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852 ACROSS THE PAMIRS [Chap. XXV
detritus shoots from former glacier snouts. The small grassy spots between these were marked by a striking abundance of fine alpine vegetation. Here, as elsewhere in the high mountains west of the Pamirs, there was plentiful evidence that glaciation had considerably receded during recent times.
From our camp, pitched at an elevation of close on 14,000 feet, the Kayindi pass, 16,20o feet by the Russian map, was crossed without much difficulty on August 5th. The ascent lay over old moraines and finally for about a mile on a broad gently sloping glacier, descending from the west. The top of the pass was almost clear of snow. After we had descended to the narrow gorge through which the stream of the Kuinush-jilga passes, a very steep track led up to a plateau gently sloping south-eastwards. From the end of it an extensive panoramic view opened over the wide valleys that descend from the south and east to the head of the Sel-dara, and towards the west where the combined waters of the latter pass in a gorge below the flank of the Sel-tagh. It was interesting to observe that the long ridge overlooking the main valley to the south showed six distinct old riverine terraces to a height of about 400 feet above the present bed. The Pamir-like look of the wide landscape, combined with the scanty vegetation, formed a striking contrast to the Muk-su and Kayindi valleys. Our farther march led up the main valley to the south-east, past the streams which descend to it from the glacier-crowned watershed towards the Tanimaz river on the south. Camp was pitched after a march of some 33 miles at the debouchure of the Chakur-jilga. The day's halt here which our Kirghiz transport needed was utilized by me for a visit to the fine glacier filling the head of the Chakur-jilga (Fig. 367). Its snout, which is quite half a mile across, was reached at an elevation of about 14,600 feet. The range to the south, though crowned by heavy névé beds and firm ice, was said by our intelligent Kirghiz guide to have been crossed in the ` old Kirghiz days ' at more than one point by tracks used for raids into the upper part of Rôshan.
On August 7th we moved up the main valley for about 6 miles and turned south into the Takhta-koram-jilga ; the gently sloping bottom of this is filled with bare rock debris, whence its name. After passing four small tarns of intense green, we reached the Takhta-koram pass without trouble at an elevation of about 15,100 feet. Immediately to the west a small glacier descends close to it from a bold snow peak. The very steep descent at first led over a bare rock slope and then over old moraines into a wide-bottomed valley to the south, where at an elevation of about 13,000 feet we found a delightful patch of meadow land and camped.
The necessity of securing fresh transport and a fresh guide for our farther move obliged me next day to seek contact with Kökan Beg, the headman of the Kirghiz who graze about the Great Kara-kul lake eastwards. For this purpose we had to descend first into the Kök-yar valley, which drains westwards into the Tanimaz or Kûdara river. Where the valley from the Takhta-koram pass debouches into it we passed huge terminal moraines of the glacier which once had filled the former. A couple of miles farther we turned off north into the side valley of Shôr-ale and ascending a steep rocky ravine lined with cliffs of red sandstone reached the Kizil-bel saddle, about 14,70o feet, which takes its name from them. On our descent down the wide gently sloping valley I was met by Kökan Beg, a fine-looking man (Fig. 356), and conducted by him to a small summer camp of some of his men at Kara-chim at an elevation of some 13,700 feet.
From that capable headman I was able to secure useful advice with regard to our future route. From him I first learned of the great lake which since a mighty earthquake four years before had formed in the Murghab river valley. Covering what had previously been the Sarez Pamir, this lake effectively blocked the straight route I had intended to follow towards the Alichur Pamir across the Kara-bulak and Marjanai passes. Not wishing to follow the well-known road past Pamirski Post, I decided to move down to Saunab, at the head of the Rôshan valley, and thence to seek a passage past the great barrage which had created that new lake, towards the lower end