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DROPPING SUPPLIES IN THE INDUS VALLEY--1948|
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.
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
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.
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.
Day 1, Rawalpindi/Islamabad
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.
2, Skardu ( 2,500 8,200 ft.)
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
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!
4, Korofong (3,500 m 11,480 ft)
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.
5, Bardumal (3,550 m 11,650 ft)
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.
6, Paiyu (3,666 m 12,025 ft)
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.
8, Khoburse (3,800 m 12,460 ft)
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.
9, Urdukas (3,950 m 12,950 ft)
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.
10, Goro (4,300 m 14,100 ft)
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!
12, Concordia (4,550 m 14,925 ft)
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.
Ali Camp (5,050 m 16,560 ft)
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.
14, Hispang (4,833 m 15,850 ft)
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!
15, Dalsam Pa (4,200 m 13,780 ft)
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
Day 16, Saitcho (3,400m 11,150 ft)
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.
17, Saitcho (3,400 m 11,150 ft)
You can play some volleyball in the heart of the Karakorams here!
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
Day 19, Skardu (2,500 m 8,200
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
flight, trek debriefing.
Day 21, Rawalpindi/Islamabad
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.
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