Snowland
Baltoro Concordia and K2 base camp trek

K2

Climbing Routes

The Abruzzi Spur-South East Ridge
North East Ridge , South West Pillar (The "Magic Line")
South Face (The "Polish Route"), South-South-East Spur
Expedition Summary

Max Altitude: 8611m/28251ft

Range: Karakoram

Ideal Duration: 60 Days

Climbing: 38 days

Trip Highlights

  • The Second Highest Mountain in the World.
  • Favorite for climbers to training themselves for Mount Everest.
  • Technically Difficult expedition – ideal for experienced Climbers
  • Karakoram Highway – the “eighth wonder of the world”.

Expedition Overview

The first westerner who saw the peak was probably Lieutenant T.G. Montgomerie. He was surveying the mountains in the area and in 1856 he spotted some extraordinary peaks, which he gave temporary names. K for Karakoram + a number for the peak. K1, K2, K3 etc. Montgomerie later found out K1 had a local name; Masherbrum. K2, still goes under that name, even if some have proposed to re-name it Qogori, a name used by some local people. K3, the third peak to be measured by Montgomerie didn’t have a local name. 

The Climb-K2 Peak (8611m)

The Standard Route

 

The most common climbing route that climbers take to ascend K2 is the Abruzzi Spur or the Southeast Ridge. The ridge and route looms menacingly above Base Camp on the Godwin-Austen Glacier on the south side of the mountain. The Abruzzi Spur route climbs steep snow and ice slopes broken by rock ribs and a couple cliff bands that are surmounted with technical climbing.

K2′s Most Popular Route

About three-quarters of all the climbers who ascend K2 do the Abruzzi Spur. Likewise, a majority of deaths occur along its well-traveled ridge. The route is named for Italian climber Prince Luigi Amedeo, the Duke of Abruzzi, who led an expedition to K2 in 1909 and made the first attempt on the ridge.

The Abruzzi Spur is Long

The route, beginning at the base of the ridge at 17,390 feet (5,300 meters) ascends 10,862 feet (3,311 meters) to K2′s summit at 28,253 feet (8,612 meters). The sheer length of the route, coupled with the severe weather conditions and objective dangers, make the Abruzzi Spur one of the most difficult and dangerous common routes on the world’s 8,000-meter peaks.

Major Topographic Features

Major topographical features on K2′s Abruzzi Spur route are The House Chimney, The Black Pyramid, The Shoulder, and The Bottleneck. Each offers its own set of technical difficulties and dangers. The Bottleneck, located below a 300-foot-high hanging ice cliff, is particularly dangerous since parts can break off at any time, either killing or stranding climbers above it as happened in the 2008 tragedy.

Base Camp and Advanced Base Camp

Climbers set up Base Camp on the Godwin-Austen Glacier below the great south wall of K2. Later, Advanced Base Camp is usually moved to the base of the Abruzzi Spur itself a mile farther up the glacier. The route is divided by camps, which are located at various points on the mountain

The House Chimney and Camp 2

From Camp 1, continue up mixed terrain on snow and rock for 1,640 feet (500 meters) to Camp 2 at 21,980 feet (6,700 meters). The camp is usually set against a cliff on a shoulder. It can often be windy and cold here but it’s safe from avalanches. On this section is the famous House Chimney, a 100-foot rock wall split by a chimney and crack system that is rated 5.6 if free-climbed. Today the chimney is fixed with a spider web of old ropes, making it fairly easy to climb. The House Chimney is named for American climber Bill House, who first climbed it in 1938.

The Black Pyramid

The imposing Black Pyramid, a dark pyramid-shaped rock buttress, looms above Camp 2. This 1,200-foot-long section of the Abruzzi Spur offers the most technically demanding climbing on the entire route, with mixed rock and ice climbing on almost vertical cliffs that are usually covered with unstable snow slabs. The technical rock climbing is not as hard as The House Chimney but its steep and sustained nature makes it more serious and dangerous. Climbers usually fix ropes up the Black Pyramid to facilitate climbing it and rappelling down.

Camp 3

After climbing 1,650 feet (500 meters) from Camp 2, climbers usually situate Camp 3 at 24,100 feet (7,350 meters) above the Black Pyramid’s rock wall and below steep unstable snow slopes. The narrow valley between K2 and Broad Peak often acts as a wind funnel, channeling high winds through the gap and making the snow slopes from here to The Shoulder above avalanche prone. Climbers usually stash extra gear, including tents, sleeping bags, stoves, and food, on the Black Pyramid because they are sometimes forced to descend for supplies if Camp 3 is swept away by an avalanche.

Camp 4 and The Shoulder

From Camp 3, climbers quickly ascend steep snow slopes that range from 25 to 40 degrees for 1,150 feet (342 meters) to the beginning of The Shoulder at 25,225 feet (7,689 meters). This section is done without fixed ropes. The Shoulder is a broad, low-angle hump on the ridge that is covered by a thick layer of ice and snow. There is no exact place to erect Camp 4, the last established camp before the final summit push. Usually placement is dictated by weather conditions. Many climbers place Camp 4 as high as possible, lessening the elevation gain on summit day. The camp is between 24,600 feet (7,500 meters) and 26,250 feet (8,000 meters).

Final Climbing Dangers

The summit, 12 to 24 hours away depending on weather and physical condition, is roughly 2,100 vertical feet (650 meters) above Camp 4 perched on The Shoulder. Most climbers leave Camp 4 between 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. Now the prospective K2 climber faces his greatest and most dangerous alpine challenges. The climbing route up the Abruzzi Spur from here to the summit is fraught with perilous dangers that can kill him in an instant. These dangers include the extreme oxygen-depleted altitude, fickle and frigid weather including strong winds and bone-chilling temperatures, hard-packed snow and ice, and the danger of falling ice from a looming serac.

The Bottleneck

Next the K2 climber heads up steepening snow slopes to the infamous Bottleneck, a narrow 300-foot couloir of ice and snow as steep as 80 degrees at 26,900 feet (8,200 meters). Above overhangs the 300-foot-high (100 meter) ice cliffs of a hanging glacier clinging to the ridge just below the summit. The Bottleneck has been the scene of many tragic deaths, including several in 2008 when the serac broke loose, raining huge chunks of ice on climbers and sweeping away fixed ropes, marooning climbers above the couloir. Climb challenging and steep ice up The Bottleneck with your crampon front points to a tricky and delicate traverse left on steep 55-degree snow and ice below the serac. A thin fixed rope is often left on the traverse and in The Bottleneck to allow climbers to safely ascend this section and to quickly descend out of danger.

To the Summit

After the long ice traverse below the serac, the route ascends 300 feet up steep wind-packed snow to the final summit ridge. This ice-enameled helmet is not a place to linger. Several climbers, including the great British alpinist Alison Hargreaves and five companions in 1995, were swept off this snow helmet by gale-force winds to icy oblivion. Now all that remains is a sharp snowy ridge that climbs 75 feet to the airy 28,253-foot (8,612-meter) summit of K2-the second highest point on the earth’s surface.

The Dangerous Descent

You’ve made it. Take a few photographs and smile for the camera on the summit but don’t linger. Daylight is burning and there is lots of difficult, scary, and dangerous climbing to do between the summit and Camp 4. Many accidents occur on the descent. The most startling statistic is that one in every seven climbers who reaches K2′s summit dies on the descent. If you don’t use supplemental oxygen, it’s one in five. Just remember-the summit is optional but returning to Base Camp safe and sound is mandatory.

Holiday Itinerary

Day

1

ARRIVE RAWALPINDI/ISLAMABAD
On arrival transfer the group to hotel/ Guest House, in Rawalpindi Islamabad (the airport is situated mid-way between Islamabad and Rawalpindi). You will meet your guide in the afternoon at the hotel for a trip briefing and gear check.
Day

2

BRIEFING AT MINISTRY OF TOURISM
Day

3

DRIVE TO CHILAS
Drive 10-12hrs by air conditioned coach to Chilas (480km) on the Karakoram highway. Overnight at Panorama hotel or Chilas Inn.
Day

4

CHILAS TO SKARDU (2,340M) APPROX 7-8 hrs
Overnight Mashabrum Hotel. Preparations for our Expedition and depending on our time of arrival into Skardu, there may be time to visit the town and possibly an excursion to Kachura Lake situated at the edge of the valley. Skardu is the regional capital of Baltistan, lying at the edge of a broad floodplain that is the confluence of the Shyok, Indus and Basha Rivers.
Day

5

IN SKARDU
Final shopping day at Skardu. Overnight at Hotel Mashabrum.
Day

6

DRIVE TO ASKOLE (3000M) APPROX 8 hrs
We will travel by jeep with our crew and supplies along the Shigar and Braldu valleys to Askole. Villages in Shigar have changed little in over five hundred years; farms with fields of barley, wheat and vegetables surrounded by stone walls and stands of poplar, willow and apricot trees. The apricot is a very important crop in the north, having a multitude of uses to the Balti and Hunzakut people. Villagers greet us as we pass through on the rugged dirt and stone road that leads to Baltoro. As we approach, the landscapes become desert like and once within the sheer valley of the Braldu, it is necessary to cross the river several times by suspension bridges. At various points the road may have collapsed due to erosion and we will transfer the gear across on foot to a vehicle on the other side. The journey may take anywhere from six to twelve hours, or possibly two days as a result! With patience, we will arrive at our first camp of the trek and the expedition will begin in earnest. In Askole the villagers grow their own cereals, vegetables and fruit and own large herds of sheep, goats and dzos. Overnight in tents
Day

7

TREK TO JHOLA (3200M) APPROX 6 hrs
After considerable organisation of equipment, supplies and porter loads for the journey ahead, we commence trekking towards Jhola. The valley opens out to reveal the Biafo Glacier flowing for more than fifty kilometres from the Hispar La pass to the Braldu. We have our first taste of moraine walking as we cross the snout of the glacier and descend to our lunch spot beside the river. We also experience the harsh, stark environment that forms the base of these great mountains. Our route takes us to the confluence of the Braldu and Dumordo Rivers where the infamous flying fox or 'jola' is located. It is still there, however a footbridge has now been built making the passage much easier by every perspective. (Consider individual passage of 50 to 70 people with loads, compared with walking straight across a steel bridge!). In past years it was necessary to make a high traverse across a rocky face and descend steeply to the riverside of the Dumordo to gain the flying fox. There is now a safe and pleasant pathway above the river. It is this valley, fed by the Panmah Glacier that was once a passage between Baltistan and Yarkhand across the West Mustagh Pass (5370m) into China. Once across, we descend beside the river to the Braldu and then follow along its banks to our camp.
Day

8

TO PAIJU (3450M) APPROX 7 - 8 hrs
The route is mainly at riverside throughout the day, switching up and down somewhat according to the level of erosion and water levels of the Braldu. The Masherbrum Group may be glimpsed to our right via the Xiangang Valley. The range is a vast array of peaks that extend almost the full length of the southern side of Baltoro. Walking conditions are hot and dry and care must be taken to prevent sunburn, especially when most members will have come from a southern winter! As we approach camp several small glacially fed rivulets flow down from the north and the first peaks of the Trango and Uli Biaho group appear on the distant ridgeline. The vast snout of the Baltoro glacier, the fourth longest in Pakistan, is also visible but it's hard to gather a sense of scale from here
Day

9

PAIJU – REST DAY
An important preparatory stage for our crew and porters. Our goats are slaughtered and roti (breads) baked throughout the day for the journey ahead on the glacier. It is a welcome opportunity for us to relax, read and take photos. Perhaps do some washing and simply enjoy being in the mountains.
Day

10

TO KURBUTSE (3930M) APPROX 7-8 hrs
Making the short approach to the glacier, the great expanse of ice stretching across the Braldu comes into perspective when we see the many porters forming an ant-like trail across it. Ice cliffs tower more than sixty metres above the turbulent waters at the origin of the Braldu River. As a result of its continually changing nature, the glacial moraine may be difficult to trek upon at this stage and our route varies somewhat each time. One should be prepared for a hard day of walking and carry plenty of fluid. Once at the other side, the trail will hug the side and occasionally necessitate a glacier or river crossing. There are now uninterrupted views of Paiju Peak (6610m), Uli Biaho group, Trango Group and Cathedral Group - a majestic, spired collection of mountains that the Karakoram are so well known for. Behind us the steep grassy slopes make high grazing pastures for ibex and the rocks are home to mouse hares (Pikas) and colourful hoopoe birds which forage for food scraps.
Day

11

URDUKUS (4050M) APPROX 3-4 hrs
An easier day's walk, following a good trail at the side of the Baltoro with two feeding glaciers to cross enroute. It is Great Trango (5844m), facing eastwards, that is considered the greatest cliff face in the world and the point from which two Australians made a world record base jump in 1992. On the trail, pony trains carrying supplies to army camps are often passed and occasional helicopters overhead provide a reminder of our proximity to the disputed territory of Kashmir nearby. The grassy camp of Urdukas is well located before the mountains and is our last before continuing glacial camps. If the weather is clear at the head of the valley we may see Broad Peak (8050m) and Gasherbrum IV (7930m), two of the most prominent peaks of the region.
Day

12

TO GORO II (4380M) APPROX 6-7 hrs
Descending rugged terrain onto the glacier, we cross to the centre where it is easier trekking. We weave over rolling mounds of rock and scree, not unlike that of a quarry and head almost in a direct path to GIV. We are in fact steering slightly northwards to a moraine hollow where Goro II is situated. The vast glacial highway of the Yermanendu feeds in from the south, leading from the many mountains around Biarchedi. Crystal and Marble Peaks are now right before us. Looking back towards Paiyu, the impressive mountain groups that have dominated our views over the last few days are now dwarfed as we trek higher and further away.
Day

13

TO CONCORDIA (4650M) /K2 PEAK BASE CAMP(4900M) APPROX 8-9 hrs
8-9 hours slightly easy walk, with spectacular views and gigantic mountain panorama, including Muztagh Tower, Gasherbrum IV, Mitre Peak and the mighty K-2. Camp at Concordia named by Martin Conway after the place De La Concordia in Paris. Lunch at Concordia. You will be meeting some crevasses near Godwin Austin glacier. Overnight at tent.
Day

14

REST DAY AT BASE CAMP
A day to get established at base camp and to sort out personal and group equipment. We prepare for the climb.
Day

15-52

K2 PEAK ASCENT
We have up to 23 days to climb the peak. Three/Four camps will be established above BC: camp 1 at 5300m, camp 2 at 6400m (Approx.) camp 3 at 7200m and camp 4 at 7400m (approx).
Day

53

DEPART BASE CAMP-GORO II APPROX 7-8hrs
Together with our staff, we will dismantle base camp and retrace the trekking trail down to Goro II
Day

54

GORO II TO KHUBURTSE
Day

55

KHUBURTSE TO JOLA
Day

56

JOLA TO ASKOLI
Day

57

DRIVE FROM ASKOLI TO SKARDU
An early start from Askoli will enable us to reach Skardu in time for lunch and spend a relaxing afternoon at Hotel.
Day

58

FLY FROM SKARDU TO ISLAMABAD/ OR DRIVE TO CHILAS
Day

59

DRIVE FROM CHILAS TO ISLAMABAD/ OR FREE DAY IN ISLAMABAD
Day

60

FLY FROM ISLAMABAD TO HOME
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