We set off with the idea of getting some good milage done. We were also confident we could get to Kharugh. How wrong we were. Our first issue was a broken bridge, to be fair to the policeman several km’s before he did try to warn us. The terios plowed through the river with ease. Next up was the Panda. It didnt go so well. They got stuck only 3m into the river so we had to push them back a bit and assess the situation. The solution was simple, all hands on deck. The riverbed was too loose in its current state so the spades came out, those that didnt have spades used their hands as we piled good solid rocks into the riverbed at our chosen crossing point. Once we had rebuilt the Tajiks road for them we attached out tow rope to the Panda and pulled it across while Jan drove it. Our plan worked a charm and the Panda was across.
While all this was going on an impatient local in his Soviet 4×4 had decided to drive round another way instead of waiting 10 minutes. He chose a horrible path and royally fucked his car. What a moron.
With the panda across we rebuilt part of the riverbed so the Aussies could get their Alto across. They gunned it across and got over without any assistance even if their car did bounce a good foot into the air. Success we were all over! We decided to head on and find a stream where we could stop for lunch and get drinking water. It was not to be.
With roads on the Pamir you simply cannot loose concentration for a second. Unfortunately Jan didnt pay attention to the road for a split second and ended up with 2 blown out tires, both punctures on the sidewall which meant they were very difficult to repair. In the end we put on their spare wheel and then repaired the other tire with tire weld. Unfortunately tireweld isn’t made for sidewalls so we had to stop every hour to pump up the Pandas tire.
The tire issue also meant we had to drive even slower to avoid damage to the tire before we got to Kharugh where the Germans could get a new one. As we wound through the mountain passes we ran into a British Biker; Wez who was driving round central asia, after a little chat we parted ways even though we were going the same way. He was much faster on his bike than we were. Little did we know we would soon meet again in strange circumstances.
As we pressed on we descended into a valley and hit a military checkpoint. The guys their were very friendly and we were through pretty fast. They also told us the Aussies had been through already as we had sent them off infront of us while blowing up the Germans tire since we were faster and could catch up. As we were leaving the checkpoint Wez the biker from earlier turned up and told us the bridge to Kharugh was out. Shit. We headed down to see if we could still get across. We were greeted by a raging torrent and a totally destroyed bridge that had apparently collapsed only the night before.
We headed back up to the checkpoint to discuss the situation with everyone. We were told a truck may come in the morning that could tow us so we headed down to the bridge. There was nowhere to pitch out tents so we grabbed our gear and climbed across the broken bridge to the otherside where we setup camp in an old shipping container. We cooked up some food as it got dark and we setup alarms to get up early so that we wouldnt miss the truck.
Before we got to bed some locals appeared on the otherside, they crossed the raging river in their shitty 4×4 Lada. They clearly knew what they were doing however as they had waterproofed their engine. After a discussion in russian and english they agreed for $150 to come back with a large truck capable of fitting our cars on to get us across. An hour later true to their word the locals came back with a massive 12L V8 truck, they disconnected all the electrics and fans and took us across the river to our cars. The truck cutout several times crossing the river but each time they got it started again and we got across. The Panda and Alto were taken across one at a time with us and our headtorches providing the light for the driver as he had disconnected his headlights.
The Terios however was too big to fit on the back and was instead towed across in a nerve wracking flash. But we were all across! But the danger was not over yet, an impatient lorry crossed before we could move out of the way, he took a bad path around us taking out the powerlines with him, we all ran for cover as the truck dragged live powerlines towards us. Realising Kelv was still asleep in the metal shipping container we banged as loud as we could for him to get the hell out and several seconds later he came bounding out.
After crossing a raging torrent on the back of an old soviet truck and escaping falling powerlines we paid the truck drivers and went to bed! What a day!