The original idea came from Ian, he had read a book called “A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush” and had also been impressed by Doug Scott’s tales of the area. We were all regulars of the university Climbing Club and, as well as hill walking and rock climbing, had a certain amount of Alpine and Scottish winter experience. But we were in our early twenties (21 myself) and had limited financial possibilities which ruled out the traditional heavyweight Himalayan expedition, even if load carrying, fixed ropes and numerous camps had appealed to us. We were more inspired by light, alpine style climbing, but in a wilder setting than the Alps themselves. The Hindu Kush and the Bashgul valley in particular seemed the ideal spot. Tales of sunny weather, blue skies and perfect granite clinched the choice.
NB. As for most of the photographs in this site, if you click on group photo above you will see a larger version.
The group was formed, letters written, responsibilities shared out and we got down to work. A 1946 Austin K9 ex-army truck was bought in Oxford for the princely sum of £80, driven down to my parents’ scrap yard in Rye, Sussex , where we spent a further £81 and a lot of time bringing it up to scratch. A paint spray job in ex-London Transport maroon red paint supplied by my father, and, to finish off, it was named Albert, from Albert Ross, or albatross of Monty Python fame. It got us there and back, not without considerable mechanical incident though. The cylinder head came off twice, the water pump was replaced several times and numerous, probably not very expert repairs were carried out all across Europe and half of Asia. The four-wheel drive proved essential on numerous occasions, especially on the last part going up into Nuristan, but also during a memorable, torrential rain storm in the middle of the night north of Teheran. The road was blocked by landslides and the weekend traffic heading for the Caspian Sea resorts. Albert unflinchingly towed several cars out of the quagmire, then ploughed through 3 feet of mud and rocks to carry on towards Meshed and the Afghan border.