Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Afghanistan's Secret Peaks 2012 Expedition Announced

A small team of climbers has announced an interesting expedition that is set to take place this summer in the Wakhan region of Afghanistan. Dubbed the Afghanistan's Secret Peaks Expedition, the team hopes to trek the length of the remote Wakhan Corridor, visiting two unexplored valleys and attempting several first ascents along the way. Once summited, they also plan to paraglide from the top, giving them unique views of the unexplored territory below. Finally, they hope to document the entire journey on film as well.

The expedition, which is expected to begin in June of this year, is taking a "leave no trace" approach to exploring the rugged and beautiful Wakhan region. The team plans to travel in a carbon neutral fashion and hopes to minimize their impact on the environments that they are passing through. The use of the paragliders is part of that approach, as they'll be used to take arial photographs and video footage along the way.

The Wakhan Corridor is located in the north-east corner of Afghanistan, and stretches between that country and China. It serves as boundary between Tajikistan to the north, and Pakistan to the south, and was once a popular trade route for merchant caravans traveling from the Far East to Europe. The area has a reputation for having unpredictable weather, matched with very rugged terrain, and there are parts of the area that have remained mostly inaccessible for centuries. With plenty of snowcapped mountain peaks, it is also a huge draw for climbers looking to bag virgin peaks.

For me personally, the Wakhan region remains on my list of "must visit" places. I've heard that it is breathtakingly beautiful and that the people that live there are friendly and accommodating. It has started to become a popular trekking destination, although visitors to the area still remain low. Obviously Afghanistan still has security issues in parts of the country, but adventure travelers with the means will have a fantastic time there. I really need to go!

Find out more about the Afghanistan's Secret Peaks Expedition, and follow the team's progress in a few months, on their official website.

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