Karakorum Grand Base Camps Trek Overview
Our Karakorum Grand Base Camps Trek entails Karakorum’s highest and most iconic peaks of K2, Broad Peak, Gasherrum I & II and Gondogoro la to Huseh valley (weather permiting). IT is unparalleled views can inspire even the most jaded traveler. You’ll wander up, past waterfalls and glaciers, and through charming hamlets in the shadow of some of the most awe-inspiring peaks in the world.
Karakorum Grand Base Camps Trek is one of the world’s best-known treks variation with addition of base camps of 8000m peaks up close and will reward those willing to break a sweat with a stunning combination of mountainscapes, jawed peaks, and villages. We run our own treks, which ensures the fair treatment of our porters and quality equipment.
Karakorum Grand Base Camps Trek is an exceptional and ambitious trekking adventure, which starts out with a spectacular flight (weather permitting) from Islamabad to Skardu in Baltistan. Then drive to the remote village of Askole and trek via the Baltoro Glacier, passing famous peaks such as the Trango and Cathedral groups, the Lobsang Spire and mighty Masherbrum, en route to Concordia.
This is one of the most spectacular locations on the planet and we have the opportunity to trek up the Godwin Austin Glacier to K2 Basecamp, before continuing on the Upper Baltoro Glacier towards Chogolisa and the ‘golden throne’ peak of Baltoro Kangri. After a sensational overnight at Ali Camp, in a truly wild location, we make the crossing of the Gondogoro La (5585m) which requires ice axe and crampons. After a few spellbinding minutes on top of Gondogoro La, we make a steep descent into the glaciated valley utilizing strategically-placed fixed ropes as aids to Khuspang.The next leg of our journey is three or four days of easy trekking down to Hushe village. On the way we pass shining alpine lakes, shepherds in their meadows and ancient villages. Masherbrum (7821 m.) shyly reveals her other side as we approach Hushe. Hushe is eastern Baltistan’s counterpart to Askole, and home to many of the best climbers and mountaineers in Pakistan.
You won’t be able to shake the feeling that you’re seeing nature at its purest and rawest in these regions of the planet.
- Trek to the trail of one of the top five trails of our planet.
- Explore an earthly paradise of throne rooms of mountains & cultures
- Enjoy mountain hospitality and scenic Skardu culture
- Catch a glimpse of K2, Broad Peak and the Gasherbrum I, II, III, IV from the Gondogoro L
- Trek to Camp, from where mountaineering climbs of the one of the worlds highest peaks begin.
- Locally sourced food
- Explore nature in purest form and haggle at local markets for precious and semi precious stones
Arrival in Islamabad
Welcome to Islamabad! You will be greeted by an English-speaking assistant at the airport after immigration and custom. The assistant will escort you to bus for your hotel. We will have ample time for sightseeing and shopping in colorful old bazaars of Rawalpindi and new markets of Islamabad. We may also drive to the modern Faisal Mosque in Islamabad.
fly to Skardu /drive to Chilas
We rise early to be at the airport in time for our flight to Skardu. If the weather is good, we’ll be treated to one of the finest views available in the world of aviation, as we thread our way up the largest congregation of mountains of Karakoram, Hindukush, Himalaya and Indus River gorges, third longest in Asia and one of the deepest in the world. To our east is K2 (2nd highest in the world and Nanga Parbat (killer mountain) and countless peaks and glaciers. It is sometime possible to catch a glimpse of K2 in the distant before our dramatic landing at Skardu. On arrival we are met by our local staff with jeeps and make the short transfer to the hotel. SKARDU is the administrative capital of Baltistan and gateway to the high peaks of Northern Pakistan. We have some time to explore the town and enjoy the hustle and bustle in peak season of tourists here. Sightseeing in Skardu and surrounding areas during the day. For those seeking a good overview of Skardu, or a place from which to photograph the sunset, Kharfocho Fort is an ideal spot. If the flight is unable to operate because of bad weather, we will resort to travel by road on Karakoram Highway (KKH) to Chilas. The drive is compensated by the beautiful scenery along the Karakoram highway and Indus gorges. The journey on the Karakoram Highway is most exciting and thrilling. It is a monument to the engineering feast and one of the most spectacular roads and the world’s highest metalled border crossing. It connects Pakistan and China stretching over a distance of 1300km between Islamabad and Kashgar, winding through three mountain ranges and following the ancient Silk route along the Indus Valley to the Chinese border at Khunjerab Pass. We pass through the historical town of Taxila, beautiful hill station of Abbottabad, quake affected lush green towns of Mansehra, Shinkiari and finally meet the great Indus on Thakot Bridge. From there onward the road snails along the bank of the Indus with contrasting landscape after every two kilometers. We pass through Besham, Dassu, Komila and Shatial to arrive at Chilas with many rock carvings and inscriptions along the way left by Chinese pilgrims and ancient travelers of 5th century A.D. Chilas was on the ancient caravan trail over the Babusar Pass into India. The view after crossing the Rai kot Bridge of Nanga Parbat is without any parallel. Standing at around 1,000 m. you see a mountain which rises to above 8,000 m! This is the largest land escarpment in the world. This is also where the three greatest mountain ranges meet; Himalaya, Hindukush and Karakoram.
Flight 45 Minutes
Drive 10-12 hrs
Activities Cultural exploration , Sightseeing, Hiking,Jeep Safari
skardu free day /drive to skardu
This day may be needed to complete the KKH road journey from Chilas to Skardu. Alternatively, leaving Skardu today will enable us to enjoy an extra day of trekking.
Drive 10-12 hrs.
Activities Cultural exploration , Sightseeing, Hiking,Jeep Safari
Jeep to ASKOLE
Today we rise early and view the beautiful sunrise against the backdrop of the Karakoram. After breakfast drive to Shigar, a history-soaked medieval town. There is also a heritage Palace cum Fort (Fong khar ). Completely renovated by the AKCSP a few years back, the Palace and its suburbs reflects a medieval look. Here we will pay a brief visit to the Garden House, Royal room, museum handicraft shop and The Khanqah Moalla, famous for its uniquely carved wooden windows and meditation cells. Shigar retains a mystical, medieval aura that may leave you feeling like you have stepped through the looking glass.Then an exciting jeep journey takes us through the fields of the Shigar valley before the road narrows to a mountain track leading to the trail head at Askole, the last inhabitancy on our way to the great glaciers. Highest in the region, the stone & timber abodes contain dark & narrow stairwells raven by gloomy, unlit alleys cluster within the embrace of the fertile terraces.
Distance 135 Km, Drive: 07-08 hrs. Altitude: 3050 M
Activities Jeep Safari, Cultural Exploration
Trek to JULA
Today we leave the last inhabited village Askole. Porters are assembled to carry our luggage for the next section of the journey. For the remaining portion of our journey we rely on our porters who carry our food and equipment and sustain our expedition. After scrambling over a ridge we come across what legend says an old polo field. Passing through a rock gap we cross the Biafo glacier. The Biafo Glacier is a huge river of ice 63 km long which descends from the central peaks of the Karakoram and flows east into the Braldu valley at a point about 10 km east of Askole. After two and a half hour trek a long and uphill walk over a steep ridge along the Dumordo river. descend at Jula, (wire rope bridge supported by a wooden basket) cross it and camp beside a torrent facing the Bakhordas peak.
Walk 06-07 hrs, Grade: Moderate, Altitude: 3150 M
Trek to PAIU
Resume trek along the Braldu River to a green oasis under the shadows of Paiu Peak, the last grove of trees before the trail moves onto the glacier, 6611 M. Paiu – is a Balti dialect word that means “SALT”. Since there are some rock salt deposits at the base of this peak, the locals believe that the snow on the summit of Paiu Peak is not snow but a huge deposit of salt which drips down to the base. From this camp we have the first views of the impressive Baltoro Glacier.
Walk 05-06 hrs, Grade: Moderate, Altitude: 3480 M
Trek to Trango Tower Base camp
Today we leave Baltoro glacier and turns left on Trango glacier and trek up to base camp below Uli Biaho and Trango Towers. Quite a place with huge granite rock towers reaching thousands of feet high, dropping down to the churning moraine of the Dunge and Trango glaciers. The route is mixed snow/ice climbing at a relatively moderate grade. You can see Trango Tower from both side i.e Dunge glacier and Trango glacier. You can watch Trango Tower’s Donge glacier face also from Urdukas camp site.
04-05 hrs, Grade: Moderate, Altitude: 4200 M
Trek to KHO BURSE
Today we resume trek with a gradual climb up Baltoro Glacier on the southern edge.
After about two hours the path divides at the snout of Baltoro glacier where the left branch goes to the base camp of Trango Tower and the Serpo Lgo pass. Continue to the right climbing up on to the glacier that stretches up the valley, 62 km long and 2 km wide.
Further 2-3 hours steady climb on a long diagonal to the other side. Follow the southern edge to Liliwa and onward to Khuburse, a lovely walk for about 90 minutes to the campsite with clear water.
Walk Walk: 05-08 hrs, Grade: Moderate, Altitude: 3760 m
trek to URDUKAS
Today morning we leave Kho-burse camp and walk mostly along the crest of lateral moraine towards Urdukas. This camp has superb views across the Baltoro Glacier to the Trango peaks, having view of Paiu Peak, Chorichi, Uli Biaho, Trango Tower and so on and is our last ‘green grass’ campsite.
Walk 05-06 hrs, Grade: Moderate, Altitude: 4130 M
URDUKAS - REST DAY
This is the last campsite the main glacier, with very impressive views over the Baltoro and to the dramatic rock spires on the opposite on grassy slopes off side of the glacier. (Courtesy by Udom Peter) So based on our past experience rest day at Urdukus comes with the following advantages. Helps the acclimatization process and has proved to more effective than a rest day at Paiu. Can take a pleasant walk behind the campsite through grassy slopes full of alpine flowers. Climbing high & sleeping low is the best way to help the acclimatization process. Trek leader will lead a training session explaining in detail the techniques for crossing the Gondogoro La.
trek to GORO II
A long walk on the icy Baltoro Glacier, Traveling on the glacier all the time now, it is an all day walk over the boulder-strewn glacier to the campsite at Goro. Traverse the Yerma-nandu Glacier which flows down from Masherbrum & joins the Baltoro. Masherbrum is visible on the right side of the glacier, and Mustagh Tower on the left. Gasherbrum IV and Broad Peak can be seen directly ahead, as they catch the evening sunlight.
Walk 06-07 hrs, Grade : Strenuous Altitude: 4250 m
trek to CONCORDIA
Trekking to the campsite at Concordia, we pass through some of the most spectacular mountain scenery in the world; a huge junction of Baltoro, Abruzzi & Godwin Austin Glaciers at 4000 meters. Within a short radius of 15 Kilometers, stand 41 peaks over 6500 meters including 04 peaks above 8000 M. The 360 view offers a panorama of peaks nowhere to be found on this planet.
Walk 04-05 hrs, Grade: Strenuous, Altitude: 4600 m
concordia free day
There is plenty of time to admire the scenery and find the best vantage points from which to take photographs of the surrounding peaks. Concordia, the confluence of five glaciers, offers unprecedented views of the Karakoram peaks. Within a radius of nine miles rise 41 peaks above 21,000 feet, almost half of them still unnamed and unclimbed.
Trek to Broad Peak & K2 Base camp
Hike over snow , rock and ice. As we start hiking from Concordia, we cross the crevasses of the Baltoro Glacier, then walk on the Medial moraine of the Godwin-Austin Glacier to Broad Peak base camp. When we look back towards Concordia, we can see the zebra -striped Glaciers sweeping around the corner and disappearing into the Baltoro Glacier.
Walk: 05-06 hrs, Strenuous, Altitude: 5700 M
Trek to Concordia
Today you are fee to explore K2 base camp and having a little climbing towards Abruzzi ridge and return back to K-2 base camp.Start late noon trek and return back to Concordia. Overnight at Concordia.
05-06 hrs, Grade: Strenuous, Altitude: 5000 M
trek to Shagharing
From Concordia it is another two hour hike to our campsite on the glacier moraine.Today we walk on upper Baltoro glacier and to reach Shaghring. From here you can see Baltoro Kangri, Chogolisa and Snow dome peaks and lot of other peaks.
04-05 hrs, Grade: moderate, Altitude: 5000 M
trek to Gasherbrum I & II base camp
Today we arrive at G-II base camp and establish our camp. We will have the opportunity to explore our beautiful and pristine alpine surroundings and relax with the climbing team as they prepare to move up the mountain. We then wish the climbers good luck and farewell and set out for our return trek back to civilization.
03-04 hrs, Grade: moderate, Altitude: 5100
trek to ALI CAMP
After an early breakfast leave the GashaBrum Base camp and we will cross several side glacier to reach our right path.It is also possible to walk on the Vigne glacier which is fairly easy then walking on the stony path on the right side of the glacier but it depends on the snow condition. Looking back gives an unusual view of the great Karakoram peaks: K2, Broad Peak and the Gasherbrums. The trail continues to ‘Ali Camp’ situated on a rocky site overlooking the long ridge running from Masherbrum to Chogolisa . We turn in early, as we have a midnight wake-up call for the departure over the Gondogoro La.
06-07 hrs, Grade: moderate, Altitude: 4800 M
CROSS GONDOGORO PASS - KHUSPANG
Today our trek starts as early as 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning to cross the Gondogoro la to reach Khuspang. The basic theme behind the early walk to reach the top of the Gondogoro Pass 5685 meters is that in the morning snow will be hard and we will not get tired quickly as the sun is not strong, but as sun gets strong snow get soft, snow going to be melt and bring water and stones, also the chance of ice falls or avalanches. Today is one of the toughest and most challenging days of the trek, and although it is a long and tiring day, you are now well- acclimatized to the altitude. Our guides will fix ropes to safeguard this ascend and descend for both the porters and clients. Depending upon the snow and trail condition it may be necessary to rope up for the crossing of the glacier before getting to the base camp of pass. There are several sections with fixed ropes in place which can be used as a handrail. It is also best practice to clip a karabiner and sling onto the rope for safety. At the top to Gondogoro la you will find the most spectacular view on earth. From here you can see the K2, Broad Peak, G1, G2, Muztagh Tower on one side and towards Hushe side you will find Laila peak, Ninchi peak and a lot more. The Hushe side of the pass can be a tricky descent although there are fixed ropes in place at the top. The slope starts at a sustained 50 degrees on snow and finishes on loose scree towards the bottom.
Important Note: Gondogoro La crossing is dependent on favorable weather and conditions on the trail to the pass. If it is not possible to safely ascend the pass the group will retrace steps back down the Baltoro glacier to Askole. If the prospects of safely crossing the pass are not good, Vertical Explorers guide will be obliged to make the decision to abort the crossing – and you must be prepared to accept it.
Based on our over a decade experience itinerary maximizes our chances of crossing the pass because: • everyone should be well acclimatized due to the gradual ascent on the trek and also from the careful monitoring of everyone’s acclimatization by using the pulse oximeter and a day training at Urdukus.
Walk 07-08 hrs, Grade: Strenuous, Altitude: 5600 m
KHUSPANG REST DAY
If bad weather hampers the crossing of pass on day13, this will give us another chance to cross the pass. Rest day or area excursion.
Altitude 4600 m
trek to SAICHO
After an easy walk we will come onto the glacier. You pick your way across moving boulders and ice, finally crossing the glacier up to the camping site to reach Dalsangpa, meaning ‘field of flowers’, lives up to its name. It is a beautiful campsite at about 4,150 meters, set between two lakes, with Masherbrum Mountain and the white glacier cascading down from Masherbrum Pass reflected in the still water. Resume trek along the path, Keep yourself on the left side of the lateral moraine, crossing several side streams. The next hour is an unpleasant scramble along the stony, sliding glacier edge, with huge boulders poised above, ready to fall. Continue your trek along the path goes down hill to the summer settlement called Saicho, a large shepherds settlement with its own mosque, now here you can find a hotel and a shop. This is the traditional camp among the forest of juniper, cedar and willow trees with giant bushes of wild roses and a good water supply.
Walk 07-08 hrs, Grade: Strenuous, Altitude: 3350 m
trek to HUSHE
Early morning walk towards Hushe river on an easy path. Upon arrival camp near the fields in Hushe, with the huge peak of Masherbrum dominating the view to the north. At an altitude of over 3000 metres, Hushe is the highest village in the area and is the first habitation you will see when reach the Hushe Valley.
Walk 04 -05 hrs, Grade: Moderate, Altitude: 3100m
jeep to SKARDU
A jeep journey along narrow mountain roads passing small farming settlements leads first to Khapulo and then to Skardu (6-7hrs). Upon arrival transfer to hotel.
Drive 07-08 hrs.
fly to Islamabad /Drive to CHILAS
Early in the morning fly to Islamabad,. With clear skies we will be able to board a plane and be back at our hotel in Islamabad in 45 minutes. If the weather is not so favorable and the flight doesn’t come, then we will have to drive the Karakoram Highway to Rawalpindi through the narrow gorge of the Indus River . The outcome is in the lap of the God, so we will be praying that they’re on our side! If we are able to fly down, for those who want to escape the heat of the city a very pleasant excursion is up to the former British hill station at Murree. The faded remnants of the town’s colonial past can be seen in its gable- roofed buildings and small Anglican churchyard. This excursion is not included in the trip price but if any member of the group wish to make this journey, a private vehicle and driver can be hired locally for a very modest sum. Back in Rawalpindi we enjoy a final evening meal usually taken at one of traditional food streets either in Islamabad or in Rawalpindi.
Flight: I hr, Drive: 10 hrs
Drive to Islamabad/Islamabad Sightseeing
Upon arrival transfer to your hotel in Rawalpindi. Evening sightseeing. If unable to fly on day 18 th , this day will be use to travel from Chilas to Islamabad by road. Evening transfer to airport for onward flight.
Drive: 12 hrs
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From early childhood a place somewhere beyond the horizon was where I wanted to be and in the passing years since, I have made it my goal to satisfy that yearning! growing up in Baltistan gave me a great love for that part of the world, from K2 to Nanga Parbat to makin the first venture on Gondogoro la and much in between.
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