Pakistan – Expedition Expedition to one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the world.
Going to Pakistan for mountaineering was on the board for long among my friends and me. Because of the insecure political situation there we were lacking motivation organizing a trip. Hary, a very experienced Pakistan traveller had to join our team to make us book flights and get detailed organization under way.
The night of 13th to 14th July I was still driving home from Corse. Back home I quickly had to repack and on July 16th our plane landed, after a quick stopover in Doha, in Islamabad – Pakistan. Karim, a Pakistani who did the local logistic for us welcomed us. We used the following day to check our equipment, buy the one or the other thing and said good-bye to the capital with a good dinner.
A bus took us out of the urban areas and further to the “Babusar Pass”. To the left and the right of the road the devastation caused by floods was still visible. After riding on the bus for one and a half day the group split as planned. Alex, Klaus and I went together with Nazeer, a Pakistani friend, to the “Spantik mountain range”. The rest of the group wanted to climb a mountain near Karimabad.
We travelled on adventurous roads to Skardu. There ague, fever and diarrhoea forced me to stay longer than planed. To get to Arandu fords had to be crossed and even more scary roads had to be mastered. It took us more than eight hours to cover these 80km. Due to my still very sensitive stomach this was a very unpleasant trip.
In Arandu(2770m altitude) our ten porters arranged their loads and after the first night in our tents we started our three day hike to our base camp. Alex was suffering from the height and I additionally had to deal with the aftermath of my illness. I was rather crawling then walking to our first camp. The next two days consisted of walking, walking and again walking. The last part of the ascent was on a huge glacier. Alex and I were well behind the rest of the group and finding our way over the glacier full of crevasses was all but easy.
On the third day after nine hours of walk we reached our base camp (4100m altitude). Klaus had chosen a small but flat area on the glacier rim. This spot was supposed to be our new home for the weeks to come. It took some time to collect enough rocks to prepare a proper camping site and to pitch tents but then we were finally able to crawl into our sleeping bags. Extending and improving our campsite was on the schedule for the next few days. We used the few sunny moments to wash ourselves in ice-cold glacier water.
The moment we felt a bit acclimatized we started searching for a possibility to cross the glacier. This was not at all easy but after one day of crisscrossing between house deep crevasses we found a more or less safe path. Over the next days we were carrying equipment to the ABC. Then one day at 1 a.m. we started the ascent of our first mountain. The goal was an unclimbed 5800m high peak. The schrund and the ice face looked even more terrifying in our headlamp beams then during the day. So I decided to chancel this attempt and return to the ABC. Back at camp I was still able to see the bright spots and hear the voices of my friends on the ice face. On going rockfall due to too high temperatures persuaded Alex and Klaus to turn around as well. Klaus lost an ice axe while belaying and had to descent the last part with the remaining one.
The collywobbles didn’t disappear and I was not keen on waiting for the next attempt only to recognise that the second unclimbed peak is too hard for me or unclimbable for any other reason. So I decided to call it a day and started packing for my descent. Together with Nazeer I carried two and a half Porterloads out of the valley in two days. Nazeer offered to organize some trekking for me but this was definitely not an option for me so I decided to head home earlier. After a 15 hour jeeprallye I arrived one hour before the departure of my plane. Just before the airport I had to bribe a police officer to pass the check post. The car serial number was a bit rosty. I still can’t decide what was more dangerous: mountaineering or rallying back to Islamabad in that Jeep.
Alex and Klaus were able to summit our first peak at the second attempt and called him “Nazeer Peak” but had to retreat at the second mountain due to bad weather. Congratulation!