K2 South Baltoro and Ghondogoro La in Baltistan, Pakistan

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Islamabad, the main mosque.

Islamabad, the main mosque.

The bazar in Rawalpindi

The bazar in Rawalpindi

Rawalpindi

Rawalpindi

Rawalpindi

Rawalpindi

Rawalpindi Bazar

Rawalpindi Bazar

Street food in Rawalpindi

Street food in Rawalpindi

Rawalpindi

Rawalpindi

Rawalpindi

Rawalpindi

Carper salesman in Rawalpindi.

Carper salesman in Rawalpindi.

Abbottabad. The final home of Osama Bin Laden!

Abbottabad. The final home of Osama Bin Laden!

One of many colourfully decorated trucks along the Karakoram Highway.

One of many colourfully decorated trucks along the Karakoram Highway.

Along the Karakoram Highway (KKH)

Along the Karakoram Highway (KKH)

A tea shop stop along the KKH

A tea shop stop along the KKH

Indus River and the Karakoram Highway. The section between Chilas and Skardu.

Indus River and the Karakoram Highway. The section between Chilas and Skardu.

Chilas

Chilas

Skardu. The Skardu fort is located on the right side of the rocky outcrop in the middle of the valley.

Skardu. The Skardu fort is located on the right side of the rocky outcrop in the middle of the valley.

The road from Skardu to Askole

The road from Skardu to Askole

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The road from Skardu to Askole had many washed out sections.

The road from Skardu to Askole had many washed out sections.

Leaving Skardu, packed and ready!

Leaving Skardu, packed and ready!

The road from Skardu to Askole

The road from Skardu to Askole

The road from Skardu to Askole.

The road from Skardu to Askole.

Askole - the shaky bridge over the Braldu River.

Askole - the shaky bridge over the Braldu River.

Askole, the chief of the village.

Askole, the chief of the village.

School kids in Askole

School kids in Askole

Askole, the end of the road for the jeeps.

Askole, the end of the road for the jeeps.

Day 1, hike from Askole to Korophon. We hiked for 12 km on the dusty trail passing the snout of the Biafo Glacier along the way.

Day 1, hike from Askole to Korophon. We hiked for 12 km on the dusty trail passing the snout of the Biafo Glacier along the way.

The bridge over the Braldu River on the trail from Askole to Korophon. This bridge does not exist any more.

The bridge over the Braldu River on the trail from Askole to Korophon. This bridge does not exist any more.

Trail construction on the trail near Jula camp.

Trail construction on the trail near Jula camp.

Looking towards the Paju Peaks on the trail from Akole to Korophon.

Looking towards the Paju Peaks on the trail from Akole to Korophon.

Day 2, trail from Korophon to Jula. We had 2 goats for the porters to kill and eat in Paju.

Day 2, trail from Korophon to Jula. We had 2 goats for the porters to kill and eat in Paju.

Making chapatis in Paju camp in preparation for the Baltoro Glacier.

Making chapatis in Paju camp in preparation for the Baltoro Glacier.

Day 3, Paju Camp, the porters killed and ate the goats before getting on the Baltoro Glacier.

Day 3, Paju Camp, the porters killed and ate the goats before getting on the Baltoro Glacier.

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Between Korophon and Jula camps.

Between Korophon and Jula camps.

The Baltoro Glacier

The Baltoro Glacier

The Cathedral Towers from the trail between Paju and Khoburtse. The pointy peak is Lobsang Spire 5,707m

The Cathedral Towers from the trail between Paju and Khoburtse. The pointy peak is Lobsang Spire 5,707m

Day 4, on the trail from Paju to Khoburtse. Lobsang Spire is directly ahead.

Day 4, on the trail from Paju to Khoburtse. Lobsang Spire is directly ahead.

The view of Lobsang Spire and the Mustagh Tower hiding behind. From the camp at Khoburtse.

The view of Lobsang Spire and the Mustagh Tower hiding behind. From the camp at Khoburtse.

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Uli Biaho 6,417m and Paju Peak from Khoburtse camp.

Uli Biaho 6,417m and Paju Peak from Khoburtse camp.

Paju Peak and the Paju Icefall.

Paju Peak and the Paju Icefall.

The Great Trango Tower 6,286m (right) and the Nameless Tower 6,230m (left) from the trail between Paju and Khoburtse camps. On Day 5 we walked from Khoburtse to Urdukas.

The Great Trango Tower 6,286m (right) and the Nameless Tower 6,230m (left) from the trail between Paju and Khoburtse camps. On Day 5 we walked from Khoburtse to Urdukas.

The Nameless Tower 6,230m from the trail on Day 4.

The Nameless Tower 6,230m from the trail on Day 4.

From the left to right: Uli Biaho Tower 6,109m, The Great Trango Tower 6,286m, the Nameless Tower 6,230m and Thunmo Cathedral 5,866m from Urdukas on the morning of Day 6.

From the left to right: Uli Biaho Tower 6,109m, The Great Trango Tower 6,286m, the Nameless Tower 6,230m and Thunmo Cathedral 5,866m from Urdukas on the morning of Day 6.

The Thunmo Cathedral 5,866m from Urdukas.

The Thunmo Cathedral 5,866m from Urdukas.

The great Trango Tower and the Nameless Tower 6,230m View from Urdukas

The great Trango Tower and the Nameless Tower 6,230m View from Urdukas

The Great Trango Tower and the Nameless Tower from Urdukas.

The Great Trango Tower and the Nameless Tower from Urdukas.

The Baltoro Glacier, Uli Biaho Tower 6,109m on the left, The Great Trango Tower 6,286m, The Nameless Tower 6,230m and Thunmo Cathedral 5,883m from Urdukas.

The Baltoro Glacier, Uli Biaho Tower 6,109m on the left, The Great Trango Tower 6,286m, The Nameless Tower 6,230m and Thunmo Cathedral 5,883m from Urdukas.

Our camp at Urdukas on Day 5. The name Urdukas means “split rock”.

Our camp at Urdukas on Day 5. The name Urdukas means “split rock”.

Day 6 - we hiked from Urdukas to Goro II camp. The weather deteriorated and we could tell that clouds and snow were coming. We walked by the Mustagh Tower but it was obscured by clouds so we could not see it.

Day 6 - we hiked from Urdukas to Goro II camp. The weather deteriorated and we could tell that clouds and snow were coming. We walked by the Mustagh Tower but it was obscured by clouds so we could not see it.

Along the trail from Urdukas to Goro II camp on Day 6.

Along the trail from Urdukas to Goro II camp on Day 6.

Looking back towards the Great Trango Tower from the trail on the Baltoro Glacier between Urdukas and Goro II camps.

Looking back towards the Great Trango Tower from the trail on the Baltoro Glacier between Urdukas and Goro II camps.

The Biarcheldi Mountain and The Masherbrum 7,821m (on the right) and the confluence of the Biarcheldi Glacier and the Baltoro Glacier.

The Biarcheldi Mountain and The Masherbrum 7,821m (on the right) and the confluence of the Biarcheldi Glacier and the Baltoro Glacier.

En route to Goro II camp. Gasherbrum IV 7,925m can be seen far away at the end of the glacier.

En route to Goro II camp. Gasherbrum IV 7,925m can be seen far away at the end of the glacier.

On the Baltoro looking towards Gasherbrum IV 7,925m from Goro II camp.

On the Baltoro looking towards Gasherbrum IV 7,925m from Goro II camp.

The Baltoro Glacier and Gasherbrum IV, 7,925m

The Baltoro Glacier and Gasherbrum IV, 7,925m

Masherbrum 7,821m (centre) and the Biarcheldi Glacier.

Masherbrum 7,821m (centre) and the Biarcheldi Glacier.

Broad Peak 8,047m from Concordia camp. We walked from Goro II camp to Concordia on Day 7. We took 2 rest days in Concordia. I did not really rest during the first day as we walked to the K2 Basecamp and back in one very long day covering the distance of 20km.

Broad Peak 8,047m from Concordia camp. We walked from Goro II camp to Concordia on Day 7. We took 2 rest days in Concordia. I did not really rest during the first day as we walked to the K2 Basecamp and back in one very long day covering the distance of 20km.

Masherbrum 7,821m

Masherbrum 7,821m

The confluence of the Biarcheldi Glacier with the Biarcheldi Peak and Masherbrum behind.

The confluence of the Biarcheldi Glacier with the Biarcheldi Peak and Masherbrum behind.

The Gasherbrum group with Gasherbrum IV on the left 7,925m. on the way from Goro II to Concordia.

The Gasherbrum group with Gasherbrum IV on the left 7,925m. on the way from Goro II to Concordia.

Gasherbrum IV is called the shining wall as it glows gold in the setting sun. This view is from Concordia camp at 4,650.

Gasherbrum IV is called the shining wall as it glows gold in the setting sun. This view is from Concordia camp at 4,650.

Our camp at Concordia at 4,650m. From here a fantastic panorama of mountains is visible: K2, Broad Peak and Gasherbrum IV. Also numerous smaller peaks and Mt. Cholgolisa. Concordia is where the Godwin-Austen Glacier meets the upper Baltoro Glacier and Vigne Glacier. The pointy peak above our camp is called Mitre Peak 6,025m.

Our camp at Concordia at 4,650m. From here a fantastic panorama of mountains is visible: K2, Broad Peak and Gasherbrum IV. Also numerous smaller peaks and Mt. Cholgolisa. Concordia is where the Godwin-Austen Glacier meets the upper Baltoro Glacier and Vigne Glacier. The pointy peak above our camp is called Mitre Peak 6,025m.

The Mitre Peak 6,025 and the Baltoro Glacier.

The Mitre Peak 6,025 and the Baltoro Glacier.

Our camp at Concordia at 4,650m looking south to where we came from.

Our camp at Concordia at 4,650m looking south to where we came from.

K2 and Broad Peak from the Vigne Glacier

K2 and Broad Peak from the Vigne Glacier

Gasherbrum IV from Concordia at sunset. The beautiful light gives it the name “The Shining Wall”.

Gasherbrum IV from Concordia at sunset. The beautiful light gives it the name “The Shining Wall”.

The Shining Wall aka Gasherbrum IV at sunset.

The Shining Wall aka Gasherbrum IV at sunset.

The Gasherbrum IV at sunset.

The Gasherbrum IV at sunset.

Our camp at Concordia. During our day trip to the K2 basecamp we had cloudy weather and rain. The view of K2 from the BC is very foreshortened. The mountain is just too massive and high. K2 is bert viewed from the distance (like Everest in Nepal).

Our camp at Concordia. During our day trip to the K2 basecamp we had cloudy weather and rain. The view of K2 from the BC is very foreshortened. The mountain is just too massive and high. K2 is bert viewed from the distance (like Everest in Nepal).

Broad Peak with lenticular clouds from the trail between Goro II and Concordia.

Broad Peak with lenticular clouds from the trail between Goro II and Concordia.

K2 and Broad Peak from the Upper Baltoro Glacier. During the first rest day on Day 8, we took a trip from Concordia to the K2 BC. The weather was overcast and gloomy with some rain. We walked by the Broad Peak BC meeting some climbers. The Broad Peak BC is at 5,000 on a barren moraine of the Godwin-Austen Glacier. We then walked to the K2 BC and the Gilkey Memorial. The weather made the experience gloomy and somber. The names of climbers who died in the mountains have been inscribed on steel dinner plates with some more ornate plaques. I recognized many names of famous Polish climbers that perished on K2 and Broad Peak.  The total trip from Concordia to K2 and back is 20km. The walking is fairly flat (500m ascent over 10km) on glacier rubble and ice. We were quite tired at the end of the day and arrived back at the camp at dusk. Thankfully we had another rest day scheduled for the following day, Day 9.

K2 and Broad Peak from the Upper Baltoro Glacier. During the first rest day on Day 8, we took a trip from Concordia to the K2 BC. The weather was overcast and gloomy with some rain. We walked by the Broad Peak BC meeting some climbers. The Broad Peak BC is at 5,000 on a barren moraine of the Godwin-Austen Glacier. We then walked to the K2 BC and the Gilkey Memorial. The weather made the experience gloomy and somber. The names of climbers who died in the mountains have been inscribed on steel dinner plates with some more ornate plaques. I recognized many names of famous Polish climbers that perished on K2 and Broad Peak.

The total trip from Concordia to K2 and back is 20km. The walking is fairly flat (500m ascent over 10km) on glacier rubble and ice. We were quite tired at the end of the day and arrived back at the camp at dusk. Thankfully we had another rest day scheduled for the following day, Day 9.

K2 from Concordia on Day 9 evening. The mountain is 10km away!

K2 from Concordia on Day 9 evening. The mountain is 10km away!

K2 from Concordia Day 9.

K2 from Concordia Day 9.

Broad Peak at sunset on Day 9.

Broad Peak at sunset on Day 9.

Broad Peak at sunset on Day 9.

Broad Peak at sunset on Day 9.

The satellite peaks of Gasherbrum IV.

The satellite peaks of Gasherbrum IV.

Looking up the Vigne Glacier on Day 10 en route to the Ghondogoro high camp (aka Ali Camp at 5,010m)..

Looking up the Vigne Glacier on Day 10 en route to the Ghondogoro high camp (aka Ali Camp at 5,010m)..

The Gasherbrum group from the Upper Baltoro Glacier on Day 10.

The Gasherbrum group from the Upper Baltoro Glacier on Day 10.

The Ghondogoro La 5,940m from the Ali Camp at 5,010m. The route follows the shadow in the centre of the photo. On Day 11, after sleepless and cold night at the Ali Camp, we started our ascent at 2 am. We crossed the glacier in roped teams looking out for hidden crevasses. We then started the 930m ascent arriving at the top of the pass at sunrise. We had beautiful weather and good visibility and low wind. We had to cross some funky sections with large seracs looming overhead. We also had to cross a few crevasses along the way up. Once on top, our porters smoked K2 cigarets and drank garlic tea that was supposed to be good for altitude. We took many photos and admired the early morning view. From the top, we could see K2 and the Gasherbrums rising from behind the nearby ridge. Four 8,000m mountains are visible from the pass. The view to the south was much better with Laila Peak rising majestically over the glacier below. This is one of the most spectacular passes in the Karakoram.  The descent from the pass was steep and rocky. There was a fixed rope put in place and we could use it to repell down. The rockfall danger was present on this section of the descent. Once off the 50 degrees section of the descent, we could relax a little. We arrived at the Ghondogoro High Camp at 4,800m in mid afternoon. We were quite tired from two days of walking the the sleepless night.

The Ghondogoro La 5,940m from the Ali Camp at 5,010m. The route follows the shadow in the centre of the photo. On Day 11, after sleepless and cold night at the Ali Camp, we started our ascent at 2 am. We crossed the glacier in roped teams looking out for hidden crevasses. We then started the 930m ascent arriving at the top of the pass at sunrise. We had beautiful weather and good visibility and low wind. We had to cross some funky sections with large seracs looming overhead. We also had to cross a few crevasses along the way up. Once on top, our porters smoked K2 cigarets and drank garlic tea that was supposed to be good for altitude. We took many photos and admired the early morning view. From the top, we could see K2 and the Gasherbrums rising from behind the nearby ridge. Four 8,000m mountains are visible from the pass. The view to the south was much better with Laila Peak rising majestically over the glacier below. This is one of the most spectacular passes in the Karakoram.

The descent from the pass was steep and rocky. There was a fixed rope put in place and we could use it to repell down. The rockfall danger was present on this section of the descent. Once off the 50 degrees section of the descent, we could relax a little. We arrived at the Ghondogoro High Camp at 4,800m in mid afternoon. We were quite tired from two days of walking the the sleepless night.

View from the Ghondogoro La on the descent. Spectacular icefalls and glaciers were all around us.

View from the Ghondogoro La on the descent. Spectacular icefalls and glaciers were all around us.

The view from the Ghondogoro La. The Laila Peak 6,200m is the pointy mountain half-way down the Ghondogoro Glacier. Our camp was on the green spot on the right side across from The Laila Peak.

The view from the Ghondogoro La. The Laila Peak 6,200m is the pointy mountain half-way down the Ghondogoro Glacier. Our camp was on the green spot on the right side across from The Laila Peak.

The Leila Peak from our camp on Day 12. We camped behind the moraine of the Ghondogoro Glacier at 4,800. The porters were very happy to complete the dangerous crossing and we had a sining party at dinner time.

The Leila Peak from our camp on Day 12. We camped behind the moraine of the Ghondogoro Glacier at 4,800. The porters were very happy to complete the dangerous crossing and we had a sining party at dinner time.

The Great Trango Tower from Urdukas.

The Great Trango Tower from Urdukas.

The Baltoro Glacier at Concordia.

The Baltoro Glacier at Concordia.

K2 and the Godwin-Austen Glacier from the Upper Baltoro Glacier en route to the Ali Camp. The south face of Broad Peak is on the right.

K2 and the Godwin-Austen Glacier from the Upper Baltoro Glacier en route to the Ali Camp. The south face of Broad Peak is on the right.

The bridge over Braldu River on Day 1 of our trek.

The bridge over Braldu River on Day 1 of our trek.

The rocky descent from the Ghondogoro La and the Ghondogoro Glacier from the South Ghondogoro High Camp at 4,800m. The pass is on the left hand side of the photo. This photo was taken on the morning of Day 13 when we walked from the Ghondogoro High Camp to Daltsampa camp at 4,300.

The rocky descent from the Ghondogoro La and the Ghondogoro Glacier from the South Ghondogoro High Camp at 4,800m. The pass is on the left hand side of the photo. This photo was taken on the morning of Day 13 when we walked from the Ghondogoro High Camp to Daltsampa camp at 4,300.

Day 13, walking down the Ghondogoro Glacier with the Masherbrum icefall ahead. From here, we took a 90 degree left turn down the Ghondogoro Glacier. We had a very long day. We had lunch along the way when Chris (one of the guys in our party) got struck with a heat stroke. He nearly passed out and needed some rest. Then, we got delayed by rising water from the Laila Peak. As we arrived at the creek after lunch we noticed the water rising. Within 30 minutes, the creek turned into a raging torrent that required ropes to cross. We could hear boulders rolling violently in the murky and turbulent water. I lost my water bottle while trying to throw the rope to the other side of the creek. This was very harrowing crossing, especially for the porters with heir heavy loads. Finally we made it across with help from our ropes to relief of all and had a good walk down to the camp at Daltsampa. From Daltsampa, we could see the Charkusa Glacier area with the spires circling the Charkusa Glacier.

Day 13, walking down the Ghondogoro Glacier with the Masherbrum icefall ahead. From here, we took a 90 degree left turn down the Ghondogoro Glacier. We had a very long day. We had lunch along the way when Chris (one of the guys in our party) got struck with a heat stroke. He nearly passed out and needed some rest. Then, we got delayed by rising water from the Laila Peak. As we arrived at the creek after lunch we noticed the water rising. Within 30 minutes, the creek turned into a raging torrent that required ropes to cross. We could hear boulders rolling violently in the murky and turbulent water. I lost my water bottle while trying to throw the rope to the other side of the creek. This was very harrowing crossing, especially for the porters with heir heavy loads. Finally we made it across with help from our ropes to relief of all and had a good walk down to the camp at Daltsampa. From Daltsampa, we could see the Charkusa Glacier area with the spires circling the Charkusa Glacier.

Masherbrum Icefall from the trail between the Ghondogoro High Camp and Daltsampa camp.

Masherbrum Icefall from the trail between the Ghondogoro High Camp and Daltsampa camp.

Descending towards Daltsampa camp. The dry cleft in the middle of the photo has been made by the meltwater from the Masherbrum Glacier.

Descending towards Daltsampa camp. The dry cleft in the middle of the photo has been made by the meltwater from the Masherbrum Glacier.

Looking towards Masherbrum from the trail between Ghondogoro High Camp and Daltsampa camp.

Looking towards Masherbrum from the trail between Ghondogoro High Camp and Daltsampa camp.

On Day 14 we hiked from Daltsampa camp at 4,300m to the village of Hushe at 3,050m. It was a dry and hot walk though green fields near Hushe. We had our last view of the Masherbrum behind. On this trek we walked total distance 115km and ascended 3,450m.

On Day 14 we hiked from Daltsampa camp at 4,300m to the village of Hushe at 3,050m. It was a dry and hot walk though green fields near Hushe. We had our last view of the Masherbrum behind. On this trek we walked total distance 115km and ascended 3,450m.

Machilu on the jeep ride from Hushe to Khaplu Village. Our guide Ibrahim lives in Machilu. We stopped at his house for tea on the way.

Machilu on the jeep ride from Hushe to Khaplu Village. Our guide Ibrahim lives in Machilu. We stopped at his house for tea on the way.

Karimabad and the fort. After we finished the K2 Trek, we drove to the Hunza Valley and to  Kashgar in China via the Kunjerab Pass  (see the link for photos from that leg of our trip). We wanted to see the famous Kashgar market. This was another great adventure that included being involved in contraband between China and Pakistan, meeting the Chief of Police of the North West Frontier Province and visiting locals in the village of Passu.

Karimabad and the fort. After we finished the K2 Trek, we drove to the Hunza Valley and to Kashgar in China via the Kunjerab Pass (see the link for photos from that leg of our trip). We wanted to see the famous Kashgar market. This was another great adventure that included being involved in contraband between China and Pakistan, meeting the Chief of Police of the North West Frontier Province and visiting locals in the village of Passu.