Crossing Chimtarga Pass
Updated April 2020, Crossing Chimtarga Pass was originally written in May 2018
Chimtarga Pass crosses between two of the Fann Mountain’s giants: Peak Chimtarga and Peak Energia. Giving sweeping views to the jagged peaks and valleys below.
In 2016 I crossed over the 4740 meter Chimtarga Pass, I decided to give it a go again in 2019 in the opposite direction. I’ve had several emails asking about what crossing the pass was like, so I figured it’s probably time to actually write about it.
I love hiking and climbing but I don’t consider myself a hardcore mountaineer. I would say Chimtarga Pass is challenging, but nothing requiring technical climbing skills or gear.
Plan your route: The Fann Mountains Trekking Guide
Where is Chimtarga Pass located?
Chimtarga Pass sits between two of the highest peaks in the Fann Mountains– Peak Chimtarga and Peak Energia. The Fann Mountains are situated in the northwest of Tajikistan.
Crossing Chimtarga Pass will bring you from Mutnyi Lake (accessible from the Lakes Loop trek) to Bolshoi Allo (accessible from Iskanderkul/Sarytag or the Haft Kul via the Archamaiden and Zindon River Valleys). It is possible to cross the pass in the opposite direction, however, it’s a more difficult ascent.
Looking for more hiking ideas? Check out the 10 best treks in Tajikistan
CHIMTARGA PASS TABLE OF CONTENTS
Chimtarga Pass Trek
Mutnyi Lake Camp ➤ Foot Of Chimtarga Pass ➤ Chimtarga Pass ➤ Bolshoi Allo Lake Camp
2 days · 1 night
Up 1,230 meters · 1,560 meters down
The trek over Chimtarga Pass will begin from your camp at Mutnyi Lake, though you will have trekked here from Vertical Alovaddin Camp or Artuch Alplager as these are the nearest starting points– check out my Fann Mountains Guide for more information. The ascent is fairly strenuous and continues up for a while before you enter a small canyon and follow it up. There is somewhat of a trail, but if you’re comfortable with basic route finding, you should have no problem getting up Chimtarga Pass. Most will camp en route to the pass below the top at about 4100 meters. At this point, you will find plenty of flat pitches with rings of rocks to help guard your tent against the wind. Nearby you can find several mountain springs to fill up water bottles.
From 4100 meters to the top of the pass you’ll find more pitches for tents too, but water sources get scarce beyond 4200 meters.
You’ll continue the steep hike the remainder of the way up 4,740 meter Chimtarga Pass. Once at the top take a moment to appreciate the views (stunning in all directions) before beginning the descent down towards Bolshoi Allo Lake. The descent is pretty quick down the pass as it’s mostly steep loose scree and you’ll slide most the way down. There is somewhat of a path leading down but you will be sliding much of the way. Once into the Zindon Valley you will follow along the Zindon River all the way down to Bolshoi Allo and set up camp– you’ve now officially conquered Chimtarga Pass!
From Bolshoi Allo, you will need to continue down the Zindon Valley and past the small beautiful lake of Maloye Allo and back down to the Archamaidan River. From here you can head south to meet Tavasang Pass and head over to the Haft Kul, south and bend east to head over Dukdon Pass and continue to Iskanderkul, or head north to Zimtut village where you can arrange to be picked up.
It is not recommended to cross Chimtarga Pass in the reverse direction from Bolshoi Allo to Mutnyi– I’ve done it that way and can attest to that from personal experience.
Read more about beautiful Bolshoi Allo
How Long Does It Take To Get Over Chimtarga Pass?
On average 1-3 days depending on your fitness level, how you do regarding altitude, and what your intentions are.
I crossed in one long day, leaving Bolshoi Allo at 7:30 am, arriving atop the pass about 8:30 pm and arriving finally at Mutnyi at 11:30 pm back in 2016. On my crossing in 2019, we left at 9 am from Mutnyi, made it to the top of the pass by 5 pm, and finally set up camp at about 9 pm 3 kilometers from Bolshoi Allo.
Distance & Elevation Gain Over Chimtarga Pass?
- Distance from Mutnyi to Bolshoi Allo: 13 kilometers
- Bolshoi Allo elevation: 3180 meters
- Mutnyi elevation: 3510 meters
- Chimtarga Pass elevation: 4740 meters
It is possible to climb to the summit of Chimtarga Peak, the highest mountain in the Fann Mountains Range. Summiting Peak Energia is also a possibility as well as the other nearby 5000+ meter peaks.
Summiting Peak Chimtarga ranges from Russian climbing grade 2b to 6a. The easiest ascent is via Mirali Pass on the northern face of Peak Chimtarga.
How To Get To Chimtarga Pass
Most adventures into the Fann Mountains will take off from Panjakent originating in either Dushanbe, Khujand, or Samarkand, Uzbekistan (yes, the Panjakent-Samarkand border has been newly reopened in 2018!). The most likely starting points for the trek to Chimtarga Pass will be from Artuch or Vertical Alovaddin. Other starting points could include the Haft Kul or Iskanderkul/Sarytag. You can reach any of these starting points by private 4×4 hire, shared taxi, or bicycle. You can also attempt to hitchhike, but it may prove difficult as most drivers will expect some kind of compensation in Tajikistan. As of January 2020, the current exchange rate of the Tajik Somoni is 9.67 TJS to $1 USD.
You can easily arrive to Panjakent by shared taxi from Dushanbe and Khujand. It is possible to reach Artuch and the Haft Kul by shared taxi from Panjakent leaving in the mornings. (Ask around in Panjakent about the best time to arrive as the cars leave when full). If looking to begin your trek from Vertical Alovaddin camp you will first need to go by shared taxi to Sarvoda, and from Sarvoda it is possible to get a shared taxi to Vertical Alovaddin.
- Dushanbe-Panjakent: $15/140 TJS (70TJS if you take the UAZ minibus/marshrutka)
- Khujand-Panjakent: $13/120 TJS
- Dushanbe-Sarvoda: $15/140 TJS
- Panjakent-Artuch: $4/38 TJS
- Panjakent-Haft Kul: $6/57 TJS (~15 TJS if you take the UAZ minibus/marshrutka)
- Sarvoda-Sarytag/Iskanderkul: $4/38 TJS
- Sarvoda-Alovaddin: $45/423 TJS
Private Car Hire
- Dushanbe-Panjakent:$200/1888 TJS
- Dushanbe-Sarytag/Iskanderkul: $180/1617 TJS
- Dushanbe-Alovaddin: $180/1690 TJS
- Dushanbe-Haft Kul: $210/1982 TJS
- Panjakent-Artuch: $100/940 TJS
- Panjakent-Alovaddin: $160/1503 TJS
- Khujand-Panjakent: $220/2077 TJS
*Note that private car hire prices are per car and therefore can be divided up amongst a group of you if you’re traveling with others.
There is no accommodation in Chimtarga Pass, so bringing a tent is necessary. You can easily camp near Mutnyi Lake (there are several nice flat spots to set up a tent) before you begin your ascent up Chimtarga Pass. Those that opt to camp en route to the top of the pass will find several flat spots to set up camp between 4100 and 4500 meters. Once over Chimtarga Pass you can choose your spot to pitch your tent along the shored of Bolshoi Allo. It is possible to arrange homestays in Alovaddin, Artuch, Haftkul, Iskanderkul, and Sarytag. Contact ZTDA to arrange any of these homestays.
Hiring Mountain Guides & Tours
It is possible to arrange guides, porters, pack animals and even gear rental for treks into the Fann Mountains (of course pack animals can’t cross Chimtarga Pass). A great resource for trekking in the Fanns as well as arranging tours, homestays, and guides is the Zeravshan Tourism Development Association (ZTDA). Munira and Jamshed are both very helpful in arranging trips into this region of Tajikistan. It is possible to book tours through them as well, you can view what is on offer here.
Kalpak Travel arranges trips into the Fann Mountains as well, and if you mention the promo code Nicki-Kalpak2017 you will receive 5% off your booking. Paramount Journey also does tours into the Fanns, and if you mention the code PJ2017AN and this blog you will receive 5% off your tour booking with them.
Recommended Gear For Crossing Chimtarga Pass
- Inreach Explorer+
- Backpack (I personally recommend the Ariel 65 for women)
- Hiking boots (My favorite are the La Sportiva Nucleo High GTX)
- Waterproof sandals
- Katadyn water purifier
- Fann Mountains Map
- Sleeping mat
- 3-season tent
- Hydration Pack
- Sleeping bag cold rated to -5ºC/20ºF
- Campstove and Cooking set
- Silicone squeeze tubes (for cooking with sauces, olive oil, etc.)
- Propane/butane canister (available for purchase at Greenhouse Hostel in Dushanbe)
- Trekking poles
- Trekking in Tajikistan by Jan Bakker (Written by a friend and includes the Fann Mountains, Yagnob Valley, and Pamir)
- Warm outer shell jacket x1
- Down jacket x1
- Fleece x1
- Merino wool long sleeve base layer top x2
- Merino wool sleeve base layer x2
- Trekking pants x1
- Merino wool leggings x2
- Trekking socks x2
- Warm socks x1
- Sports bra x2
- Mittons x1
- Warm hat x1
- Sunglasses x1
- Microfiber towel x1
- Biodegradable shampoo bar
- Biodegradable soap
- Biodegradable wipes
- Toilet Paper
- First Aid Kit
- Hand sanitizer
- Trekking in Tajikistan by Jan Bakker & Christine Oriol. You’ll find detailed descriptions of these hikes as well as those in the Pamirs in this book.
- Tajikistan and the High Pamirs by Robert Middleton & Hue Thomas. This is a huge book, but it has so much good info on Tajikistan from history, great-game stories, travel information, and more.
- Bradt Tajikistan by Sophie Ibbotson & Max Lovell-Hoare. The most comprehensive guide to Tajikistan in print.
- Central Asia by Lonely Planet. Handy to have with you, although don’t necessarily treat it as a bible. Things rapidly change and the currency can fluctuate so it’s not always dead on. A new edition published in 2018 and I heavily question whether the writer in charge of the Tajikistan section had ever stepped foot in the country, you’ve been warned.
- The Central Asia Phrasebook by Lonely Planet I found this to be a handy item for Tajik, Russian and Kyrgyz phrases, not so much for the Wakhi phrase section.
- Fann Mountains Map by EWP (can be ordered direct from EWP as well)
- Southern Tajikistan Map by Markus Hauser
- Dehydrated meals such as Mountain House (you’ll need to stock up before leaving home)
- Trail mix
- Dried fruit and nuts (easily purchased at a bazaar)
- Peanut butter
- Spice packets
- Olive oil for cooking
- Hot sauce (bring from home to jazz up bland food)
- Instant mashed potatoes (so unhealthy, but I love them after a long trekking day)
- Fresh veggies, noodles, bread, rice, and more can be purchased at a bazaar prior to setting out for your trek)
- Pack animals cannot cross Chimtarga Pass. You will need to be able to carry your own gear, or plan to hire people to help porter gear.
- The best time of year to cross Chimtarga Pass is between mid-June until early September as the pass should be mostly snow free in this window. I crossed in mid-September 2016 and found the pass to only be dusted in snow at the top and run into occasional patches of snow.
- Even in the hottest parts of summer, you can expect temperatures to plummet below freezing 0°C/32°F at elevations above 3000m at night, so snow is realistically possible year-round.
- If you are unsure about your skill level, hire an experienced guide.
- This is a very remote corner of the world, so take precautions.
- You cannot fly in propane/butane tanks for cooking. You can pick one up in Dushanbe at Green House Hostel, sometimes you can get one in Khujand although it’s not always possible. The Alpalager in Artuch sometimes will have them in stock. If arriving from Kyrgyzstan it’s best to purchase one before leaving Osh.
- Some posts say the ice axes and crampons are necessary to cross the pass. This is not true, unless you are crossing in spring or late fall, crossing in winter is not recommended.
Chimtarga Pass is a very remote area, so there are some dangers to be aware of.
- The Fann Mountains, as well as the vast majority of Tajikistan, is prone to earthquakes. Being caught in a landslide in the mountains, buried or your route being cut off is a very real possibility.
- Temperatures can range drastically day to night out here in summer. It can easily drop below freezing at night even in summer. Proper gear cold rated down to at least -6ºC/20°F is best.
- There are snow leopards, Marco Polo sheep, and wolves living in Tajikistan’s mountains. Although you’ll be highly unlikely to cross any of them, they are something to be aware of.
- Take time to acclimatize to the altitudes out here! Altitude sickness can be dangerous and even deadly. Read up on acclimatization here.
- Above 4200 meters after leaving Mutnyi Lake and the base of Chimtarga Pass where it meets the Zindon Valley there is almost no water. Make sure you have enough before ascending further toward the pass.
Have Questions About Crossing Chimtarga Pass?
Ask your Chimtarga Pass questions in the comments section below.