Afghanistan Reopens Mt. Noshaq

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Great news for mountaineers today, as National Geographic is reporting that Mt. Noshaq, the tallest peak in Afghanistan, has reopened to climbers. The mountain has been off limits for decades due to its location inside an unstable region of the country, but over the past few years, the area has once again became safe for travelers.

Noshaq is located in the Hindu Kush mountains along the border with Pakistan. It towers 7492 meters (24,580 ft) above the Wakhan Corridor, a strip of land that has been a historical trading route between Afghanistan and China. It was first climbed back in 1960 by a Japanese expedition, and an all Afghani team reached the summit in 2009, but due to the political upheaval in the area, it has remained mostly off-limits for outsiders in recent years.

According to Nat Geo, a Wildlife Conservation Society team launched an expedition on Noshaq in the last week of July, and topped out on August 4th. They were the first foreign team to summit since before the 1979 Soviet invasion. Access to the area was further hindered in the 1990’s thanks to massive numbers of landmines being set across the region during the Afghan civil war. That has all changed now however, as American forces have secured and cleared the area, making it safe for travel once again.

The hope is for this area to become a spot for adventure tourism to flourish, and in the past it was a popular destination. Afghanistan is hoping to overcome perceptions that the region is not safe however, but when they do, they believe that Noshaq and other mountains in the area will become a favorite of climbers looking for new challenges.

Update: Apparently there have been a few other climbs up the mountain and the source material from Nat Geo didn’t mention them, including a successful climb in 2003 that put four climbers on the summit.

Kraig Becker

10 thoughts on “Afghanistan Reopens Mt. Noshaq”

  1. Wow. I bet it is amazing there but still a little scary to think about actually going. Hopefully we will see some other people's photos and trip logs in the next few months. Nice article.

  2. The website doesn't list any French climbers. All Afghans from the Nosaq region. Perhaps it was the film crew that followed along wit them?

  3. Actually, the narrative is not accurate. There have been a number of foreign expeditions which have succeeded on Noshaq since 2003, starting with Carlo Pinelli's expedition “Oxus, Mountains for Peace in Afghanistan.” From 2007-2010 there were four ascents of Noshaq. In the autumn of 2007 Iranians Mehdi Amidi and Azim Qeychi-Saz became only the second group of climbers to reach the summit in nearly 30 years. In mid July 2009, Amruddin and Malang, two Afghans from the Wakhan who had undergone training in Chamonix, reached the summit with French guides Jean Annequin and Simon Destombes. In 2010 there were two ascents. James Bingham (UK), Bill Lyden (USA), and Mark Wynne (UK) reached the summit on July 21 from a high camp at 7,100m, while on August 29 it was the turn of more Iranians, Husain Asghari, Amin Moein, Gholam Nodehi, Mohammad Rafiei, H.Reza Sanjari and Iraj Taheri, who topped out just 17 days after arrival at base camp. All climbed via the “standard” west ridge.

  4. It is great to see you highlighting this year's ascent of Noshaq. I was in the Wakhan this summer with the WCS team just before the climb, and it was great to hear they got to the top. The publicity is crucial for the region to develop its considerable tourism potential – one of the only realistic sources of sustainable and growing income. As a result of these successful ascents and on the back of successful commercial treks in the region, I believe are running an expedition to climb Noshaq in July 2012.

  5. Hi I'm Giorgio Mallucci, the technical director of Mountain Wilderness expedition to Noshaq in 2003 "Oxus, Mountain for Peace".In that year 4 people reached the top of the Mountain!!!!! and It has been the beginning of a big project with the local people…as you probably know. I ask you to correct the inaccuracies of the article.

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