Brief Report by Charles Gielen of his Karakoram Trekking July 2007
Just before the trip of some of us to Kilimanjaro I want to give a brief report on the fantastic trekking I did during the last few weeks in Northern Pakistan together with ten Dutch trekking friends. The trekking was perfectly organised by René de Bos, who was the first Dutchman to stand on the summit of Everest. René owns the company Snowleopard, specialising in mountain trekkings in Nepal, Tibet, Pakistan, Ladak and many other places. Our original plan was to do the Baltoro Glacier to Concordia and via K2 base camp to cross the pass called Gondogorola. However, before we reached Askole (after a few days in Fairy Meadows having enjoyed the beauty of the killer mountain Nanga Parbat) we understood that it would not be possible to cross Gondogorola because of a crevasse that opened so wide that it became insurmountable. We realised that the only thing we could do is to go Concordia and K2 base camp and back using the same route. The number of people of Askole's campsite made us realise that we would not be alone! We therefore took the decision to do a different trek and we did not regret this for one second. From Askole we went west to follow the impressive Biafo glacier (65 km long!) up to the Hisparla (5150 m.) and down via the Hispar glacier to Hispar Village that we reached after 12 days. We saw one of the most impressive glacial systems in the world (total length of the 2 glaciers is approximately 115 km) and we were, together with an initial number of 79 porters on our own. In 12 days we did not see any other human being. Leaving aside the few clouded days with even a few centimetres of snow, we could enjoy the enormous peaks of more than 7000 meters with the impressive hanging glaciers at several moments. This trekking is strenuous. Except for one or two days we have been on our feet 8 -10 hours per day (I lost 7 kilo!). The Hisparla does not pose great technical difficulties. Of course, we were on ropes but we did not need to use crampons. The major difficulty is caused by the many pieces of rocks on the moraines and on the glaciers, requiring a lot of concentration while walking. The size of the glacier systems, the height of the mountains and the loneliness is rewarding. The local staff, porters, excellent cook and guides were provided by Hunza Guides in Islamabad.
For further information email me on firstname.lastname@example.org and if you want to see some pictures go to www.charlesgielen.com, the pictures page, and use the password "valk".