Post #96: Concordia to Irdupayu in a long 12 hour day 20mi down the glacier
It was a chilly start to the morning, but much warmer than mornings of the expedition, being at a lower altitude than basecamp already. I was up early to eat breakfast with my teammates Mark, Grace and Arnold.
I caught a glimpse of K2 walking from my tent to the dining tent and the aroma of pancakes turned my attention from the Savage Mountain to the Savage in me with my hunger. I knew it would be a long day on the glacier, but I was also excited that I would get to drop below 15,000’ for the first time since the 4 of July. Out the screen windows of the dining tent, some of the highest mountains in the world were present….some in fog and some in clear view.
I ate my breakfast slower than normal, knowing this would be my last morning to see all of the bigger peaks for quite some time. By the afternoon I would be 20 miles west down the glacier and in view of an entire new set of spectacular peaks near the Trango Tower group……….all stunning for sure.
When the meal was over I put my freshly filled water bottle in my pack, zipped up the contents, took my jacket off (as the sun was warm already), and bid K2 goodbye for the last time. The summit was soon concealed behind a nearby peak as I started to drop west on the Baltoro glacier. The day became hot….and sunny quite quickly. Once again I was in shorts and getting used to the ups and downs of hiking the glacial moraine.
With every side valley I passed en route to Goro II and then Irdukas, then Irdupayu along the way I felt like an early explorer. These names aren’t the names of villages at all, rather just primitive campsites along the way as the Baltoro has no permanent settlements along it’s routes to Gasherbrums or K2 once you leave Askole.
It would be so cool to come back and go up each one of those separate glacial valleys. Dozens upon dozens of peaks, all jagged, some snow covered and some melted off with some incredible rock to climb. Granite cracks, enormous peaks….and some have probably never been climbed. The trail continued on for what seemed like forever, but I didn’t mind.
Soon Masherbrum, nearly 8000m popped into view to my south.
A snowy massive chunk of steep rock and ice….something out of the Harry Potter series or some other far-fetched fairy tale. This North Face of Masherbrum I was told conquered a few year back by Steve House, the crazy, but fantastic American Climber who has cheated death many times in his career. I hope I get to live a long life as a mountaineer, but so much more than a mountaineer……..many have died here and I don’t ever plan on being one of them. Seeing these peaks in this place was real life and these Pakistan Mountains were so real you could reach out and touch them.
By 2pm I crossed some central glacial moraines that are at the Elevation of Colorado Mountains at about 14200’ and headed to the south side to a cropping and outpost on the side of the valley overlooking the glacier called Irdukas. This place was very green at least at the campsite (but not as you look toward the peaks) and is also one of my favorite view points of the Glacier and Peaks. I took a really awesome photo of some horses and Broad Peak in the background to the East when we trekked in here at the end of june….that one is an award winner for sure and will remain etched in my mind, I still have to download it from my Canon Camera.
The sheer enormity of the northern wall across the glacier from Irdukas is stunning, and the huge granite and metamorphic peaks make Yosemite look small by comparison. Peaks like Castle and Cathedral are properly named here….and the Trango Group dominates. Some of the Spires have never seen humans on them, while others have been climbed only once or twice EVER. After a water break, I had two more hours to go to get to our intermediate camp at 12,600’ for the evening.
I hustled down towards the camp along the rocky moraines as I went. My fatigued legs were looking forward to a cool dip in the creek at the Irdupayu camp and savoring yet another excellent camp site. 20 mile day was completed…..two more days of trekking long days to get out of the Baltoro to Askole and on to Skardu so I can go home via Islamabad eventually……and see all of my amazing family and friends: let’s continue this adventure tomorrow shall we?