Post subject: Hispar-Biafo, Karakoram range, Pakistan
Posted: Sun Aug 18, 2013 6:22 am
Joined: Thu Jun 28, 2012 3:22 pm Posts: 6
Following my TR in the Karakoram range last year (here), here is a new one from last spring and in the same area.
This year our objective was to reach Askole (Baltistan) from Hispar (Hunza) using the famous path Hispar glacier / Hispar Pass / Snow Lake / Biafo Glacier. We also had side goals : explore the Lupke Lawo glacier (the remote part of Snow Lake) and make the ascent of the "classic" Workman Peak (5750m) and a pre-summit on the Est face of Tahu Rutum ( approx. 6300m and probably never done before). Unfortunatly, we had again a lot of bad weather and were not able to do everything. This expedition was again organized and led by Pierre Neyret (french moutain guide, specialist of Pakistan) and Jahaangir Sha (Pakistanese guide from the Hunza valley).
Islamabad - Hispar village : After a direct flight from Paris to Islamabad, we had to take the road to reach the Hunza valley as the flights were cancelled because of poor weather conditions. It took us 2 long days to reach Karimabad. Because of the upcoming elections, the police was everywere and we were escorted during one day and a half, from Islamabad until we got out of Kohistan (as Kohistan is a sensitive zone in terms of security). We stayed a bit in Karimabad, enjoying this great little city in the heart of the Hunza valley, surrounded by great moutains (Rakapochi, Diran, Spantik, Ultar, all above 7000m).
Hispar - Low part : From Karimabad we reached the remote village of Hispar from where we started our 20 days long walk. The first two days and a half were with porters, until we reached the snow on the Hispar glacier. After that we were on our own with our skis (a splitboard for me) and our sledes. The weather conditions were not great at all, we had a lot of snow and the visibility was often really poor. At those altitudes, the Hispar glacier is a mess and our first days on the skis were quite tough.
Hispar - High part : Weather improved and we had a few very nice days to reach the Hispar pass (5150m). The last camp before the pass was incredible, it was situated in the steep part of the glacier, giving us a great sight above the low part of it. The arrival at the Hispar pass is incredible as you can see the summit of the mighty Ogre (aka Baintha Brakk, 7285m) emerging above the pass.
Hispar pass : From the pass, the view on Snow Lake and the Ogre is really great. We spent 3 days there. The first day, we made the ascent of a dome next to the Workman peak (5745m). I saw some reports of people claiming having done the Workman peak, but it seems that everyone made the same pre-summit (the Workman peak itself cannot be done with skis). From the top, we had geat views on the Lupke Lawo / Sim Gang glaciers (Snow Lake), the Biafo glacier and the Hispar glacier. We also saw the Tahu Rutum dome we wanted to do, it looked quite tough. The ascent went well, and the weather was great but became cloudier in the afternoon. The run to go down was incredible with great snow conditions (unfortunatly I mixed up thing with my GoPro and took pictures instead of triggering the videos...). The next two days were spent in the tents, looking at the heavy snow falls. We eventually went down the Hispar pass in bad weather the next day.
Snow Lake : From the bottom of the Hispar pass, we went north to go deep in the Lupke Lawo glacier. Unfortunatly the weather stayed really poor and we didn't see much of the area. We already knew we wouldn't have time to try to make the Tahu Rutum dome and went back south to reach the area were Lupke Lawo and Sim Gang glaciers merge to form the Biafo glacier. Our camp was just in front of the Solu towers. We stayed there one full day, waiting for the weather to improve....and it finally improved giving us some great views of this incredible place.
Biafo : We used 3 days to go down the Biafo and meet the Askole porters at the end of the snow and then 1 day to reach by foot Askole. Weather was good the first 2 days and bad the last 2 ones.
Askole-Islamabad : After 3 weeks in the mountains it was great to come back to civilization. From Askole we reached Skardu where we were able to catch a flight to Islamabad (55 min in the air instead of 48 hours on the road...). We visited a bit Islamabad before going back to Paris.
This expedition was my third in the Karakoram range and even if we had a lot of bad weather it was still a great adventure in those great glaciers and mountains. Unfortunatly it will probably be my last one as a few weeks after this, alpinists were killed by talibans at the Diamir base camp of Nanga Parbat (in Diamir/Kohistan district). This was the first time moutain tourists were attacked in the Gilgit Baltistan province and it will probably change a lot of things...starting by me not going there anymore.