a convenient helicopter landing-ground here.

At present there are two ways of delivering people, shipments, and food to Moskvin glade: by helicopter from Dushanbe (flight time – 1.5 hours each way) or a 350km drive to the east of the capital, along the Vakhsh, Surkhob and Muksu rivers as far as Depshar (near Jirgatol), and then a 7-day walk to the final destination – through four mountain passes (Belkandov, Irgay, Tamosha and Kuray Shapak) along the northern ridge of the Peter I range, accompanied by porters specially trained in mountain conditions. At present, the camp functions on the Moskvin glade for only two to three months (July-September). The rest of the time it is not operational due to the difficulty of access and severe climate conditions (freezing temperatures, wind, snow, and altitude).

Leave a comment