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Overview - Fannsky Gory - a brief Overview
The Fannsky Gory (Russian for Fan Mountains - sometimes also Fann Mountains) are situated in Tajikistan (near the border to Usbekistan). The Fan Mountains are a part of the Gissar-Alia mountain range, which is a subrange of the Pamir.
The highest peak of the Fan Mountains is Chimtarga 5489m - south of the Kulikalon Lakes. Around Chimtarga are a lot of the 5000m peaks of the Fan Mountains (Energia, Zamok, Mirali, Chapdara etc.)
Limestone with extensive screes are characteristic for the Fan Mountains. Glacieres are above approx. 3500m typically on northern slopes; The glaciers, that reach lower altitude are usually covered with scree and rocks.
Back in the times before the fall of Iron Curtain the Fan Mountains were very popular for mountaineers from "Eastern Block Countries". Several Turbaza's or Alplager have been built (A few are still in use).
Getting There and Getting Around
First choice of transport is by air. To avoid the hassle at the Uzbek-Tajik border - flights to Dushanbe are worth to be considered.
Flights via Samarkand are an possible alternative with the drawback of the border hassle at the Uzbek - Tajik border. According to rumors (in 2010+11) border crossing (Uzbek - Tajik) near Samarkand is closed for Western tourists. Samarkand is one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world - prospering from its location on the Silk Road; UNESCO inscribed the 2750-year-old city on the World Heritage List in 2001). Amongst others the Registan and Bibi-Khanym Mosque are famous Tourist attractions in Samarkand.
Samarkand - The Registan
Samarkand - The Registan
Getting Around - Pre-Arranged Travel
Trekking Agencies offer transport to remote areas. The Trekking Agencies offer support for obtaining the Visa.
Getting Around - Local Transport
The local mini buses are a cheap alternative. Transport to remote areas might be difficult.
In remote areas it is quite easy to hitchhike (and to stop any vehicle). Make sure that the driver knows where you want to go - btw. the drivers will expect some kind of remuneration for the ride.
Red Tape (Visas, Border Crossing, Registration etc.)
Visa, Border Crossing Information is from 2008
Usually visas are required for Tajikistan and/or Uzbekistan. A Letter of Invitation (LOI) might be necessary to obtain a visa for Tajikistan and/or Uzbekistan.
Regulations for getting visa differ depending on which citizenship you hold.
The Uzbek - Tajik border crossing are a reflection of the the current state of political relations (quite often poor) between the two states - so sudden problems (delay, closures) may occur (often caused by the Uzbeks).
Registration ia a legacy of the Soviet era. The place to register is an OVIR office - usually this is done by the trekking agency, that also helped you with the visa support (Letter of Invitation etc.).
Mountaineers are obliged to pay an environmental fee - usually this is handled by your trekking agency.
The mountain passes at the Uzbek - Tajik border have been land-mined. It is recommended to avoid these areas.
Climate - When to Climb:
Winter are mild and long, due to avalanges higher regions are not accessible.
The mountaineering season is usually June to September, when the weather is stable, warm and dry.
Fresh Snow on Chapdara
Accommodation - Places to Stay - Camping
Alplager, Turbaza etc.
As mentioned before some former Soviet Alplager (e.g. Alplager Artush, Iskander-Kul) are still in use and also private run camps (Alaudin) offer some basic accommodation.
Alplager in Shing Valley
AFAIK are the two Alplager in the Shing Valley (Marguzor Lakes) no longer in use. Penjikent is the entry point for a visit of the Marguzor Lakes.
The Alplager Artuch is AFAIK still in use. A side road leads from the road Penjikent - Ayni via the village Panrud and Artush to the Alplager Artuch.
In the Pasrudadaria Valley (reached from the Ayni - Dushanbe road) is the privately owned Alaudin Camp
Alplager Iskander Kul
The Alplager Iskander Kul is AFAIK still in use.
If camping close to settlements ask the locals if it is ok to camp at that place - especially at lower altitude, near farmed land.
Problems may occur, when pack animals try to graze near farmed land or compete with the donkey owned by locals.
Trekking - Backpacking
Trekking - Backpacking
The Fan Mountains is a beautiful trekking destination. Several trekking routes starting at several trailheads (e.g Artush, Alaudin Camp, Iskander Kul, Marguzor Lakes) are possible. A lot of passes are traversable by packing animals (btw. IMHO not all 1a passes are traversable by packing animals).
It might be possible to hire pack-animals (usually donkeys) with ther owners/handlers, although hiring might be difficult especially on short notice.
Do not rely that the donkey drivers have knowledge of areas remote of the valley they live.
btw.: The daily hire costs rose quite dramatically within the last years.
Surkhob Pass Ascent
Mountaineering - Climbing
Back in the times of the Soviet Union the Fan Mountains were the playground for mountaineers behind the Iron Curtain. Some Alplagers (or Turbaza's) are still remain and in use.
The summits in the Fan Mountains offer hard climbs (rock, mixed and ice) but also easy climbs.
A link to summits and route descriptions will follow in the link section.
Basic food (like dried apricots, noodles, rice, soups, fresh fruits and vegetables etc. ) is available in the cities like Samarkand and Dushambe but it might be difficult to find (AFAIK there is a supermarket in Dushambe). Lightweight expedition food is not available.
Bread and dairy products (cheese, kefir) might also be available in the mountains, but I wouldnot rely on that.
Bazaar in Samarkand
Due to the high livestock not only overgrazing is a problem at the alpine meadows but also the quality of the water suffers. As a result water purification is highly recommended.
Environmental Impact, Rubbish and Conservation
You will find a lot of old (and unfortunately also recent) rubbish (and toilett paper) at several campgrounds.
The local inhabitants (and also guides and donkey handlers) still cook with campfires, which reduces the slow growing juniper trees even more (and intensifies soil erosion).
There is no organized mountain rescue service in Tajikistan. In case of an accident mountain rescue is a do it yourself business. There are a few helicopters available but usually they insist on payment in advance (so insurance is essential).
Medical treatment is rather limited in Tajikistan - any serious injuries should be treated in Europe.
Books, Maps, Links etc.
Books & Maps
Fann Mountains (Map and Guide) by EWP
Central Asia by Lonely Planet
Durch das Fan-Gebirge und den Pamir by Ulrich Henrici