|Zone and Permit||open, no permit|
|Summary||This gentle pass leads through meadows and meanders along stream; it’s an outstanding quick route between picturesque upper Ghizar and colourful Yarkhun.|
Chumarkhan An (4328m) links Barsat in the upper Ghizar Valley with Chapali in Chitral’s Yarkhun Valley. It offers quick access to Yarkhun and an alternative to travelling the road between upper Ghizar and Chitral. No public transport operates along the Gilgit- Chitral road across the Shandur Pass between Barsat and Mastuj, jeeps go infrequently and special hires are expensive. When faced with the probability of walking, it’s shorter and more pleasant to walk across the gentle Chumarkhan An than walking along the road over Shandur Pass. Chumarkhan An is usually crossed from south to north because of the steep descent on its north side into Zagaro Gol. Chumarkhan, which means ‘iron fort’, is a rolling plain where herders graze their livestock between July and September.
The US AMS 1:250,000 topographic map Mastuj (NJ 43-13) covers the trek.
GETTING TO/FROM THE TREK
Jeeps go infrequently from Gupis to Barsat, which is beyond Teru where the Chumarkhan Gol joins the Ghizar River.
Chapali- Mastuj jeeps depart in the morning. At other times of day, flag down any vehicle heading south. Jeeps also go regularly Mastuj- Chitral. To go upvalley, flag down any vehicle heading north.
Day 1 : Barsat to Upper Chumarkhan Gol
3- 4 hours, 11km, 647m ascent
Barsat (3353m) lies along the upper Ghizar’s north bank. Nearby, at the confluence of the Chumarkhan and Ghizar rivers, are the tents of the Chumarkhan police check post on the Gilgit- Chitral road. From the check post, follows the Chumarkhan upriver, keeping on its true left (east) side. Several large tributaries and many livestock trails can make the way to the pass confusing. It’s easiest to find a herder to show the way. Stay in the middle of the broad Valley with the main stream to the west (left). Camp anywhere in meadows in the Upper Chumarkhan Gol (4000m).
Day 2 : Upper Chumarkhan Gol to Chapali
5 hours, 18km, 328m ascent, 1778m descent
Continue to the broad, rolling Chumarkhan An (4328m). Herders here may offer fresh yogurt. The descent into Chitral is steep, through meadows along the Chumarkhan Gol’s true right (east) side. The scattered, mostly deserted settlement of Kulam Shal (3429m) lies to the right as you descend. The path soon meets the trail coming from the Zagaro An and in 15 minutes crosses to the Zagaro Gol’s true right bank over a log footbridge, just above the confluence of the birch- lined Chumarkhan Gol and Zagaro Gol. Follow the large, well- used trail one hour to the first houses. The trail widens here to jeep width. Continue another hour to the footbridge at the start of Chapali (2550m) and its jeep road. Follow the road 30 minutes past the water supply house through the village to the Yarkhun Valley jeep road. At this intersection is a sign Reading ‘Water Supply Scheme Chapari’ and a store on the opposite side of the road. The shopkeeper lets trekkers camp in the field behind the store.
The following treks are all in an open zone.
Kuru An (4700m), a pass used by ibex hunters, crosses the ridge between the Baj Gaz Gol and Pakora Gol, eastern tributaries of the Iskhoman Rivers. From Mujaowir village (spelled Munjawar on maps) adjacent to Imit in the Iskhoman Valley, follow a trial south- east up the Baj Gaz (where there’s a lot of grass) to the pasture at Khushrui Zherav (beautiful valley in Wakhi). Local people also refer to the valley as Bazi Gah. The glaciated upper valley offers climbing possibilities, but the heavily corniced and technically difficult Baj Gaz Pass (shown on all maps) at the valley’s head is never crossed. The pass was reportedly crossed by an unknown Englishman in about 1925.
From Khushrui Zherav, the route over Kuru An (marked on some, but not named on any maps) turns south- west, climbs to the ridge, and descends the Kuru An Gol, reaching Pakora Gol at the small settlement of Kuru. Cross the footbridge to the Pakora Gol’s true left bank and follow the main trail downvalley. See Day 5 of the Pakora Pass trek (p) for a description between Kuru and Pakora. Allow three or four days for this demanding near- loop trek.
Atar, a less well- known but very scenic pass between the Yasin and Iskhoman Valleys, is usually open July to September (see map,) . Atar is also the name of a large lake, which flows into the Mathantir Gah (in Burushaski, mathan means ‘far’; tir, a ‘valley’). Schomberg explored this route in 1933 and village elders in Ghotulti still remember him. The route shown on the U502 Baltit (NJ 43-14) map is based on Schomberg’s notes. Atar is a longer, but seemingly easier route between Darkot and Ghotulti than the Punji Pass. A local guide is essential. Some villagers from Darkot and Ghotulti know the route. It may be preferable to trek east to west since many Ghotulti villagers go up to Atar Lake and few people from Darkot cross the Atar Pass to the lake. Plan on three to five days for this demanding trek.
From Darkot, head east past Mardain. Cross to the Nyu Bar’s true left bank and follow it to Mamutshil with its few trees, huts and livestock pens. Tshili Harang is the main summer settlement and Chordes is a pasture high above the Nyu Bar’s true right bank. Recross the Nyu Bar to Tshili Harang and continue up the valley’s east arm, here called the Jut Bar.
The Jut Bar divides, with the Bhorki Bar continuing south. The route to the pass turns east and heads up Atar Bar. Schomberg found a small glacier beneath the pass, which became steep near the top. The glacier isn’t difficult, but could be avoided by keeping to the north side. Schomberg was met by Iskhoman men on top of the pass and so had to change porters there. He describes the view towards Iskhoman as ‘an immense amphitheater surrounded by a circle of snowy peaks and hanging glaciers’. The descent is steep to Atar Lake, a greenish lake 4km long. The path skirts its south shore with a camp site at its east end. Follow the Mathantir Gah To Handis and the confluence of the Baru Gah. From Handis trails on both sides of the Baru Gah lead to the roadhead at Ghotulti.
A four- day moderate trek across the Darmodar Haghost (4495m) links Jundoli village, along the Gilgit River 10km upstream from its confluence with the Iskhoman River, with Dal Sandhi in Yasin. From Jundoli, head north up the Darmodar Gah, cross the pass on the second day, and on the third day reach Mayur, joining the trail from the Asumbar Haghost. Continue to Dal Sandi (See Day 4 of the Asumbar Haghost trek,).
Two variations of this trek exist. An alternative and longer trek starts from Maiun in the Iskhoman Valley. It heads north- west up the Shahchoi Gah and across the Shahchoi An (4500m) to meet the Darmodar Gah below the Darmodar Haghost. An alternatively three- day route starts at Jundoli, but crosses another pass, about the same elevation as Darmodar Haghost, and heads west into Qurqulti Bar meeting the Yasin Valley above Sandhi village. This route is used by Gujars from Ghizar, who ride horses to medicinal springs above Barkulti in Yasin.
Two passes, the Dadarelli An and Bashkaro An, link the upper Ghizar Valley with the Ushu Gol in Kalam Kohistan to the south. A reliable local guide and an armed escort are recommended, especially in Swat’s Ushu Gol where people are heavily armed and may be hostile. A challenging loop trek can be made by combing a trek over either of these passes with the Kachakani An Trek (p). Both routes cross small glaciers, so bring a rope and ice axe for safety.
Infrequently crossed Dadarelli An (5030m) is at the head of these scenic Handrap Valley, a southern tributary of the Ghizar River. Handrap is renowned for its trout fishing, and the world record brown trout was taken out of Handrap Lake. Although Handrap villagers speak Khowar, most are immigrants from the Darrel Valley in Indus Kohistan. This demanding five- day trek is best done July to September.
From the Gilgit- Chitral road before Teru, 4½ hours’ drive from Gilgit, cross a bridge over the Ghizar River to Handrap village, on the Handrap River’s west bank. Follow the trail 13km to the south shore of the tree- lined Handrap lake in four to five hours on Day 1. On Day 2 continue five to six hours, 14km, up the pleasant valley to where the valley divides (3593m), and take the main (south) fork. The other fork, which heads south- east, leads across high passes to the Kandia Valley in Indus Kohistan. Camp a few kilometres past the fork. On Day 3 push four hours up the open, barren valley, passing several lakes, and set a base camp near the highest lake. It takes seven to eight hours to cross the pass on Day 4, and because of rock- fall danger on the south side of the pass, start early. The final ascent to the pass is over a small glacier, and the descent is on steep scree with a detour around a large snowfield. Several hours from the pass, reach meadows and camp. On Day 5 descend the herders’ trail along the Dadarelli stream, past summer huts to Diwangar at the confluence of the Dadarelli Valley and Ushu Gol. Continue down Ushu Gol to Machiangaas, making this a five- to six hour day. Prearrange transport to meet you in Machiangaas or walk the next day five to six hours to Matiltan where there’s transport to Kalam .
Bashkaro An (4924m) is a demanding and rarely crossed pass. West of Barsat, the Gilgit- Chitral road goes south, past peat bogs. Leave the road where it turns west to the Shandur Pass and the Khokush Gol meets the Ghizar River. The trek starts here and heads south up the Khokush Gol, which has many large lakes and good fishing. Continue upvalley, along the lakes’ west shores and camp beyond the highest lake. The ascent to the Bashkaro An appears to be several kilometres over a glacier. Herders in the Khokush Gol may be able to guide you to the pass. South of the pass, descend into the Ushu Gol at Shonz and continue to Machiangaas.