26/06/2010

Return Jiptik Pass





After having to change the itinerary of the Pamir Alay trek (due to snow expectations and insufficient border permit) I took off with 35kg on the back. Following the course of Ak Bar Suu the green rolling hills suddenly change in jagged, snowcapped mountains. The river is big this time of the year and brown coloured due to all the soil that's being disposed. The map showed a number of side rivers, but dispite the large amounts of rainfall no side river to be found. I struggled with the weight of the backpack, and water was running out. Just before dusk I found a place to stay with a Kyrgyz farmer and his daughter. The legs, shoulders and hips hurt...

The next stage was going up gradually. I passed villages that result inevitabily in invitations for tea. People are very generous and hospitable. The last bit of dirt track goes up steeply and finally I walk into the wide valley of Kojo Kelen. The first inquiry about places to stay was a lucky shot: the lady is the English teacher of the village and invites me to stay. The family is clearly rich: lot's of land, big house for themselves and many beautiful blankets. The meal later that night (a rice meal called plov) was excellent. Her husband teaches me to pray muslim prayers. May come in handy some time...

Day 3 was going to be a tough one. The plan was to camp at 3200 metres which means an altitude gain of 1100 metres. After Kojo Kelen the track narrows and not long after there's no habitation anymore. Alpine marmots announce my visit, yaks are lazing around on the jailoos (summer pastures) and the 4000m peaks become clearly visible. Man, there's a lot of snow on the summits. I climb up to 3200m and pitch the tent. Finally I get to sleep in my nice little crappy Chinese tent. And then it started raining, pooring I should say. Is the tent going to hold or not? The rain remains for a good 12 hours and the inside of the tent is completely dry. Sweet! I spent my time talking to myself until I fall asleep.

The next morning is dry. Without a pack I'm walking up the path to have a look at the pass. Last night tons of snow were dumped on the higher bits of the surrounding mountains. The path up the pass is invisible. It would probably mean a lot of ploughing through deep snow to get to the other side. I decided to go back: being alone and carrying a rucksack that's very heavy was to much risk to make an attempt. I descended 1400 metres and stayed another night with another family. The next day I took an early morning taxi back to Osh. Back to cold beers and juicy sashlicks. Things would turn out slightly different...





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