The Kunlun Mountain ranges extend to an area over of 3,000 kilometers, or 1,900 miles, and form the north side of the famous Tibetan plateau. Named from Chinese mythical text, these ranges come with many myths and legends, and it’s every climber’s dream to reach the top to see what if the stories were true.
Photo Courtesy: CC-BY-SA Alliance Francaise De Wuhan
Kunlun is one of the major mountain systems in Asia, it is the second largest mountain range in the world after Los Andes in South America. Most of the Kunlun mountains are situated in China, however, the western part is located on the borders with Tajikistan.
If one is interested in following the mountain ranges eastward, they will find out that they run parallel to the ranges of the Karakoram for quite a distance. As you near the east side, the valley of Mazar separates these two ranges, and splits into several smaller ranges if you go further east.
The Kunlun ranges have over astonishing 200 peaks over 6000 meters. The highest peaks are located in the western side, and at times locals refer them to as Kongur Shan. The highest one, which is 7,649m, is Kongur. However, the most popular peak with climbers is Muztagh Ata, which is 7,506m high, and it is, in fact, one of the highest peaks in the world that is easy to climb.
In the east, the highest mountain, which is over 7,000 meters, is Aksai Chin, or Kunlun I. Majority of the Chinese refer to it as the Kunlun Goddess. It is 7,167 meters above sea level, and was first climbed in 1986 by a group of Japanese nationals.
An interesting fact is, despite the length of the Kunlan, only two roads cross the chain. The two crossing points are Chiragsaldi Pass, which is 5000 meters high and is located at Xinjiang Highway. This road links Xinjiang Province in China with Tibet. The other popular crossing found on Golmund is Kunlun Shankou.
The range can also be crossed through nomad tracks and walking paths. An old trade route known as Kerriya has been used before by trekkers, who say it is a great experience to cross using it. It is 5,650 meters high, and the terrain is rough: one can only walk since no vehicles can pass.
One can climb the Kunlun Mountains from the far west, which has the highest peaks and a stable weather. The other sides to climb are the central parts, though reaching these peaks is too difficult for non-experienced climbers. In the east, the small mountains are easy to begin with.
Experienced mountaineers say the Kinlun mountains (that are, by the way, translated as “the mountains of blinding darkness”) are one of the most difficult mountains to climb in the world, yet admit that the fulfillment and pleasure that comes with reaching the peak cannot be compared to anything else.