BIAFO-HISPAR-SNOW LAKE TREK
Special Fixed departure August 6, 2012 led by Mr. Clemens - Australian
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.
The immensity of grandeur witnessed in this seldom visited region of the great geological upheavals exceeds one's vocabulary. Located in the central Karakorams in the west of Baltoro Glacier, this magnificent land of pristine beauty was first explored by Sir Martin Conway in 1892. Later, the Workman Brothers made a similar untapping 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."From Islamabad we fly over Nanga Parbat & Karakorams to Skardu - the Headquarters of Baltistan & gateway to the great monoliths of the Karakorams. After sightseeing Skardu Bazaar, Satpara lake & Khorpocho Fort, we leave for Askole the next day on jeeps & begin our major undertaking with dozens of porters. Watching the spectacular Chakpo, Chongo Brakk, Mango Gusar, Namla Testay, Bardumal, Paiju, Sobla Brakk, Bakhordas & Soblang peaks - all from 5000 M to 6600 M, we follow the same trails the Baltoro Trek does for the first day. Trespassing Askole, We leave behind the human inhabitance & enter into an incredible wilderness of ice, rock & sky. We 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. Baintha Brakk 7285 m being the highest over shadows Chuapisha 5361 m, Sosbun Brakk 6413 m, Latok 7151 m, Gamba Sokh Lumbu 6282 m, Dongbar 6282 m, & many other peaks, all but above 5000 meters.
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."
Depending on the physical ability & interests of the group we have allowed three days for exploration & minor climbs around the Snow lake. Note: This days can be cut short to make a less days itinerary.
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.
In the words of Workmans, " 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" and East of the pass is the Hispar Glacier, from the Northern side of which rise picturesque 23,000 ft ice-encrusted peaks".
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 Gulmit, the prettiest valley of Hunza 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, we shall either embark our Islamabad bound flight cruising once again the mighty Karakorams or drive down the Karakoram Highway feasting our eyes on the incredible vistas of the Mighty Indus. The memorable memories are now ours forever.
24 DAYS ITINERARY
Operation : Mid June to Mid September, Grade : Moderate + strenuous, Trek : 14 days, Maximum Height : 5151 meters, Jeep : 02 days, Zone : Open, Route : Circular, Start : Islamabad/Skardu, End : Islamabad/Islamabad.
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, sickness, Govt restrictions etc.
YOUR HOMELAND -TO- ISLAMABAD
Departure from -------- by ------- at ------- hrs.
RAWALPINDI / ISLAMABAD/ TAXILA
Arrival at Islamabad Airport at -------- hrs. Met & transferred to Hotel.
The twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad are situated at the edge of Potohar Plateau & 25 minutes apart by car. Rawalpindi was originally known as Fatehpur Boari. It was destroyed during 14th century by a Mughal invasion & remained deserted for a number of years. 350 years ago,during the reign of Emperor Jehangir, a Sikh Saint by the name of Rawal Jogi came to the deserted Fatehpur Boari & was instrumental in recreating the glory of the city. In appreciation the town became known as Rawalpindi. Today, Raja Bazaar, Saddar & Murree Road are the main shopping centers. The cantonment area created by the Britishers is comparatively a new establishment. It has a saddar Bazaar with modern shops & has subsequently become the hub of all shopping.
Islamabad on the other hand,is a city that is barely a quarter century old. Two sleepy villages, Saidpur & Nurpur existed here prior to the sudden sprouting of buildings. This gleaming new capital of Pakistan is a superb example of modern architecture. Almost 350 square miles site has been set aside for parks.
Taxila. Located 35 miles from Rawalpindi, Taxila, was once the hub of oriental culture. Originating from the Satrapy of Achaemenian Empire in the 6th century it was subjugated by Alexander in 327 B.C and passed on to the other rulers until it reached the hands of Ashoka the Great who molded this city into a center of philosophy, art & education. The creative Gandhara period flourished shortly thereafter and Taxila remained a prosperous city. It came to a disastrous end when sacked by the white Huns. Today, Taxila is an archaeologist's paradise. It contains a well maintained museum whose 8 mile circumference contains 8 archaeological sites. Among the best preserved are Sirkap, Julian, Mohra Muradu & Bhirmond.
Overnight at Hotel including Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner.
ISLAMABAD -TO- SKARDU
Transfer to Islamabad Airport to embark flight (weather permitting) to Skardu. This flight is the most spectacular mountain flight in the world. Flying over Nanga Parbat & Karakorams, we arrive at Skardu (7000 ft), the District head quarters of Baltistan and the Gateway to the great Monoliths of Pakistan. Perched at a height of 7500 Ft, Skardu is the trekkers' & climbers' paradise.
On arrival met and transferred to hotel.
Sightseeing excursion to Sadpara lake - the lake of hundred lights, Khorpocho Fort - a 16th century fort constructed by Queen Mandiq on a steep ridge and Skardu Bazaar - a single lane village bazaar displaying rich culture.
Overnight at Hotel with Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner.
Note :- Confirmation of all the North Bound flights is subject to clear weather & clearance of back log. If unable to fly, the group will be transferred to Skardu by road (22 hrs) with an overnight at Chilas.
Full day at leisure. The group may enjoy, tennis, boating, horse riding or a short walk to Upper Kachura Lake just a couple of miles above the resort, while our staff will make local purchases
Note :- If unable to fly yesterday, this day will be used to complete road journey to Skardu.
Overnight at hotel. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner included.
SKARDU -TO- THONGAL / ASKOLE
Embark jeeps for a full day ride on a winding jeep trail to Askole - The last inhabitance on our way to the Great Glaciers. Highest in the region, the stone & timber abodes contain dark & narrow stairwells riven by gloomy, unlit alleys cluster within the embrace of the fertile terraces.
On arrival our staff will pitch tents for overnight.
Note :-The road to Askole has been repair and completed time by time but undergoing rapid erosion and gets closed quite oftenly. If unable to jeep, the group will disembark & walk to Askole on the same day or camp for overnight (subject to distance).
Distance 96 Km, Drive 08 Hrs. Altitude 3109 M.
ASKOLE -TO- NAMLA
If travelled by jeeps to Askole, we will begin our actual trek today. We follow the same trails the Baltoro Trek does for the first day. Trespassing Askole, (3104 M) We leave behind the human inhabitance & enter into an incredible wilderness of ice, rock & sky. We 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,
NAMLA -TO- MANGO
A short & moderate trek on the glacier to Mango. Overnight & all meals in camp.
Walk : 03- 04 Hrs, Grade : Moderate, Altitude : 3235 - 3639 M.
MANGO -TO- BAINTHA
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.
BAINTHA -TO- SIMGANG
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.
SIMGANG -TO- SNOW LAKE
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.
DAY 11 - DAY 13
Depending on the physical ability & interests of the group we have allowed three days 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.
SNOW LAKE -TO- HISPAR PASS
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.
CROSS HISPAR PASS
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.
HISPAR BASE -TO- KHANI BASHA
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.
KHANI BASHA -T0- HARGTUM
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,
HARGTUM -TO- TURMAN
Traversing the Pumari Chush Glacier we camp at Turman. All meals in camp.
Walk : 03-04 Hrs, Grade : Moderate, Altitude : 3860 M.
TURMAN -TO- HISPAR VILLAGE
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.
END OF TREK. Overnight in tents. All meals included.
Walk : 05-06 Hrs, Grade : Moderate, Altitude : 2300 M.
HISPAR VILLAGE -TO- KARIMABAD
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.
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.
KARIMABAD -TO- GILGIT
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 Serena Lodge. All meals included.
AM : After an early breakfast, transfer to Gilgit Airport to embark the one hour weather permitting flight to Islamabad. Flying once again over the Karakorams, Nanga Parbat & Kaghan Valley, arrive at Islamabad airport. Met & transferred to Hotel.
PM : For rest & Shopping.
Overnight at your Hotel including lunch & dinner.
NOTE : - Confirmation of all the North Bound flights is subject to clear weather & clearance of back log. If unable to fly, the group will be transferred by road to Rawalpindi (14-16 hrs).
ISLAMABAD -TO- BACK HOME
AM : Transfer to airport to embark -------- departing for -------- at ------- hrs.
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