We quickly realize how hearty things are at the base camp of Pik Lenin (that’s how it’s spelled here in English). A large tent serves as a canteen and of course almost all other guests are already standing in line in front of the buffet when our group arrives punctually at 7 pm for dinner. Some spend here already weeks and acclimatize themselves in full board between the base camp and different higher situated intermediate camps. To these they haul up provisions on several days. They are supported by horses and Sherpas. Almost all of them have the same goal in mind. They want to be on the 7,134-meter peak of Peak Lenin when the weather conditions are favorable.
The names of the Pamir peaks still recall the legacy of the Soviet Union, and in 2019 there is nothing to suggest a Russian war of aggression in Ukraine. Alpine groups from Russia and Ukraine are peacefully preparing only an attack. The summit of Pik Lenin is to be conquered – and all of them have a surprisingly big hunger. Peak Communism is the highest Pamir peak at 7,495 meters and the second highest, Peak Lenin, is in front of me as it is hit by the last rays of the day’s sun.
Summit of contrasts
The scenery could not be more contrasting. While batteries are being charged at Basecamp and the full moon rises over the mountains, the thin plume of smoke from the stoves fired with cattle dung rises from the yurts of the frugal Kyrgyz nomads. I tuck myself into my thick down sleeping bag with the intention of getting up early.
At dawn, the gentle high mountain landscape with hills and small lakes captivates me. In the distance the Tien Chen mountains can be seen and behind me the glacier-covered Pamir giants. Horses graze sporadically and occasionally a whole herd passes me at a loud gallop.
A single white horse stands out against the dark background, but also attracts attention by its behavior. A short time after passing me at point-blank range, (presumably) its owner arrives and, out of breath, looks off into the distance where the gray horse grazes as if it had never bolted.
Meanwhile, plumes of smoke from nearby yurts announce that a busy day is beginning for Kyrgyz herders. Women are milking cows, men are preparing horses and children are washing themselves at the ice-cold water in the riverbed.
The local with whom I exchange my first words this morning is a boy who first waves to me shyly and then asks for my name in English. He introduces himself as Dschangube and points to the bridle above his arm: “Horse?”. I nod and wordlessly we set off together. I don’t worry about the destination. It’s no big surprise when Dschangube finds a horse that willingly lets him put on the bridle. Skillfully he swings himself on it, pulls the reins around and poses for my photo.
Then, using only sign language, Dschangube makes it clear to me that he can photograph me on the horse. Just as I am completely clueless as to how to mount without stirrups, he also accepts his challenge. So while I somehow manage to get on the horse’s back, Dschangube has kept which is the shutter button of my camera. In any case, he succeeded very well in taking the photo.
On the road in the footsteps of Marco Polo
The Silk Road leads to the most promising places in the world. On the so-called Pamir Highway, the old trade route in High Asia leads through the Pamir Mountains, where, along with the Himalayas, the Karakoram and the Hindu Kush, the highest mountains on earth can be found. Even Marco Polo used some of the routes on his journey to China, which still lead across the roof of the world today.
The city of Dushanbe is located on the Silk Road and, as in the Middle Ages, is still an important trading center today. This is proven by the many representative buildings and the lively life in the modern market hall. The amount of fresh products and especially the variety of oriental spices are overwhelming. With this calendar you can enjoy the Orient in abundance for a whole year.
The costs of accommodation with half board were covered by the organizer
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