Istor-o-Nal Peak Expedition
Istor o Nal is the third-highest mountain in the Hindu Kush, located in the Chitral District of the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan. It ranks 68th among the highest independent peaks globally. This mountain crowns a massif with eleven peaks, all soaring above 7,000 meters. An expedition to Istor o Nal offers a journey through the breathtaking Hindu Kush Mountains of Pakistan, with awe-inspiring views of majestic mountains and glaciers. This expedition includes various services such as hotel booking, government permits (for peaks above 7,000m), domestic flights, chefs, tour guides, visa assistance, porters, camping equipment, daily food, and kitchen equipment.
Istor o Nal is situated just a few kilometers northeast of Tirich Mir, which is the highest mountain in the Hindu Kush range. However, due to its positioning behind Tirich Mir, it is not easily visible, making it relatively unknown to many.
The word "Istoro Nal" means "horseshoe" in the local Chitrali language, with "Istor" meaning "horse." The exact origin of the name remains to be determined.
Istor o Nal was first successfully climbed on June 8, 1955, by a team of American climbers led by Pakistani Major Ken Bankwala. They followed the west ridge, commencing from the south side of the peak on the Tirich Glacier. This achievement marked the second-highest summit attained by Americans at the time.
The primary summit, standing at 7,403 meters, was conquered by a Spanish expedition in 1969 led by Anglada. Notably, two of the eleven peaks in the massif, the North East Peak at 7,276 meters and the East Peak at 7,100 meters, remain unclimbed.
In 2000, a Swiss expedition led by Simon Perritaz attempted to reach the unclimbed North East Peak at 7,276 meters with eight team members. Unfortunately, they could not reach the summit due to rope shortage, time constraints, and adverse weather conditions. These two unclimbed peaks continue to pose a significant challenge to mountaineers.
The mountain has a rich history of climbing attempts. Major Dutton, Captains Burn, Coldstream, and Culverwell made the first attempt in 1929. In 1935, Lt. D. Hunt and Col. R. J. Lawder made a significant effort, reaching a point just 200 feet below the summit
The trekking route to Istor-o-Nal starts from Shagrom, the uppermost village of Terich Valley. It is approximately 135 km from Chitral Town and 60 km from Buni, the headquarters of the upper Chitral sub-division. The journey to Shagrom can be accomplished by jeep, with the road extending up to Shagrom or taking a route through Zani Pass.
The base camp is set at Babu Camp-Terich Concordia, situated 30 km away from Shargom. The route to the base camp is divided into four stages, and it can be completed in a 3-day trek:
- Shagrom to Sherniak (3540m) - 13 km, 5-6 hours trek.
- Sherniak to Shughur Baisun (4038m) - 12 km, 5-6 hours.
- Shughur Baisun to BC (4700m) - 10 km, 5-6 hours trek.
Best Climbing Season:
The best season for climbing Istor o Nal is from June to the end of September.
Hindu Kush Range:
Istor o Nal is a part of the Hindu Kush range, a mountain range extending over 800 km in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. These mountains straddle the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and merge with the Himalayas and Karakorum content in the Northern Areas of Pakistan. The region is known for its stunning valleys, including Badakhsan and Chitral Valley.