A short scramble in the Hindu Kush

I have been resolving an extreme case of Tsundoku [see ‘Tsundoki‘ on May 24th, 2017] over the last few weeks by reading ‘A short walk in the Hindu Kush‘ by Eric Newby which I bought nearly forty years ago but never read, despite taking it on holiday a couple of years ago.  Although it was first published in 1958, it is still in print and on its 50th edition; so, it has become something of classic piece of travel writing.  It is funny, understated and very English, or least early to mid 20th century English.

It felt quite nostalgic for me because about thirty years ago I took a short walk in Gilgit Baltistan. Gilgit Baltistan is in northern Pakistan on the border with China and to the west of Nuristan in Afghanistan where Eric Newby and Hugh Carless took their not-so short walk.  I went for a scramble up a small peak to get a better view of the mountains in the Hindu Kush after a drive of several days up the Karakorum Highway.  We were driven from Islamabad to about a mile short of the border with China on the Khunjerab pass at 4730 m [compared to Mont Blanc at 4810 m].

I was there because the Pakistani Government supplied a small group of lecturers with a mini-bus and driver to take us up the Karakorum Highway [and back!] in exchange for a course of CPD [Continuing Professional Development] lectures on structural integrity.  This we delivered in Islamabad to an audience of academics and industrialists during the week before the trip up the Karakoram Highway.  So, Eric Newby’s description of whole villages turning out to greet them and of seeing apricots drying in the sun on the flat roofs of the houses brought back memories for me.

2 thoughts on “A short scramble in the Hindu Kush

  1. F. Holt

    Hello Eann,
    How I envy you your scramble. I’ve been to several places, but not the Hindu Kush, and now, at my age of 85, and having recently had to resort to using a walking stick, (‘though not all the time – I’m fighting back!). I don’t think there’s much prospect of me doing any mountain scrambling.
    I now resort to enjoying mental stimulation, in the way of watching Matt O Dowd on PBS Space-time and Don Lincoln on Fermilab, both these, and many others, are available on You Tube.
    By the way, Mont Blanc is not the highest mountain in Europe, that place is filled by Mt. Elbrus in the Caucasus.

    Reply

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