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Expedition Gondogoro La

Altitude: 5940m 19,500ft Max / Season: June-Sep / 21 Days
View of KarakoramTrango TowersAscend the La

Trek to Gondogoro La

Pakistan Itinerary

rest day
 rest day
 Ali Camp
 Dalsam Pa
 rest day

The view from the summit of this nearly 5700 m. pass (Gondogoro La) is beyond description. In the opinion of many, it is simply the finest mountain panorama in the world. K-2, Broad Peak, the four Gasherbrums, Trinity Peak, Laila Peak and a multitude of lesser pinnacles touch the heavens all around you.

One must make an extra effort from Concordia to see this spectacle. The trek to the top of the Gondogoro La includes some 60 degree ice and snow slopes climbs that require the use of an ice axe, crampons, harness, helmet, ropes and carabiners.

The first leg of the trek takes us to Concordia (see the K-2 Trek description for this trip segment). Upon leaving Concordia we hike up to Ali Camp, situated above the Vigne Glacier. The fluted and icy-white slopes of Chogolisa tower in front of us, reminiscent of a wedding gown, which gives Chogolisa its other name: Bride Peak.

At 2:00 A.M. we leave Ali Camp for Gondogoro La. We trek in darkness across the Vigne Glacier, reaching the bottom of the pass by early dawn at around 5:00 A.M. The morning light illuminates the immense snow walls that surround us. Ropes are fixed on the steepest slopes and we begin our ascent; cresting the Gondogoro La by 9:00 A.M.

Slowly, the shark-like summit of mighty K-2 emerges above a nearby ridge, crowning the scene with its second-highest-mountain-on-the-planet glory. After a few spellbinding minutes on top of Gondogoro La, we make a steep descent into the glaciated valley utilizing strategically-placed fixed ropes as aids.

By midday we reach Hispang, a beautiful campsite at 4833 m. We rest by a glacial stream surrounded by swaths of colorful mountain flowers and gentle green slopes. The next leg of our journey is three or four days of easy trekking down to Hushe village.

On the way we pass shining alpine lakes, shepherds in their meadows and ancient villages. Masherbrum (7821 m.) shyly reveals her other side as we approach Hushe. Hushe is eastern Baltistan's counterpart to Askolie, and home to many of the best climbers and mountaineers in Pakistan.

We meet our jeeps upon arrival, and wind above the Shyok River and past the town of Khapulu. Here, we get our last look at vistas unchanged since the time of Marco Polo. After crossing the famous confluence of the mighty Indus and Shyok Rivers, we continue through landscapes of overwhelming scenic intensity to the busy town of Skardu. Our passage out of the high mountains is now complete, and our return to Islamabad is either by road or air.

Detailed Itinerary - Expedition to Gondogoro La

Day 1, Rawalpindi/Islamabad

Hotel, trek briefing. We will have ample time for sightseeing and shopping in colorful old bazaars of Rawalpindi and new markets of Islamabad. We may also drive to the huge modern Faisal Mosque in Islamabad.

Day 2, Skardu ( 2,500  8,200 ft.)

Hotel, flight. We will be on the most fantastic commercial flight in the world taking us from Islamabad to Skardu. If the weather is bad, we will drive in two days on the famous KKH to Skardu.

Day 3, Askolie (3,300 m 10,825 ft)

Camp, jeep drive. It takes about six hours to drive from Skardu to Askolie or near Askolie. The drive through the Braldu Gorge is guaranteed to knock your socks off!

Day 4, Korofong (3,500 m 11,480 ft)

Camp, trek begins. The walk from Askolie to Korofong is on an easy gentle plain and can be done in 6 to 8 hours. We cross the snout of the Biafo Glacier on the way. The first sight of the pinnacles of the Paiyu Group is stunning.

Day 5, Bardumal (3,550 m 11,650 ft)

Camp, trek, river crossing. We follow the Braldu and the Biaho rivers to a river’s edge campsite. On the way we have to cross the Domurda River coming out of Choktoi and Panmah Glaciers. This crossing is done on a ‘garari’ or on a bridge upstream. Depending upon the time it takes for the crossing, the walk can take 8 hours or more.

Day 6, Paiyu (3,666 m 12,025 ft)

Camp, trek. This takes about 6 hours of walking and will give us our first sight of the mighty Baltoro Glacier and the Trango and Cathedral Groups. Paiyu is the last campsite before the Baltoro. Efforts are underway to clear out the pollution and there has also been a recent plantation of many trees in the area. The walk follows the Biaho River all the way to Paiyu. The campsite is perched high above the valley with excellent views.

Day 7, Paiyu (3,666 m 12,025 ft)

Camp, rest day. Wash up, relax, read, climb on a steep ridge behind the camp, sing and dance with the porters! Depending upon the size of the party, goats or a goat will be sacrificed and meat will be distributed to the porters as a form of thanksgiving and to bring us good luck on our next day’s walk on the Baltoro.

Day 8, Khoburse (3,800 m 12,460 ft)

Camp, trek on Baltoro Glacier. Six to eight hours of walking. A tough day as we climb on the rocky moraines of the Baltoro, but the sight of Baltoro pinnacles and Paiyu Peak is astounding! An earlier alternative campsite is Liligo, but there is no water there. We will cross some gushing streams on the way.

Day 9, Urdukas (3,950 m 12,950 ft)

Camp, Baltoro Glacier. A short 4 hour plus walk on the rocky moraines and ablation valley of the Baltoro. We will cross couple of icy side glaciers on the way and may have our first sight of Broad Peak and the Gasherbrums. The historical campsite is located on a grassy slope high above the Baltoro and commands one of the most intense mountain views in this world. The campsite was prepared by the Duke of Abruzzi in the beginning of this century.

Day 10, Goro (4,300 m 14,100 ft)

Camp, Baltoro Glacier. This is a tough day’s walk on the undulating Baltoro. However, the footing becomes easy as the rocks become smaller and smaller as we move up the Baltoro. It takes about 8 hours to get to Goro. We walk right smack up the center moraine of the Baltoro. As Masherbrum emerges on the right, it takes our breath away and so does Gasherbrum 4 right in front of us. Goro is a cold campsite! It has a great view of the Muztagh Tower.

Day 11, Concordia (4,550 m 14,925 ft)

Camp, Baltoro Glacier. An easy 4 hour plus walk. As we enter the Throne Room of the Mountain Gods and see K2 emerging on our left, we feel that we have arrived at a very special place on the planet. For many, it is lifelong goal and a pilgrimage to come here. A place of superlatives and without any parallels!

Day 12, Concordia (4,550 m 14,925 ft)

Camp, rest, explore base camps. You can just sit and watch K2 all day long and sip tea; which many have done and have still not been able to fully get K2 in their system! Or you can go on a long whole day tiring trip to K2 Base Camp; or go the other way towards the Gasherbrum peaks.

Day 13, Ali Camp (5,050 m 16,560 ft)

Camp, trek on Vigne Glacier. This is done in 6 plus hours. The first few hours are difficult going as we get on the Vigne Glacier from the Baltoro. Once on the Vigne it is a straight forward uphill walk on a white hard glacier; a big relief from the Baltoro. Ali Camp is surprisingly a warmer camp when compared to Goro and Concordia. It is located on a bird’s nest like small rocky area above the Vigne. The view looking down towards Concordia and K2 is powerful.

Day 14, Hispang (4,833 m 15,850 ft)

Leave Ali Camp 2:00 a.m., cross Gondogoro La (5,700 m.), descend Gondogoro Glacier, arrive Hispang campsite at 2:00 p.m., long tough day. Wow! What a day! This is the apex of the whole trip. The first part of the walk is in darkness over rocks. As we enter the upper Vigne basin, we get on ice and snow. The route has been set for us and we walk while being cautious of crevasses. The ascent begins around 5:00 a.m. Ropes have been fixed for us. We should be on top of the pass before 9:00 a.m. All along we are helped and assisted by the staff. Simply said: from Gondogoro La top, there is no other comparable mountain view on this planet! The descent is harder and steeper than the ascent. Ropes again have been fixed and we basically descend about three pitches with the help of ropes. Once again, we are assisted at every step by the staff. Walking into the lush green Hispang Campsite with a running shallow sandy stream is like entering into heaven!

Day 15, Dalsam Pa (4,200 m 13,780 ft)

Camp, trek, Gondogoro Glacier. The most difficult part of this leg is located where we get off the Gondogoro Glacier and is a very small section of the walk. For most of the way it is a gentle and beautiful walk to Dalsam Pa. It takes about 4 hours.

Day 16, Saitcho (3,400m 11,150 ft)

Camp, trek. We slowly come back to civilization as we travel through high villages and summer pastures of the people from Hushe. There are awesome views of K6 and K7 towards our left on this walk. This takes about 4 hours.

Day 17, Saitcho (3,400 m 11,150 ft)

Camp, rest. You can play some volleyball in the heart of the Karakorams here!

Day 18, Hushe (2,750 m.)

Camp, trek. We walk for about 3 hours and have fantastic views of Masherbrum on the right. We have successfully circumnavigated this mighty peak! Hushe is a much more affluent village than Askolie.

Day 19, Skardu (2,500 m 8,200 ft)

Hotel, jeep drive. It takes about 8 hours on the jeep to Skardu from Hushe. On the way we cross the Shyok River near Khapulu. The rising sharp pinnacles from the sandy bed of the Shyok is a powerful sight. Lower down, crossing the Indus on Humayun Bridge at its famous and historical confluence with the Shyok is also a thrill.

Day 20, Rawalpindi/Islamabad

Hotel, flight, trek debriefing.

Day 21, Rawalpindi/Islamabad

Extra ‘cushion’ day!

Note: Day 21 will be used as a ‘cushion’ day in case of delays in travel due to weather, route change, health, acclimatization issues during the trek, etc.

This is a tentative itinerary.  For the enjoyment of your trip a ‘go with the flow’ attitude is necessary.  Many factors will influence your trip, such as weather conditions, health, route conditions, etc.  Please do not take this itinerary very seriously!

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