"The plain is called Pamir, and you ride across it for twelve days together, finding nothing but but a desert without habitations or any green thing, so
that travelers are obliged to carry with them whatever they have need of."
Perilous Pinnacles, Prized Pearl
Every foot we climbed, the temperature dropped and the air thinned, but nothing could stop our breath for what lied before us. Impossible yet spectacular peak after peak appeared then vanished in the mysterious mist, while the paved road weaved and crossed glaciated valleys. The fact that a paved road even exists around these massifs and frightening elevations proves the engineering capabilities of our modern world. But imagine being a merchant hundreds of years ago trying to brave these mountains and cross into China on the ancient Silk Road. Just ask Marco Polo, the Silk Road's most famous explorer who had to traverse this range to enter China for the first time. In the modern world, the Karakoram highway starts in Kashgar and heads south towards the Pamir Mountains, crossing soaring peaks, alpine lakes, glacial rivers, and stone ruins before heading into Pakistan through the highest international border in the world. We took the road to Takxorgan, an ancient outpost and likewise the furthest-west town in China right before the high pass to Pakistan. This proved to be an adventure for the ages.