Karakoram Great Traverse THE GREATEST MUSEUM OF SHAPE & FORM ON EARTH…FOSCO MARAINI GONDOGORO PASS K2 BASE CAMP TREK, Known as the most spectacular trek in the world, the traditional expedition route to K-2 (Chogori) 8611 M – the second highest mountain on Earth, cuts through the greatest concentration of some of the highest peaks […]
THE GREATEST MUSEUM OF SHAPE & FORM ON EARTH…FOSCO MARAINI
GONDOGORO PASS K2 BASE CAMP TREK, Known as the most spectacular trek in the world, the traditional expedition route to K-2 (Chogori) 8611 M – the second highest mountain on Earth, cuts through the greatest concentration of some of the highest peaks in the world. 08 of the world’s 30 highest peaks of the world stand around this unusual trek. The apex of this incredible trek is CONCORDIA one of the biggest piedmont glaciers of the world. It is a spectacular junction of Godwin Austin Glacier, Abruzzi Glacier and Baltoro Glacier. It banks, 06 peaks over 25,912 ft (7900 M) within a short radius of 07 miles (11 Km). The walk to Concordia, however, is not a task to be undertaken lightly. It’s a hard trek up and down the gorges, across rushing icy torrents, through broken rocks, over wire-rope bridges and through crevasse glaciers.
The incentive for this strenuous walk is undoubtedly equally rewarding. Chongo Brakk, Mango Gusar, Sobla, Chiring, Bakhordas, Bardumal, Liligo, Paiju, Trango Towers Group, Uli Biaho Towers, Mitre Peak, Muztagh Tower, Gasherbrum 3, 4, 5 & 6, Broad Peak, Chogolisa, Golden Throne, Sia Kangri, Angles, Marble Peak & the Mighty K-2 are just a few of the innumerable mountain vistas to be witnessed on this trek in addition to tranquil lakes, blossoming fruit orchards, meandering rivers, tumbling water falls and undulating sand dunes with a unique blend of the modest Balti culture marked with distinct language, architecture and dresses.
BIAFO HISPAR TREK, A river of pure white driven snow, less vast only than snow lake below, bounded on either side by chains of lofty nameless “Snow Kings” – Workman 1905. First explored by Sir Martin Conway in 1892. Later, the Workman Brothers in 1905 & further discoveries were made by Eric Shipton in 1939. The highlight of this trek is a great traverse across the Biafo-Hispar Glaciers – the longest ice corridor on earth, 116 Kms long. Our goal is Lukpo Lawo or the “Snow Lake” the biggest junction of glaciers on Earth, located North – East of these two gigantic glaciers. Encircled by unexplored & unnamed lofty peaks, it has a breath taking spectacle. The Workmans called Snow lake “A huge basin of ice & snow that seemed in no way of this world.”
Workman remarked the Biafo, “Its crevassed windings tend ever onward toward a greater environing beauty till they merge into the vast white ball of snow lake, where the bordering heights spread out and join hands in a peerless cirque of weird ice – covered towers befit to bivouac the god spirits of the Himalaya….”. Arriving snow lake, one feels like wandering in a dreamland. The Workmans called Snow Lake “a huge basin of ice & snow, unique we believe in the Himalayas, the diameter of which is over six miles, encircled by unexplored & unnamed ice peaks from 20,000 to 25,000 ft. As the sun flung its last flames of fire on the towering ice pinnacles, & the purple fangs of what might be called the Himalayan Aurora shot upward from the dull horizon to the blue zenith, one felt not only the overwhelming beauty but also the intangibility of a scene in no way of this world.”
Sir Martin Conway, on first seeing Snow lake was moved to say, “The view ahead absorbed all our attention. It was beyond all comparison the finest view of mountains it has been my lot to behold. Before us a basin of snow, bounded to the North & East by white ridges, to the south by the splendid row of needle peaks & from the midst of the snowy lake roar a series of mountain islands, white like the snow that buried their glares, & there were endless bays & straits… the contrast between this blank plain & the splintered needles that jutted their 10,000 feet of precipice into the area gave so extraordinary a character to the scene….. I forgot headache, food, everything, in the overwhelming impression this majestic scene produced upon me.”
After feasting our eyes to the incredible mountain vistas, we continue our thrill seeking trek towards Hispar Pass 5151 M just the East of Snow Lake. It connects the Biafo Glacier with Hispar to form the longest ice corridor 116 Km on Earth. The turbulent & broken surface of this majestic glacier winds its way down into the valley of Hispar in Nagar – a princely state in Hunza. The exuberance in confluence with dramatic display of the mighty Karakorams does not just subsides here, rather , it “ascends” while we “descend” the Hispar Glacier. Breath taking views of Kanjut Sar 7760 m, Tah Rutam 6651 m, Hispar wall 5952 – 6123 m, Makrong Chush 6608 m, Yutmaru Sar 7330 m, Pumari Chush 7492 m, Kunung Chush 7852 m, Bularung Sar 7200 m, Trivor 7728 m, Rashpari 5058 m, Diran Peak 7257 m, & innumerable unnamed peaks will elate our excitement to the equal heights.
On arrival at Hispar village, we embark our jeeps to Karimabad – the capital of Hunza, described by Eric Shipton as ” The ultimate manifestation of Mountain Grandeur”…. ! Yes the Legendary Hunza – whose very name is overwhelming ! is known for its towering snow covered peaks, creeping glaciers, fragrant apricot orchards & the longevity of its people. Lord Curson noted that “The little State of Hunza contains more summits of over 20,000 ft than there are of over 10,000 ft in the entire Alps”.
This magical land of contrasting geology abounds in glaciers too, including the 58 Kms (world’s 5th longest ) Batura Glacier. The Nubra, Braldu, Hushe and Saltoro Rivers are born in the Karakoram glacial vastness: the Shayok River encircles the entire flanks of the range: but only the Hunza river literally cuts through the width of the Karakoram Range. Hunza’s extreme isolation thus imposed by the unbelievably steep gorges of the Karakoram, rise to a long standing, wholly indigenous & pure diet consisting almost entirely of apricots, wheat and “Hunza Water”, a locally brewed wine, & hence the long living inhabitants. The hardy people of Hunza are thought to be the descendants of the Alexander’s lost column of army. Until 1974, Hunza remained a semi – autonomous princely state presided over by a benevolent “MIR” who personally held a daily court & the subjects paid taxes in shape of goods rather than money. Nestled under the shadows of Rakaposhi 7788 m, perches its capital Karimabad – guarded with centuries old sentinel of Altit & Baltit.
Our approach to Hunza is by jeep on the Karakoram Highway, a thin ribbon of pavement carved into the walls of the stupendous Karakoram. This road completed in 1978 , now links by pavement the ancient trails of Gilgit to Kashgar’s Silk Route. Replenishing our lost energies, tasting the 22 species of apricots in the blossoming orchards & beholding the breath taking views of the Ultar Group, Diran, Rakaposhi & Shispar will be the order of the day. We shall then take a jeep ride to the Khunjerab Pass 4703 m, the Natural Habitat & National Park for the very rare & protected “Marco Polo Sheep”. This pass is located right on the Pakistan-China border where we can reprint our footsteps into the Marco Polo’s which he carved centuries ago on this historic silk trading route.
We shall stay for a day at Karimabad, under the shadows of the towering Peaks before driving down the Karakoram Highway to Gilgit – which has been the transit lounge for the weary silk traders for many centuries. After sightseeing the Gilgit Bazaar & visiting the Gigantic Buddha sculpture engraved on a nearby mountain wall. From Gilgit we will take another short hike to the beautiful Fairy Meadows and Nanga Parbat base camp before driving down the Karakoram Highway feasting our eyes on the incredible vistas of the Mighty Indus. The memorable memories are now ours forever.
From Islamabad we fly over Kaghan valley, Nanga Parbat and the Karakorams to Skardu – the district head quarters of Baltistan and a gateway to the great Monoliths of Pakistan. Perched at a height of 7500 feet, Skardu is located amidst an impressive landscape, towering mountains, deep gorges, cascading waterfalls, creeping glaciers and quiet lakes. Skardu is in the heart of a towering frontier land. To its north lies the Sinkiang province of China, to the south Kashmir, to the West Gilgit and to the east the district of Ladakh in India. Skardu is the trekker and mountain climbers paradise. Nowhere can you find such a collection of lofty peaks and glaciers.
The Baltoro Glacier, the best known, is that spectacular conjunction of Godwin Austen and Baltoro glaciers called Concordia, lying in the heart of the most heavily glaciated region outside the polar areas. Within a radius of 12 miles rise six peaks over 20,000 feet. This is the center of the densest concentration of lofty peaks on earth. Some of these magnificent mountains in the Karakoram range are Masherbrum (25,600), Mustagh tower (23,690), K-2 (28,741), Broad Peak (26,400), Gasherbrum IV (26,810), Sia Kangri (24,350) Golden Throne (23,989), Mitre Peak (19,718), Chogolisa (25,110) and Hidden Peak (26,470).
After sightseeing the mountain desert, tranquil lakes, bustling Skardu bazaar and a 16th century Khorpocho Fort, for a day, We set off by jeep to Hushey – the last inhabited village and commence our exuberant trek with dozens of porters on the trails to the incredible wilderness of ice, rock and sky for over two weeks.
Although on the entire trek we are in absolute wilderness, we will take a colorful part of the Karakoram Culture with us. Our scores of lively Baltis who are tough enough to sing and dance after the hard day’s work. We will be invited to join in. There will be many memorable evenings listening to their songs and watching their dances.
Note :- Although we try to adhere to the schedule listed below, this itinerary is subject to change due to numerous reasons beyond our control such as bad weather, canceled or delayed flights, road washouts, vehicle breakdowns, accidents, sickness, govt restrictions, & all other unforseen exigencies.
Upon arrival met and transfer to your hotel in Rawalpindi. After a short rest drive to Islamabad for trek briefing at Ministry of Tourism and obtain trekking permit. Overnight hotel.
Fly to Skardu, If unable to fly, same day we will drive to Skardu, spending a night in Chilas.
Emergency day in case, flight does not operate on day 02 this day will be use to transfer the members by road from Chilas to Skardu. Total drive time from Islamabad to Skardu is 22-24 hours. Overnight hotel.
Free day for rest, shopping or sightseeing. while staff will make final arrangement for the trek. Overnight at your choosen hotel. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner included.
AM : Embark jeeps for a full day ride on a winding jeep trail to Hushey – The last inhabitance on our way to the Great Glaciers. Overnight in tents. All meals served by camp staff.
Note :-The road to Hushey also comes under rapid erosion and gets closed quite oftenly. If unable to jeep, the group will disembark & walk to Hushey on the same day or camp for overnight (subject to distance). Distance 140 Km, Drive 07-08 Hrs. Altitude M.
Today we leave the last inhabited village. For the remaining portion of our journey we rely on our porters who carry our food and equipments and sustain our expedition. Follow the east bank of the Hushey River along on a flat, easy path through fields of barley and peas, then turn east to follow the Charaksa River through scrubland and sparse willow woods to Odongstan, which is two hours from Hushey. This is a shepherds summer camp. A further hour takes you past the junction of the Gondogoro and Charaksa rivers, across a good wooden bridge to Shaitcho a large shepherds settlement with its won mosque, now here you can find a hotel and mountaineering equipment shop. This is the traditional first camp, where we will spent our first night among the forest of juniper, cedar and willow trees with giant bushes of wild roses and a good water supply. Overnight in tents All meals served by camp staff.
Walk : 03 – 04 hrs, Grade : Easy, Altitude : M,
The path follows the highest ridge of the lateral moraine through roses, gooseberries, cedar and tamarisk bushes, with views left leading down across the glacier and back to sheer rock walls and jagged crags. The trek is dusty and stony a steady, but not too steep. We will pass to the main summer settlement. Walk : 04-06 hrs, Grade : Easy, Altitude : M
Resume trek along the path continues towards north, outside of the lateral moraine, crossing several side streams. The trekking path turns down the lateral moraine to the edge of the glacier, 300 to 400 metres beyond the last stream. The next hour is an unpleasant scramble along the stony, sliding glacier edge, with huge boulders poised above, ready to fall. The ordeal ends with a steep climp up a gully in the lateral moraine, into a grassy field filled with flowers and wild rhubarb. Dalsangpa, meaning ‘field of flowers’, lives up to its name. It is a beautiful campsite at about 4,150 metres, set between two lakes, with Masherbrum Mountain and the white glacier cascading down from Masherbrum Pass reflected in the still water.
The path follows the ridge of the lateral moraine for a short while before dropping onto the glacier. You pick your way across moving boulders and ice, finally crossing the glacier to reach Khuspang/Gondogoro Base Camp, a grassy field at about 4600 metres. Overnight in tents. All meals served by camp staff.
Rest day for the members to explore the valley and walk around. Staff will distribute the ration among the porters and will preparation themself for next hard days. Overnight in tents. All meals included. Walk : 05-06 hrs, Grade : moderate, Altitude : 4600 M
A very early start as early as 2 or 3 Oclock in the morning to cross the Gondogoro la to reach Ali camp. The basic theme behind the early walk to reach the top of the Gondogoro Pass 5700 metres is that in the morning snow will be soft and you will not get tired quickly as the sun is not strong, but as sun get strong snow get soft, snow going to be melt and bring water and stones, also the chance of ice falls or averlanches. Overnight in tents. All meals served by camp staff.
Walk : 10 – 11 hrs, Grade : Strenous, Altitude : 5700 M
Note: During the climb of Gondogoro pass, we will hire local porters who camp their during all the summer season to provide assistance to trekker, mountaineers and porters to cross the Gondogoro La without any major difficulty.
Walk on the left side of Vigne glacier, it is also possible to walk on the Vigne glacier which is fairly easy then walking on the stony bath but it depend on the snow condition. Concordia – a huge junction of Baltoro, Abruzzi & Godwin Austin Glaciers at 4720 meters . Within a short radius of 15 Kilometers, stand 41 peaks over 6500 meters. including 04 peaks above 8000 M. The 360 view offers a panorama of peaks no where to be found on this Earth. Overnight in tents. All meals served by camp staff. Walk : 06-07 hrs, Grade : Moderate, Altitude : 4500 M.
After an early breakfast, resume a moderate walk on the Godwin Austin Glacier to K2 Base Camp 4 hours up and 2 hours down. Overnight in tents. All meals served by camp staff. Walk : 05 – 06 hrs, Grade : moderate, Altitude : 4500 M.
Begin outbound trek to Askole via Concordia, Goro, Urdukas, Khuburse, Paiju, & Korophone. End of Trek # 1. Overnight in tents. All meals served by camp staff.
Normal route to Baltoro glacier start?s from Askole village and it takes about 4-6 hours to reach Askole from here. We will turn west onto the Biafo Glacier – a huge river of ice 63 Km long which descends from the central peaks of the Karakoram & flows East into the Braldu Valley at a point about 10 Kms east of Askole. The glacier is dominated on either side by magnificent granite peaks. A short ascent over the left moraine to descend onto a camping site called Namla. Overnight & all meals in camp.
Walk : 03 – 04 Hrs, Grade : Easy, Altitude : 3374 M,
A short & moderate trek on the glacier to Mango. Overnight & all meals in camp.
Walk : 03- 04 Hrs, Grade : Moderate, Altitude : 3235 – 3639 M.
A comparatively longer walk on somewhat difficult trail. Overnight near the junction of Biafo-Baintha Glaciers. Overnight & all meals in camp.
Walk : 05-06 hrs, Grade : Strenuous, Altitude : 4428 M.
Trek on the crevassed Biafo to the Simgang-Biafo Junction. A hard & long day rewarded with breathtaking views of dozens of nameless peaks from 5060 m to Sosbun Brakk 6413 m. Overnight & all meals in camp. Walk : 06-07 Hrs, Grade : Strenuous, Altitude : 4472 M.
A strenuous walking day yet the most rewarding & perhaps the most memorable day of your life. Cruising first the crevassed glacier & later the upper ice flow, follow the footsteps of Conway, Shipton & Workmans’ to reach SNOW LAKE . The workmans, on their first sight of this magical place were bound to declare it “A huge basin of ice & snow that seemed in no way of this world.” Overnight & all meals in camp.
Walk : 04-05 Hrs, Grade : Strenuous, Altitude : 4950 M.
Depending on the physical ability & interests of the group we have allowed one day for exploration & minor climbs around the Snow lake. Meanwhile our porters will ferry the excess equipment & food across the Hispar Pass. Overnight & all meals in camp.
Today we begin our outbound trek. A moderate descend to the Hispar Base Camp.
Overnight & all meals in camp. Walk : 4-5 Hrs, Grade : Strenuous, Altitude : 4875 M.
An early rise to undertake an “Alpine Ramble” across the Hispar Pass 5151 M. Members must posses the basics & some experience of using ice axe, crampons & self arresting techniques. Good physique is mandatory. Descend to the base of the pass for overnight. All meals in camp. Climb : 07 – 08 hrs, Grade : Alpine, Altitude : 5151 to 4880 M.
Trekking under the shadows of Tah Rutum & Balchish Groups 5952 M to 6651 M, we descend the crevassed Hispar to Khani Basha Glacier and camp for the night. All meals in camp. Walk : 03-04 Hrs, Grade : Moderate, Altitude : 4650 M.
Walk to the base of Hargtum Peak and camp near Shirin Chush opposite to the Pumari Chush Glacier. Overnight in tents. All meals included.
Walk : 03-04 Hrs, Grade : Moderate, Altitude : Approx 4575 M,
Traversing the Pumari Chush Glacier we camp at Turman. All meals in camp.
Walk : 03-04 Hrs, Grade : Moderate, Altitude : 3860 M.
Trek to the newly made jeep trail of the Hispar village. This spectacular village is the last village of the Nagar. Inhabited by the colorful & peaceful followers of Prince Karim Agha Khan, this spectacular valley domains blossoming fruit orchards & multi terraced fields irrigated by the rich mineral laden waters of the Hispar, Trivor, Barpu, Bualtar & the Silkiang Glaciers. Walk : 05-06 Hrs, Grade : Moderate, Altitude : 2300 M.
AM : Frequent halts at many small hamlets of Nagar on our way to Karimabad – the capital of Hunza famous around the world for its fruit orchards & longevity of its people.
Hunza’s 35000 inhabitants have been ruled by the same family since the 11th century. A legend relates that the Hunzakuts, (as the people of Hunza are known) are the descendants of the 05 lost soldiers of the Alexander’s Army. Brushuski, an aboriginal language is spoken in the central Hunza & Wakhi, related to Chinese Turkistan is spoken in the upper Gojal. Hunzakuts lived off the fruits of caravan- raiding, slave trading & attacking their neighbors. The kingdom retained isolated independence until the British took over in 1891 and became part of Pakistan in 1974. The society is co-operative rather than competitive. Each family grows enough food for its own use. As the Hunzakuts lived aloof from the outer world, each citizen was self sufficient in making his own shoes, clothes & bowls, until, the Karakoram Highway linked them with the world. The people are cheerful & friendly. Almost the entire population belongs to the Ismaili Shias sect headed by the Prince Kareem Agha Khan. The women wear bright clothes, long shirts over baggy trousers and little embroided pillbox hats over which they drape their shawls. Hunza’s extreme isolation thus imposed by the unbelievably steep gorges of the Karakoram, rise to a long standing, wholly indigenous & pure diet consisting almost entirely of apricots, wheat and “Hunza Water”, a locally brewed wine, & hence the long living inhabitants. On arrival transfer to Hotel in Karimabad. PM : Rest & leisure Breakfast in camp, Lunch, Dinner & Overnight at your Hotel in Karimabad. Distance : 48 Kms, Drive : 2 Hrs. Altitude : 2440 M.
AM : Sightseeing Excursion of Karimabad & Aliabad towns on Jeep visiting several hamlets, streets & bazaars. We will taste delicious apricots & discover the secrets of the longevity of the people. At noon return to your Hotel for Lunch.
PM : Proceed for a sightseeing excursion of the 400 years old forts of Altit & Baltit. Below the Ultar Glacier, this 400 year old sentinel is said to be made by a princess who married to a reigning MIR & brought with her from Baltistan, a few masons, carpenters & craftsmen to build Baltit Fort as part of her Dowry. It stands on a cliff edge; behind the fort is the deep ravine of the Ultar stream. Its a curious rambling old palace with 53 rooms scattered on three stories. It contains guest rooms, prisons, storerooms, kitchens & dowager Queen’s Apartments. The museum room has a collection of weapons & drums. Altit Fort is even more impressive than Baltit & is perhaps 100 years older than Baltit. Perched on a sheer rocky cliff of 1000 ft, it overlooks the Hunza River & renders a picturesque view of the entire valley. Evening return to Hotel. All meals at the Hotel.
AM : Drive to Gilgit. Transfer to Hotel.
Gilgit is the Capital of Northern Pakistan is a thriving frontier town that has expanded rapidly to include over 40,000 inhabitants since the Karakoram Highway was opened in 1978. It sits in a wide irrigated bowl 1500 meters above sea level at the Eastern end of the Gilgit Valley. The quaint little town of Gilgit has a cluster of interesting places in it short radius, including a beautiful rock carving of Buddha, a victory monument of Taj Mughal, built 700 years ago and the longest suspension bridge in Asia ( 600 ft long ) The favorite sport in Gilgit is Polo, which the locals claim originated here. It is a more rugged style than the sedate variety known in the plains. The polo tournament held in the 1st two weeks of November is a festive occasion and attracts a large number of spectators.
PM : Proceed for sightseeing excursion of Gilgit.
The Kargah Nulla is famous for its huge rock carving. This sculpture was carved in seventh century. A monastery, 03 stupas and Gilgit manuscripts were also found in the vicinity between 1931-39. They are now housed in London, Delhi, Rome and Karachi. The interesting legend behind this sculpture narrates – the villagers asked a passing saint to help them get rid of a man- eater ogress called Yakhshini who lived at Kargah. The saint succeeded in pinning her to the rock and declared she won,t bother them for as long as he was alive, however, if they buried him at the foot of the rock, she would never be free. So the villagers killed the saint and buried him below the rock. The Yakhshini is still slave and villagers are now safe.
The Gilgit bazaar is famous for its handicrafts such as woolen gowns known as chughas, waist coats, shoes, musical instruments, silver jewelry, caps, woolen rugs and embroideries. The Gilgit town has also become a major dry port for trade between Pakistan and China through Khunjerab Pass. Due to this dramatic reform one can easily purchase China wares, paintings, silk clothes, glass and various other Chinese products of excellent quality.
Later, proceed to Chinar Bagh, where trees as much as 300 years old haughtily overlook the Gilgit river. This beautiful park is adorned with a bronze ibex mounted on a tall marble pillar. The monument was built to pay tribute to the local soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the liberation of their motherland.
On our way back to hotel, we will drive across the Asia’s longest suspension bridge (600 ft long 6 ft wide). Overnight at Hotel. All meals included.
Distance : 120 Kms, Drive : 03 Hrs, Altitude 1500 M.
AM : Drive to Islamabad for about 16 hours from Gilgit. Transfer to Hotel.
AM : Debriefing at Ministry of Tourism. PM, Transfer to airport to embark departing for YOUR DESTINATION at hrs.
END OF SERVICES