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Fairy Meadows, K2 & Gondogoro La and Deosai Burji La Trip Report 2009

Hey Guys, Just wanted to post a small trip report from a trip I made to Pakistan this last July. From the 3rd to the 28th 2009 I went with Snowland Treks and Tours (www.snowland.com.pk) and went to Fairy Meadows, then did the Gondogoro La Trek, and finally finished it up with Deosai/Burji la Trek.

Let me just start by saying that Pakistan is a wonderful, friendly, and welcoming country. With being an American, I was a little nervous at first going to Pakistan, but soon after arriving in Islamabad and then Skardu, I realized I didn’t need to be as worries as I was. Let me preface, by saying that these statements are only being made for Islamabad and the Northern Areas/Baltistan.

I can’t say this about the rest of the country as I haven’t been there, but I’m sure each place has it’s own unique characteristics. Fairy Meadows…..it was a wonderful trip up to Fairy Meadows. Basically the day after I flew into Islamabad, my guide and I went to do the briefing (for Gondogoro La Trek) and then that evening took the Jeep up to Chilas. Yes, we took the KKH during the night. It was only myself, the guide, the driver, and a cook. I felt safe the entire way up to Chilas, even with it being night. The road does pass by closely to the NWFP in one part, but I never felt in danger. We got into Chilas around 9-10am (after about 14hrs) and got a jeep right away to take us up to Fairy Meadows (or at least where you start the trek to fairy meadows). The road up to Fairy Meadows is crazy! Narrow and winds all the way up the mountain. Good driver though. We then camped at the spot where the jeep leaves you off.

 The following day we trekked up to Fairy Meadows, set up camp there and also went to Beyal Camp. The weather for being at Nanga Parbat couldn’t have been better. Not a cloud in the sky and fantastic views. Fairy meadows is a beautiful location and I’d recommend it to everyone. The next day we trekked back down from Fairy Meadows, got in the jeep, and then took our jeep back on the KKH to go to Skardu (8hrs). Once in Skardu, I was put up in a nice hotel and got to rest a bit and prepare for Gondogoro La.

The next morning, we got in the jeep and met up with the rest of my teammates and porters and cook and headed to Askole. After 6hrs we arrived in Askole and set up camp. The rest of the Gondogoro La Trek, I’m sure you know if you are interested and I won’t go into day by day detail. I’ll just say that it’s the most fantastic trek I’ve ever been on. It’s not extremely steep, but I will say that trekking on the Baltoro Glacier is quite difficult with its large rocks and boulders.

The weather for almost the entire trek was great. When we got to Urdukas, we did get some clouds, but it made the scenery even more dramatic and the clouds stayed for Goro II. When walking from Goro II to Concordia it did start to snow, but then cleared up that evening. Although only for a bit. That morning we woke up with about 4 inches of snow around our tents. It made for a spectacular view! It also made for a difficult trek to K2 Base Camp. In total it took us about 11 hrs to get from Concordia to K2 Base Camp to Concordia. Long day.

 As we looked at the forecast, it only looked like we’d have a two day window to get up to Gondogoro La to have a good view. So we only stayed in Concordia one day. The next day we hiked to Ali Camp and then that evening/night at Ali Camp, we made a push for Gondogoro La starting at 1am. The route up Gondogoro La was perfect, almost too perfect. The steps were kicked in and we got up the mountain fast.

 Also, crossing the upper Vigne Glacier was all covered over with snow and hard snow at that. So we got to the top of Gondogoro La around 4:45 in the morning. So we stayed for just the first start of sunrise as two in our group were feeling the altitude. But let me tell you, that the view up there is worth it. 100%. So we started down Gondogoro La then around 5:30 and the way down was steep but not very difficult with crampons on. It was almost entirely snow (which I hear isn’t normal)….usually more of a snow/rock mix. So that made for an easier way down. Oh, for the way up, and the way down, there are fixed ropes, but we didn’t fix in. The steps were kicked in good enough, that it sufficed. We had one hand on the rope, the other hand with an ice axe (for self-arrest) if we would fall, and the steps kicked in below us. The way up Gondogoro La though is very steep. Anyway, the part of the trek through Hushe Valley was very nice as well and provides some beautiful views as well. All in all, it took us about 12-13 days to complete the Gondogoro La trek.

We rushed a bit due to weather forecasts and two on our group being on a tight schedule, but I don’t regret any bit of it. I can’t say enough about the views and the mountains you see. Finally, after Gondogoro La, I had a few days to do the Borgila Trek from Deosai. This trek is about 3-4 days and starts in Deosai and goes up to a 4800 meter pass called Borgila. It’s a great trek and a good one to do after Gondogoro La as you’ll be pretty tired after Gondogoro La. It has some great views from the pass (although it was a bit cloudy when I was there), and then you can have fun sliding down on your butt on the snow down the other side of the pass. Deosai itself is very beautiful as well and has some crazy weather. In total, it was a fantastic trip to Pakistan and I really want to go back again. The agency was great and really took care of me and made great food. I also felt safe there and they were a big part of that. If you want to see some pictures from my trek, you can go to my flickr account at My Flickr Site Hope this gives a little insight into my trek, and if you have any specific questions about Pakistan or these treks in general, let me know. I’d be happy to help.

Sincerely,

Michael Mellinger, USA

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