Tajikistan Paragliding Vol Bivouac

Tajikistan Paragliding Vol Bivouac

In the summer of 2012, I was on course to
join a bold climbing expedition in the north of Afghanistan. The plan was to enter through
peaceful Tajikistan, to take familiar roads to the mountain town of Khoroug where I was
to cross the border. It wasn’t to be so simple. About to set off from the capital Duschanbe,
I was met by stories from those fleeing the violence in Khoroug. People spoke of 10’s
of dead, but were hopeful that a ceasefire called by the Aga Kahn would hold. In the Badakshan Autonomous region tensions
had remained high since a bloody civil war ended over two decades past. As it would later
transpire the violence had been precipitated by the assasination of Major General Abdullah
Nasarov of the local Tajik KGB branch. The lucrative smuggling of heroin and cigarettes
close to the border town is controlled by a delicate interplay between corrupt officials
and the local mafia and on this occasion, speculation suggests that Nasarov may have
asked for one payment too many leading to his murder, and the movement of hundreds of
Tajik army forces in to the Badakshan region. Two days after the assassination the stage
was set and in the following days of fighting, credible estimates put the eventual death
toll at approximately 140 killed. Of course from Duchanbe I had just arrived
to start my expedition and wanted to fly my paraglider. We had no news whatsoever of what
really happened. You see where this river splits… Khorog, finished, no finished. We’ve met a lot of people who have come from
Khorog, and, have some very funny stories about it. To be honest all the information
at the moment is so mixed that it is really hard to know what to do. I think as you can see I’m tired, and I smell,
and I don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow, and I don’t think Khorog is safe. Maybe I
will go to the Bartang valley. I don’t think I can make contact with the team which is
really annoying me. After getting 50 km from Khorog I changed
my plans. I went to the north starting a new vol bivouac route. So here we are, day one. It’s about six in
the morning and I walked up last night. I’m quite nervous actually. The Zerafshan valley
runs for about two hundred kilometers to the east and the Usbek border is about two or
three kilometers away along the top of the ridge. It’s going to be an interesting day’s
flying. I’d been looking at this route for years.
It was 500km of mountains to the east. By 12 o’clock there were no cumulous. The air
was dry, dusty and inverted. That’s pretty much the end of the first day.
16km! There are some guys behind me from the army over here. I managed to come down
a village with an army base so I’m really not looking forward to seeing these guys. I spent 10 very stressful hours with these
guys and the KGB. They thought I’d come from Uzbekistan illegally. I was very very relieved when I was eventually let go.

56 thoughts on “Tajikistan Paragliding Vol Bivouac

  1. I've paid good money for paragliding films not nearly as good as this Will. Lovely film, lovely flying, lovely people.

  2. Will, I am truly amazed at the quality of the video, I've just watched it on the big screen and I echo what RJ said, I have paid money for worse! Good luck in the Atlas mountains, make sure you take lots of batteries for the camera. I need to join you on an adventure one day.

  3. I probably have only commented once or twice before.  Your video is a masterpiece, that inspire us that are just getting started and dream of big air vol bivouacs, make sure to drop me a line if you ever down in Central America, still so much to explore.

  4. Thank you for sharing your adventure with us! Your video reminds me of John Silvester's From Nowhere to the Middle of Nowhere – the same purity in both your approach to adventure and filmmaking. Feels good to watch. 

  5. Wow. WOW! Will this is a spectacular piece of storytelling and a humbling adventure, I held my breath through most of the first viewing. Well done for staying so focused to make a film while doing an epic. Great music choice, edit cuts, the whole package.

  6. meine Güte, dann lasst doch die ver….te Musik weg!
    Das Video ist bestimmt auch ohne gut!
    Außerdem gibts Musik ein Masse bei Jamendo die man für sowas verwenden kann!

  7. Will…I take my hat off to you. That was one amazing adventure, so glad you survived and was able to share it with us. Cheers.

  8. Excellent!  The shots of you walking through the countryside adds to the feeling of how long the journey was and gives a sense of how rough the terrain is there.  Thanks for going back for the camera all those times.  Cheers!

  9. You have come quite a way Grasshopper since we first met, you elegantly flying a Zagi straight into the pit of oblivion.
    A very nice, well shot film, well done.
    The Wabbit :-))

  10. Congratulations. Flying in this form is freedom pure. That is what some of us are looking for since we are small children. Your trip is an inspiration to some of us encouraging us to  explore our own possibilities. I fly since 35 years and the fascination for this sport has increased every year. Great to live in a time where flying with 10 kg of material has become possible.
    take care.

  11. William thanks a lot to share this amazing adventure ! and one more amazing for the quality of your video . thanks al lot …

  12. I guess I stand alone with my opinion. But I will speak it anyway
    I only watched a few minutes of it before shutting it off. I refuse to give you an audience. You are a fool. You have no business being there. Its nothing but a game of Russian roulette to make any type of calculations as to what is safe or not when so little of your circumstances are in your control. Its why its called war zone. A fair haired skinny white boy running around wearing a bright yellow shirt? Im sorry you are just plain asking for it.
    Had you gotten yourself killed It would have made the news leaving the rest of us looking like idiots too.

  13. That was so inspiring, congratulations on your amazing adventure, looking forward to watching the rest of your videos.

  14. Nice paragliding video! Wouldn't mind doing a hike n fly in a different country myself. Can I ask what gear you used for this trip and how much it cost? It looks like an Advance Pi but I could be wrong.

  15. Nice work William.  Beautiful photography and a such a mood conveyed. Not to mention the lonesome and sublime together for you on that mission.  Gratitude for you sharing.

  16. Absolutely inspiring William! Any plans for a new vol biv in that region? I'm looking at some routes in Kyrgyzstan. Would be cool to jump on Skype one of these days to share some ideas.

  17. I love that watching your videos helps me find the same peace that draws me to flight to begin with. How do you come back to life (like making these videos) after that? Do you find you were drawn back after enough solitude?

  18. I am dreaming, ThanXXX so fine 🙂  for your next glider expedition:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_afHBUFWas

  19. Very nice! If you would fly it again, would you recommend light reversable harness or litle bit heavier pod cocoon type harness?

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