Sec. ii] THROUGH YASIN TO THE DARKÔT PASS 4'
SECTION IL—THROUGH YASIN TO THE DARKÔT PASS
Ghizar, now separately administered by a ` Governor ' of Khushwaqt descent, lay at a distance Head of
from my route. But of the Kho tract I was able to see something on my way from the Sheobat Batres-gah
pass to Yasin proper. The descent from the former took us on August 23rd over ground clearly marked as the bed of a former glacier and past steep slopes of rock debris to the high grazing ground known as Kuterao-ferao. Next day, a couple of miles lower down, we struck at Mayurai the Batres-gah valley. Here an area of carefully levelled ground, not less than half a mile square,
attested former cultivation at an elevation of over io,000 feet. The Batres-gâh valley looked comparatively open. A track practicable for laden animals ascends the valley south-eastwards to the Suj-gali pass leading to Nyachût in Darél, and this is the route by which Fa-hsien and his Chinese fellow pilgrims probably proceeded to Ta-li-lo and the Indus. For our own journey to Yasin two marches down the Batres-gâh Nullah to its mouth and then another along the Gilgit river to Gûpis would have offered the easiest route. But in order to save a day I chose the short cut that was reported to lead above Gafar-bôdo to a pass giving direct access to the head of the Gûpis Nullah due north.
The mountains to the south of the Gilgit river have in these parts not yet been adequately Pass above
surveyed. So it was scarcely surprising that this unexplored pass proved almost impossible for Gafar bôdo. our porters. For fully eight hours we scrambled over huge masses of rock debris and boulders (Fig. 32), the worst I ever encountered in this region, relics of an ancient glacier, before we reached the narrow rock gully forming the pass at an elevation of just under 16,000 feet. The entire absence of glacier mud or other soft soil over all this ground seemed a clear indication of the dryness of the climate on this side of the Indus watershed, far advanced denudation resulting from it. On the steep north slope of the pass névé-beds were still found, the last remnant of what must have been, within .a relatively recent period, a glacier of some size. Nightfall obliged us to camp amidst old moraines at an elevation well over 15,000 feet.
The following day's march led down to Gûpis through a steep and gradually narrowing Descent to
valley. In its upper portion it was of interest to observe a succession of ancient terminal moraines Gûpis. marking at intervals the points to which the glacier had advanced at different geological periods. Stretches of sloping meadow land used for grazing separated these steep falls of rock debris, the lowest of them being met with some nine miles below our camping-place. Below the junction with the Bashkar-gah branch, which descends from the south-west and still holds an active glacier, the valley contracts into an extremely narrow gorge flanked on either side by rocky precipices. These cliffs, which at their base showed in places clear marks of glacier ` grinding ', appeared to rise to a height of 3,000 feet or more above the canon-like bed of the stream. Their name Upaiyot, interpreted to mean in Ship) ` higher than birds can fly ', suggests some local legend similar to that which accounts for the origin of the ancient name Paropanisus (Avestic Upairi-faêna) borne by the Hindukush main range north of Kabul. A very steep spur jutting out above the main valley near Gûpis and known as Ishkérbal was pointed out as a natural place of refuge resorted to in old times.
August 24th, spent at the village of Gûpis, was our first day of halt since leaving Kashmir. Halt at
We took advantage of it for work of many kinds, in which we were assisted by the presence of the Gûpis Fort. small garrison of Imperial Service troops holding Gûpis Fort. This effectively guards both the mouth of the Yasin valley opening on the opposite side of the river and the route that leads to Mastûj and Chitral. It was of direct historical interest to find this testimony to the strategic importance of the point under present, as under past, conditions ; for, as mentioned above, it is