In a far away world, I began the very long but incredible trek out from basecamp to Askole. Itdidn’t take long for me to savor the unbelievable place I was in all day longas I began to drop Elevation Slowly from Basecamp at 16,500’ down towards Concordia at 15,500’. I travelled on the upper reaches of the Duke of Abruzzi Glacier and was surrounded by massive 7,000 and 8,000m peaks on all sides.
The weather was nothing but sunny blue skies and my path was easily seen on the rock moraine as I headed North Towards Concordia. By 9am I was already hiking in shorts and a thin long sleeve shirt an anxious to get lower towards the summer heat that was calling my name. In an easy 6 hour day I walked 18 Km., taking plenty of photos and lots of breaks. Feeling very acclimated from my recentclimbing on G2, dropping to around 15,000’ was no problem…..I wanted thicker air. There were some spectacular glacial rivers that were swollen with a greenish clear tint of refreshing meltwater. The main river was getting quite large by only 10am. The streams are beautiful butdangerous as you should not get too close to them or try crossing them is theyare wider than 5 feet. Seeing the stream reminded me of the report we got of the German Girl that died while trying tocross a stream near Broad Peak earlier in the season. She was swept away and then couldn’t catch herself in the frigid water and icy river bottom.
Near Concordia the massive Mountain Called K2 Dominated theNorthern Skyline. Broad Peak, at 8047mis also a giant mass of Snow and Ice just to the North East of Concordia, andone of the famed 8000ers. Broad pea kwould be a great peak to try and Climb someday when I return. This entire upper Baltoro region is truly special. It is the Highest and largest Alpine Glacial Ice Mass in the World. But this time of year much of the ice is covered by glacial moraine rocks and by mid-morning there are small melting steams everywhere as the glacier comes alive with running water, melting beneath your feet as your trek. Stoppin gto fill your bottle with clear cold water to drink is always tempting. Nearl yevery hour I would stop for a break and do so…..drinking the cold water gave mea brain freeze, but it was so worth it! From Concordia the Goodwin Austen Glacier runs North….Duke of Abruzzi Glacier South,and dozens of other glaciers flow over and up the sides of mountains from those glaciers. From higher up on the peaks looking down the glacial moraines make these look like race-track lanes as they snake towards Concordia and then due west on the convergence of the Baltoro that flows west and out towards Askole. It is a truly remarkable sight but also a treat to hike on this hugemass of ice.
By afternoon it was quite warm and I arrived in Concordia. Just before the camping settlement, I crossed the center of the glacier where the Goodwin Austen andDuke of Abruzzi Glaciers converge. A very loud river of meltwater was beneath my feet under layers of ice as I rolled across and to the Camp at the Gateway K2. We had a cook tent already set up, as this destination is actually fairly popular with trekkers but also a great place for expeditions to stop for lunch or dinner. In a low tourism year in Pakistan due to the terrorist attacks on Nanga, there actually was only two other dining tents and camps set up here at Concordia. It was late in the season and on the way down from Gasherbrum BC today we didn’t see any other trekkers.
The solitude was very welcome actually…and very much different than trekking in aplace like Nepal for example. I got a tent set up and enjoyed hot Tang and some dinner along with the views as the sunset. It was a great first day trekking out and I was looking forward to continuing towards Askole and eventually Skardu in the coming week. I’ll show memorable photos and some of my favorites of my journey out all week long (once the internet photo server improves)….enjoy! Jon