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K-2, "mountain of mountains," as referred to by Reinhold
Messner in the account of his 1979 ascent of this giant, is 8611 m. high.
is located in the heart of the Karakoram Range and can be seen in its entirety
from Concordia. This sublime pyramid sits at the head of the Godwin Austin Glacier
which unites with a second glacier at Concordia to form the mighty Baltoro Glacier.
Galen Rowell described Concordia as the "throne room of the mountain
Gods" after viewing the exceptional mountain needles ripping open the clouds
in blue expanse from the 5000 m. floor. Four peaks above 8000 m. sit within a
radius of only 21 km. from Concordia, honoring this site with the largest concentration
of the highest peaks on earth.
The journey to the second highest mountain
in the world begins with an overseas flight to Pakistan's capital, Islamabad.
One night is spent in Islamabad to obtain trekking permits and then it's off to
Skardu. Weather permitting, we will fly to Skardu; otherwise, we will travel by
The mountain flight offers fantastic views as the plane follows the
Indus River Valley and brushes past the ninth highest mountain in the world, Nanga
Parbat. Looking out the aircraft window one sees a vast ocean of peaks stretching
endlessly into the horizon. This area exemplifies "continents in collision"
with four of the world's greatest mountain ranges (Himalaya, Karakoram, Hindukush
and Pamir) emerging below.
Don't fret if bad weather bars this magnificent
plane ride for the drive to Skardu over the famous Karakoram Highway (KKH, the
old silk route) is just as spectacular. The drive takes two days with an overnight
Skardu (2500 m.) is the capital of Baltistan and gateway to
the high peaks of Northern Pakistan. After purchasing supplies and an overnight
rest in Skardu we will proceed by jeeps as far as the track is passable towards
Askolie. Askolie is located at 3300 m. and is the last village before reaching
Beyond Askolie is complete wilderness consisting of glaciers spouting
the beginnings of rivers with mountain guards of unimaginable heights lining their
beds. From Askolie we begin the walk taking two to three days to reach Paiyu Campsite
(3666 m.) situated under the majestic Paiyu Peak (6660 m.) with the tip of the
58 km. long Baltoro Glacier visible in the distance.
The next stage of
our journey takes us over the Baltoro Glacier to our destination, Concordia. The
walk on the Baltoro provides one with ultimate mountain scenery with such well
known mountains as Masherbrum (7852 m.), Uli Biaho Tower (6190 m.), Trango Towers
(6300 m.), the Grand Cathedral (5228 m.) and Muztagh Tower (7273 m.) shooting
up from this immense highway with sheer vertical lines that defy reality.
After four to five days we will reach 4691 m. at Concordia. Here one is encircled
by Marble Peak, K-2 (8611 m.), Broad Peak (8047 m.), Gasherbrum Group, Golden
Throne (7312 m.), Chogolisa (7654 m.) and Mitre Peak (6038 m.). Indeed, this is
"Throne room of the mountain gods." We will spend two to three days
at Concordia and then begin our return to Askole via the same route. Upon reaching
the lush green fields of Askolie a walk ends and a new way of viewing our earthly
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.
2, Skardu ( 2,500 m 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.
3, Askolie (3,300 m 10,800 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!
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.
Bardumal (3,550 m 12,000 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.
6, Paiyu (3,666 m 12,024 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.
7, Paiyu (3,666 m 12,024 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
Day 9, Urdukas (3,950 m 12,960):
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.
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.
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): 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 (4,800 m.); or go the other way towards the Gasherbrum peaks.
13, Goro (4,300 m 14,100 ft): Camp, Baltoro Glacier. Return to Goro camp site.
14, Urdukas (3,950 m 12,950 ft): Camp, Baltoro Glacier. Return to Urdukas
Day 15, Paiyu (3,666 m 12,025
ft): Camp, trek. We return to Paiyu camp site not stopping at Khobrse on the way
down. We are now well acclimatized and the walk down is not as hard as going up
and much quicker.
Day 16, Julla (3,550
m 11,650 ft): Camp, trek. We stop at Julla which is the place of crossing the
Domurda River. We do not stop at Bardumal on the way down.
17, Korofong (3,500 m 11,480 ft): Camp, trek. We return to Korofong camp site
after crossing the Domurda River.
Askolie (3,300 m 10,820 ft): Camp, trek. We return to the ‘metropolis’ of Askolie!
Well, at least it feels like one after being on the Baltoro.
19, Skardu ( 2,500 m 8,200 ft): Hotel, jeep drive. We return to a hot shower
and a warm comfortable bed!
Rawalpindi/Islamabad: Hotel, flight, trek debriefing.
21, Rawalpindi/Islamabad: Extra ‘cushion’ day!
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