Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Afghanistan Reopens Mt. Noshaq
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.