OverviewNoshaq Peak, Afghanistan's highest peak, is currently accessible from the Afghanistan side through the Wakhan Corridor - a safe part of Afghanistan which has seen an influx of western tourists over the last few years (ensure you check the current Security situation). This is an easier climb than from the Pakistan side and is relatively simple to get to Basecamp.
First climbed by a Japanese team in 1960, and hosting the first winter ascent of a 7000m+ peak in 1973, it has rarely been conquered since. The remoteness, logistical difficulty and decades of conflict have all combined to ensure the mountain has been lightly trodden. Forgotten for 25 years, it was again climbed in 2003 by a team from the association Mountain Wilderness International. This was the first step in training locals to become fledgling guides, realised by the 2009 successful ascent for the Afghan “Tigers” (4 Afghans trained in high altitude guiding. 2 reached the top in 2009).
Getting ThereAccess to the Wakhan Corridor is via Taikistan. Turkish Airways and Air Baltic fly to Dushanbe, the Capital. It is then a 2 day drive down the corridor to Ishkhashim and the Afghan border. In the town of Ishkhashim there are fledgling business designed to help organise logistics and transport for adventurous travellers.
From Ishkhashim it is a two hour drive to Qazi Deh, the town where the trek to basecamp starts. The trek up the valley to base camp (4660m) can be done in two days. It is essential to have local guides at this stage as there is a legacy minefield in the valley which you will want to avoid.
You will need a multiple entry Tajik Visa, which you can get in Tajik Embassies abroad. You will also need a GBAO permit, which you can get at Embassies or in Dushanbe.
For Afghanistan you will need a single entry visa, which you can get in Embassies abroad or in Khorog in Tajikistan on your way to the border. You will also need a Wakhan Permit, organised in Ishkhashim which will take a day of bureaucracy.
Route DescriptionFrom Basecamp (4660m) after acclimatisation, the route follows the North West ridge and can be done with either 3 or 4 camps depending on preference. The route is a relatively simple ridge climb, with only one small technical rock step, which is an easy climb for anyone with rock experience.
The route from the Afghanistan side has been described as having some of the best potential in the world for people who wish to climb a high, non-technical peak. As such it is open to a individuals who wish to test themselves on a serious mountain, but may not have the technical climbing experience to do so.
External LinksSome great press coverage of a 2011 summit by a team from the World Conservation Society:
Daily Telegraph Article
WCS Press Release
The story of the Afghans who made it to the top in 2009
Great information on the Wakhan Corridor here:
July/August 2012 Expedition
General press coverage on the Wakhan Corridor
Time Out London
New York Times