A vodka toast on top of the world

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AN ARROWTOWN mountain man is tackling rarely-climbed summits in a remote Central Asian country.
An email from Jock Jeffery in Tajikistan – neighbours with Afghanistan, Pakistan and China – reports he recently made the third ascent of 6060m peak White Pyramid.

He was turned back just 80m shy of the 6130m summit of unclimbed Zartosh mountain, which two British colleagues subsequently conquered on their third attempt.

For one 30-day stretch Jeffery says he didn’t see “a living creature, bush or tree”, but plenty of dust storms.

Temperature extremes range from “very hot desert conditions” of 40-plus degrees Celsius at base camp to -25 on mountains.

But it’s not all bad, Jeffery says – in the capital of Dushanbe, vodka comes cheap.

“Vodka very cold and $3 a bottle – love those Russians.” 

According to Wikipedia, mountains comprise 93 per cent of Tajikistan, which gained independence from the former Soviet Union 18 years ago.

Jeffery has been on several Himalayan climbing expeditions and pioneered a number of first ascents and new routes in Pakistan and Bolivia.