trekking the Baltoro Getting There The People The Panorama The Mountains Getting Back September 11, 2001

From Concordia, we walked for a day up the Vigne glacier, another one of the side glaciers. From Ali camp on the Vigne near Chogolisa, the plan was to climb over the 19,400 foot Gondogoro La (pass) and return to Skardu via the shorter, less traveled Hushe valley. This would also have meant fewer days of glacier walking and a different jeep road. We all had our crampons, ice axes and climbing harnesses out and ready to go. Unfortunately, a storm blew in a few hours before our scheduled 2am departure for the pass.

This popped the avalanche danger way up, so the steep and technical pass was out of the question. We spent a night listening to very long rock falls and avalanches all around - a neat consolation prize! We were now more than half the total trek distance out with less than half of the days remaining, so all of our days were double length on the way back out. The first two days were interesting walking double time in fresh snow back down to Urdukas camp. Lots of slipping and sliding on a trail that wasn't very visible, but great humor all around and more sense of adventure.

We actually walked out of the snow on the first long day from Ali camp through Concordia to Goro II, but it snowed about 14 heavy inches overnight. We shook the snow off our poor desert tent several times during the night - this activity makes you feel like you are really having fun now! It only took about 30 minutes for snow to cover the tent each time. This deadened the sound of the storm, so we slept really well until the tent started to get small again :-).

This is the flat bare Vigne glacier, a nice change from the hilly, rock covered Baltoro Glacier. This one is completely snow free, all the small streams and large crevasses are exposed. Gondogoro La pass is around the corner and up the valley to the right.

The ridge ahead is part of Chogolisa, a long narrow peak separating the Baltoro and Vigne glaciers.

The clouds piling up as we walked up the Vigne was a foreshadow of what was in store for later in the day!

Ali CampWe set up the tents at Ali Camp near the foot of Gondogoro La in a light snow. About 45 minutes later it looked like this, and the real adventure started.

As on our way up the Baltoro glacier, we crossed many streams. They had beautiful meanders and natural bridges just like rivers in Utah's slickrock regions, except that these rivers were on top of ice.

Here Pat is filling his water bottles and treating the water.

Finally, a bridge crossing that made Brenda grin! We timed it just right to hit this bridge during our only hour of high wind and horizontal rain. Even without the wind, this bridge had a serious tilt. Slippery and swaying, it was cool. As you can see, most of the holes have even been repaired.

This wash out had been "repaired" while we were trekking, so we could drive through it on the way back to Skardu. Mark stood on the footbridge we had used earlier to snap this photo.

During the crossing, the jeep got stuck here and floated about five feet down the river toward the falls just out of the frame. Fortunately the wheels caught and the ever calm driver powered on through. You can see the trek members holding on like rats in a cage. Brenda says this was the single most exciting moment in the whole month.

Pakistani LorryBack on the Karakoram highway, the return of color was almost a shock to the senses. This kind of large truck is the mainstay of the Pakistani trucking industry.

Called a lorry, they are used to haul everything from lumber to vegetables to people. Loads are often piled to incredible heights. Each truck is an individual work of art with amazingly intricate designs and decorations. The driver and his family take great pride in their vehicle, which may be the sole source of income for several generations of people.

Note the fringe of chimes and bells hanging from the front (and back) bumper. The lorrys tinkle in a most pleasing manner as they move along the road.

One of the colorful little tea houses along the KKH.

Nanga Parbat, another of the 8,000m peaks and 9th tallest in the world.

Nanga Parbat means "Naked" but it is more often called the "Killer Mountain" as it is the most treacherous of the 8,000m's. We were very lucky to get this excellent view of it from along the KKH.

Getting There | The People | The Panorama | The Mountains | Getting Back | September 11, 2001