John Mock & Kimberley O'Neil

Expedition Report

The Source of the Oxus River:
A Journey to the Wakhan Pamir & Across Dilisang Pass to Misgar
(July-August 2004)

by John Mock & Kimberley O'Neil, Copyright Text © 2004

Go to >> 
PLANNING  | Politics  | What About Those Warlords  | How Do You Get There?  | Maps: Where's the Dilisang Pass?  | Speak to People in Their Own Language |
THE JOURNEY  | Islamabad: From Tourism to Interior Ministries  | Kabul to Faizabad: Meeting General Warduk  | Faizabad to Sarhad: The End of the Road in the Wakhan  | Wakhan: Trekking from Sarhad to Kashch Goz  | Little Pamir: Kashch Goz up the Wakhjir Valley  | The Source of the Oxus River: Is there an Ice-Cave?  | Kamansu: The Way to Dilisang  | Across Dilisang Pass to Misgar  | After You Marco Polo, But After Us … |


In early April 2004, we received a call from Cynthia Amon of W.L. Gore, Inc. informing us that we were recipients of a 2004 Shipton/Tilman Grant. Earlier that winter we had submitted an application, which, frankly, we thought nobody would be willing to fund. Our objective was to traverse the length of Afghanistan's Wakhan Corridor to the source of the Oxus River (Amu Darya) in the Little Pamir near the western base of the Wakhjir Pass and then cross the Dilisang Pass to Misgar village in the upper Hunza Valley of Pakistan's Northern Areas. Simple enough, right?

Although we had spent much of the past twenty-five years living, working and trekking across the great mountain ranges of South Asia, we had never set foot in Afghanistan. Given our track record of reconnoitering unknown mountain passes, we figured that finding a mountain pass not marked on any maps would be easy, but would we really be safe? Afghanistan is not exactly the number one destination for travelers nowadays. Would the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan give two Americans permission to cross their international border while our country was waging a war in Afghanistan? Pakistan, after all, was refusing American troops permission to do just that, despite being an American ally. If we didn't think we could pull it off, we wouldn't have submitted the application. But now that W.L. Gore believed in us too, we were going to have to make it happen.

With just three months to go before we would get on an airplane, we began planning this complex expedition. Sitting in our mountain home in California's Sierra Nevada, we considered our options. The strategy we settled on was simple - tell everybody the truth about what we wanted to do and where we wanted to go. Anything else was too risky. And, for reasons we may never fully understand, all along the way everyone said "yes" to us.

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Forward to >> PLANNING
Forward to >> THE JOURNEY

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