‘A Pass Too Far’ by Lawrence Bransby

The writing of Lawrence Bransby (accompanied by photos from son Gareth) has appeared between the covers of Overland Magazine a few times and although we’d love to see some of his expansive journeys in print as tangible books, for now at least, if you want to read of his years on the road, you’ll need to do it via a digital reading service such as Kindle.
Central Asia is where the Bransby’s have had more than their fair share of adventure, and just one of his books “A Pass Too Far” tells the story of their second and third trips in pursuit of the legendary Bartang Pass, along one of the most scenic routes in the Pamirs region of Tajikistan.
The Pamir people are famous for their hospitality and kindness, despite their material poverty, which is something the intrepid pair would find themselves relying on when circumstances forced them to abandon one of the bikes, watched over by Gareth, deep in the wild Pamirs near the 4,432m Aghbai Mats pass. Hence the title of their story.
Lawrence’s portrayal of the events, including the rescue of his son, is evocative of the matter-of-fact attitude required for survival. He also had the presence of mind to record a conversation with Gareth about what it had been like to wait in the wilderness, hoping that the other bike carrying his dad had made it to somewhere for help. This is a pivotal point in the trip and all the better for including both riders’ accounts of their temporary separation.
I particularly like his relaxed description of the many conversations involved when finding food, shelter and repairs, often without a common language, along the road and at border crossings. He really manages to bring their journey to life.
More than 80 photographs illustrate the people and places, tracks and architecture they encounter along the way. These serve to add context and confirmation to Lawrence’s effortless writing style, which really brings their story to life.
By Nich Brown
251 pages
Kindle Edition £2.98