Venture to Barag Hill, the highest in Kirthar Range

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Venture to Barag Hill, the highest in Kirthar Range

Aziz Ahmed Jamali 

Exploring Barag Hill in Balochistan’s Khuzdar district was caused by at least two catalysts – our dear friend Aqeel Baig who ventured off roads into Gaaj Kolachi area last year (2020) to trek a bit on Barah Hill; and a group of trail-running enthusiasts led by Javed Ali who ran from Gorakh Hill to Balochistan side of Kirthar Range with a similar quest. I had been to Gorakh and Kutte Ji Kabar, two well-known heights of Kirthar hills; yet I won’t believe there could be a higher point in the Kirthars (was just an assumption).

One weekend in April 2021, I traveled out with Asad Mir who had been to a certain altitude (less summit) on Barag Hill before.  We reached Khuzdar where my cousin Sardar Ali and a friend Shoaib Sultan joined us. We drove to Kolachi which is four hours drive (70 kilometers) essentially off roads in the river bed. The next morning, we explored the Machyani Gorge five km south of Kolachi village; it has an amazing natural rock design and offers crabs and fish in the stream. We took two hours to explore the gorge although one could spend more time.

We enjoyed few dips in the water to beat the heat

Then we drove to Gaaj area and stayed at Dobli village; it is 40 km from Kolachi and takes four hours to travel by jeep. There we came across an amazing structure of water conservation made of indigenous materials like mud and wood – water flowing down from Chaaro Machi and Sardari was stored as a dam with 10 – 15 feet depth. We enjoyed few dips in the water to beat the heat.

At sunset, we broke the fast at Dobli and decided to trek to the base of Barag Hill under moonlight; it was a wonderful experience keeping in view the summer heat. We set on foot at 9 pm and reached the desired settlement (5150 feet above sea level) around 2 am-midnight after walking 15 kilometers. After a brief nap of few hours, I and Asad Mir left for the summit bid. Three local guides joined us for the hiking/trekking venture. By 8 am we were at the higher mountain terrace where we inquired about Barag summit; it transpired that the hill feature is called Pimazi or Suriya in Balochistan while Barag was its more common name in Sindh.

The author at the Barag Hill

In Balochi, (Ferangi) Chedag is used for marks mostly attributed to the British survey teams

From the hill terrace, we could see Chedag, the summit mark high above the lake where we sat for a break. In Balochi, (Ferangi) Chedag is used for marks mostly attributed to the British survey teams. The next half an hour of trekking took us to the exact summit point. I took out my cellphone to measure the altitude; it read 7109 feet asl. I had last measured Gorakh Hill Top at 6700 feet asl and Kutte Ji Kabar at 6985 feet asl. By that comparison, Barag Hill (Chedag Summit) happens to be the highest point in Kirthar Range. We tried to locate Gorakh from Barag summit but the haze that day prevented us. On a clear day, one can see either Gorakh Hill or Kutte Ji Kabar from Barag hilltop (I have seen Barag from Gorakh).

We could also observe other, closer heights from Barag Hilltop including those in Sindh and especially Thothro on the provincial boundary with Balochistan. Asad took few drone shots and I made a brief video on the top ridge. Few birds and flowers were also photographed before we headed back. Around 11 am we reached the base village using a different route to descend.

it tested our patience enough before we reached our vehicle the late afternoon

A good thing about Barag Hill is that it offers at least three routes to ascend or descend. We joined other fellows for the long walk back to Doble. 15 kilometers again and this time under the extreme heat of the day; it tested our patience enough before we reached our vehicle late afternoon. Again we visited the dip/water place and got fresh to continue the journey towards Khuzdar.

Villagers in the Gaaj area helped and hosted us with all the best they had in terms of food, shelter, and guidance. One of them fell ill whom we brought with us to Khuzdar for treatment. An informal health survey was also carried out during the visit; it will form the basis to establish the first-ever health facility in that region.

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