Fedchenko Glacier is the largest valley and mountain glacier not only in Tajikistan, but in the whole world. The length of the glacier is 77 km, its area is 650 square km, its thickness is 700 -1000 meters, and its width is up to 3-5 square km (an average of 1800m). Its total volume is 93.8 km3 and it stores about 100 km3 of water. Fedchenko Glacier has about 50 tributaries, the largest of which are Bivachny, Nalivkin, Vitkovsky and Geographical Society, located at an altitude of 2900 to 7480m above sea level.
The glacier was discovered by the famous researcher of Central Asia, entomologist, and traveller Vasily Fedorovich Oshanin (1844-1917), who headed expedition named the ‘Imperial Association of Friends of the Natural Sciences’. This expedition included topographer G.E. Rodionov and the botanist M.J. Nevsky and Alexei Pavlovich Fedchenko (1844-1873). Fedchenko died later in the Alps mountains. Oshanin dedicated this pioneering discovery after his friend, Fedchenko, by stating:
“The Kyrgyz call it simply Sel, which means a glacier. Therefore, it was necessary to give it some name and I dedicated this to the memory of Alexei Pavlovich Fedchenko. I wanted to express by this, albeit to a weak degree, my deepest respect for the wonderful scientific works of my ‘unforgettable friend, to whom we owe the clarification of so many dark questions about the geography, and natural history of Central Asia. I wish that his name would remain forever associated with one of the greatest glaciers of the Central Asian highlands. I wish this because Alexei Pavlovich was particularly interested in the study of glacial phenomena. Let the ‘Fedchenkovsky glacier’ in the distant future remind to the travellers, the name of one of the most gifted and zealous explorers of Central Asia.
Fedchenko Glacier is the main source of moisture in Tajikistan. The drainage basin of the glacier covers 1537 km2 and feeds the Muksu river, a tributary of the Wakhsh, and the Amudarya rivers.
Attractiveness in Fedchenko
Despite the high altitude, low temperature and rarefied air, many travelers from all over the world try to conquer the Fedchenko glacier, called as the pearl of Tajikistan. It seems that ice absorbs mountains in the centre of the glacial region, where glaciers originate in the non-melting snows. Spilling wide, the ice forms a giant plateau, among which, like islands, the highest peaks of mountain ranges are issued. Fedchenko glacier is the dream place for those who love to challenge the wild nature with camping and picnic at the base, hiking and trekking, and skiing from the top of the slopes.
Travelling to Fedchenko
Travelling from Dushanbe to Khorog, visitors and tourists can diverge from the Pamir highroad in the place where Wanjob flows into the Panj River. Visitors need to turn at the checkpoint at this place and follow the narrower, but the better road leading to the town of Wanj. They can have rest in the centre of the district, where several shops and bazaar, ATM are available. To travel to the glacier, a taxi should be hired from the district centre to reach Upper Wanj (Wanji Bolo). Wanj is well-known for its beautiful and fertile lands, fruits, in particular apple and nuts. Reaching Poi Mazor, the last village traveller can go further towards the glacier.
The other routes to the Fedchenko glacier are from Bartang Valley. Also, the glacier can be reached from Yazgulyam valley, Tanimas valley (Kok jar), and Belandkiik valleys. Many trekkers visit Tajikistan for climbing the Fedchenko Glacier. Usually, the trekking season starts in September and one tour lasts for 25 days. The visitors should have good fitness because they will carry their part of the food, equipment, and personal belongings.