THE GREAT GAME

Great Game

The Great Game

“ For 50 years the British had struggled north through the mountains subduing the people of one valley, allying themselves with the people of the next, establishing hill forts, killing and being killed: all for the sake of pushing the frontier north and keeping the Bear at arm’s length. Yet when , in 1895 the border was finally settled, the British officer in charge of its demarcation could write: it is a matter of indifference to all exactly where the line is drawn. While of the Russians, who for half a century had been such bogeymen, he could write, They are grand chaps…. I cannot conclude without acknowledging both the excellence of their mapping and the warmth of their hospitality… I have nothing but the most pleasant memories of our alliance in the field, It is certainly pleasant to record that when the players in the Great Game at last met face to face, they became the best of friends , saying here we were received with the most courteous of hospitality, and the foundation there and then laid for that feeling of good fellowship between the two camps which never afterwards was broken, a great deal of vodka was drunk that night “
In the north on the Wakhan corridor the Pamirs merge into the Hindukush , where they are still being born, still thrusting up at the rate of something like two-and-a-half inches a year. Yet in the very moment of their birth, they are dying, for the ranges to the southeast are rising even faster and each year are blocking off more and more of their already inadequate rainfall, converting their already barren slopes to desert. This is one of the bleakest and least-known corners of the world , remote, mysterious and at one time, dubbed ‘the third pole’. The Pamir mountains, which Afghans refer to as the ‘Roof of the World,” extend into Tajikistan, China and the Karakorums. In Wakhan these mountains are rounded domes, divided by high, wide valleys which are very nearly as desolate as the peaks that surround them.
Criss-crossing the frontiers Hindukush Trails explored the wakhan corridor in the early nineties when the Russians were leaving. This was a time when no explorers were in the area, except for old maps of the Great Game there was nothing new available and on a piece of paper we drew our own maps and explored from Sarhad to Ishpetkis over Qarabil 4600m , Perigundy 4918m to Khuch Guz Banaras . Then crossing the chalap river right up to the end of the corridor to Aq su , turning at the Qarajol sha river down to Bozai gumbaz and wakjir river on to irshad Owin 4925m Or along the Oxus river crossing the Lashkargah , Alisu and many small rivers to the source of Victoria lake retracing over shawar pass 4892m and Qarabill 4600m to Sarhad and back to Gaz Khon .Criss crossing the desolate Wakhan corridor many times we encountered only Marco polo sheep and ibex and the nomads. Our explorations started from the Boroghil pass or the Kan Khun pass the Dorah pass or through Gazikistan and Nuksan pass on adventures shared at times with a few friends like Frith Mier , or Dr Hirai Go or Nick Danziger or wandering on our own.

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