Snowland
Gondogoro Peak ascent

K2 & Gondogoro La

Key Destinations

Islamabad-Skardu-Shigar-Braldu-Baltoro Glacier
Concordia-K2-Broad Peak-Gondogoro La
Hushe-Khaplu-Karakoram Highway
Trip Summary

Daily Walking: 6-8 Hours

Max Altitude: 5650m

Duration: 21 Days

Trekking: 13-14 Days

K2 photo

Trip Highlights

  • A spectacular trek up the Baltoro glacier, K2 BC and over the challenging Gondogoro la pass and down the beautiful Hushe valley.
  • Views of K2, Broad Peak, Mashabrum, GI & II, Trango towers and Laila peak among many others.
  • Walking in Concordia and the Baltoro Glacier
  • One of the world`s top 5 trekking adventures
  • Experience the picturesque Hushe Valley in Pakistan.

Trip Overview

This challenging trek gives great views of four 8,000m peaks and is thought by many to be one of the best high mountain treks in the world. Some of the wildest and most dramatic landscapes on earth are found in the vast, rugged Karakoram Range situated in Northern Pakistan. Remote and spectacular, the icy peaks and vast Glaciers of the Karakoram offer unparalleled opportunities for adventurous trekking. The 62km long Baltoro Glacier is Pakistan’s number one trekking destination. Seven of the world’s twenty-five highest peaks rise above this glacier, while the lower reaches are surrounded by some of the world’s highest granite walls and spires.

The Baltoro Glacier meets the Vigne and Godwin-Austen glaciers at the huge natural amphitheatre of Concordia. This is one of the most spectacular mountain campsites in the world. The huge pyramid of K2 only 10km distant dominates the view and creates a very special atmosphere. Our programme allows three days in the upper reaches of the Baltoro Glacier to savour the majesty of this unique place. The highest point reached on this trek is the 5,650m summit of the Gondogoro La. This is a challenging and technical route, which links the high glacial basin of the upper Baltoro with the green Hushe Valley to the south. The view from the summit is one of the most overwhelming mountain panoramas in the world, with four of the Karakoram 8,000m peaks close at hand.

Our new itinerary combines all that is best in the Karakoram: a visit to K2 Base camp, a challenging ascent of a high pass, and the chance to experience two very different valleys. This trek offers variety and excitement. It is an unforgettable mountain experience.

The Gondogoro La 5,650m

This is the most frequently used high altitude pass in the Karakoram. Since its discovery in the late 1980′s it has provided a popular alternative route to/from K2 Base Camp. Prior to this all groups trekking to K2 Base Camp had to retrace their approach route along the Baltoro Glacier. The existence of the Ghondokoro La creates the possibility of a more interesting and challenging trek, travelling to K2 via the Baltoro Glacier and exiting the area via the Ghondokoro La. The route up the north side of the pass is entirely on snow. It is necessary to leave Ali camp (5,000m) in the early hours of the morning. The approach to the pass involves crossing a fairly flat glacier. This will be done in the hours of darkness, and it may be necessary to use to ropes to safeguard against hidden crevasses. The ascent from the foot of the pass to the top is about 450m. There is usually a good trail in the snow made by previous groups and most of the climbing involves putting your feet in steps frozen into the snow. The average angle is around 30°, but there are one or two short steps where this steepens to 45°. There will be fixed ropes on these sections that can be used as a handrail.

We aim to reach the top as the first light of dawn illuminates the high peaks of the Karakoram. Four 8,000m peaks are clearly visible to the north, and previously unseen mountain ranges to the south are revealed. This is one of the most spectacular mountain vistas in the whole Himalayan mountain chain. The distant green patch visible 5km to the south and 1,000m lower is the inviting campsite at Huespah that we descend towards. The steep south facing descent is normally devoid of snow in the late summer season. The trail is entirely on rock and scree, although some patches of ice can be encountered. Fixed ropes will be used on the steepest sections at the start of the descent. Depending on snow conditions and the number of other parties on the route there can be a danger of stonefall during this descent. For this reason we recommend that all members of the group use climbing helmets. In ideal conditions trekkers have crossed this pass without using any technical climbing equipment. However in order to ensure a safe crossing Snowland recommend that all team members are equipped with strong footwear, suitable crampons and an ice axe.

Holiday Itinerary

Day

1

ARRIVE RAWALPINDI/ISLAMABAD AND TRANSFER TO HOTEL
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

FLY TO SKARDU (45 min Flight)/ DRIVE TO CHILAS (10-12 Hours Drive)
a) Weather permitting, we take a spectacular flight to the high mountain region of Baltistan in the north east. On a clear day we should be able to see Nanga Parbat (8124m) and K2 (8611m) towering above all other mountains. (It is quite possible adverse weather in Islamabad or Skardu may affect our flight plans and make it necessary to drive by the Karakoram Highway to Skardu, a journey of approx two days).
b) In case of cancellation of flight drive 10-12hrs by air conditioned coach/car to Chilas (480km) on the Karakoram highway. Overnight at Shangrila Indus View Hotel or Panorama hotel.

Day

3

DRIVE TO SKARDU (2340m) FROM CHILAS/REST DAY (8-9 Hours Drive)
a) Overnight Mashabrum Hotel. Preparations for our trek 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. b) If we are driving the road journey today will be 7-8 hrs to Skardu (275km). On route are spectacular views of Nanga Parbat (8125m) overnight Hotel.

Day

4

DRIVE TO ASKOLI (3000M) FROM SKARDU APPROX 7-8 HOUR DRIVE
Jeep drive. It takes about six hours to drive from Skardu to Askolie or near Askolie. The drive through the Braldu Gorge is guaranteed to knock your socks off Overnight in tents.

Day

5

TREK TO JHOLA (3200M) FROM ASKOLI APPROX 6-8 HOUR HIKE
After considerable organisation of equipment, supplies and porter loads for the journey ahead, we commence trekking towards Jhola. The walk from Askolie to Jhola is on an easy gentle plain and can be done in 6 to 8 hours. We cross the snout of the Biafo Glacier on the way. The first sight of the pinnacles of the Paiyu Group is stunning. Overnight in tents

Day

6

TREK TO PAIYU (3450M) FROM JULA APPROX 7 - 8 HOURS HIKE
We follow the Braldu and the Biaho rivers to a river’s edge campsite. On the way we have to cross the Domurda River coming out of Choktoi and Panmah Glaciers. This crossing is done on a ‘garari’ or on a bridge upstream. Depending upon the time it takes for the crossing, the walk can take 8 hours or more.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.

Day

7

PAIYU – REST DAY FOR WASH UP, RELAX AND ACCLIMITISATION
Rest day. Wash up, relax, read, climb on a steep ridge behind the camp, sing and dance with the porters! Depending upon the size of the party, goats or a goat will be sacrificed and meat will be distributed to the porters as a form of thanksgiving and to bring us good luck on our next day’s walk on the Baltoro.

Day

8

TREK TOKHOBURCHE (3930M) FROM PAIYU APPROX 6-8 HOURS HIKE
Trek on Baltoro Glacier. Six to eight hours of walking. A tough day as we climb on the rocky moraines of the Baltoro, but the sight of Baltoro pinnacles and Paiyu Peak is astounding! An earlier alternative campsite is Liligo, but there is no water there. We will cross some gushing streams on the way.

Day

9

HIKE FROM KHOBURCHE TO URDUKUS (4050M) APPROX 3-4 HOURS
A short 4 hour plus walk on the rocky moraines and ablation valley of the Baltoro. We will cross couple of icy side glaciers on the way and may have our first sight of Broad Peak and the Gasherbrums. The historical campsite is located on a grassy slope high above the Baltoro and commands one of the most intense mountain views in this world. The campsite was prepared by the Duke of Abruzzi in the beginning of this century.

Day

10

TREK FROM URDUKUS TO GORO II (4380M) APPROX 6-7 HOURS
This is a tough day’s walk on the undulating Baltoro. However, the footing becomes easy as the rocks become smaller and smaller as we move up the Baltoro. It takes about 7 hours to get to Goro II. We walk right smack up the center moraine of the Baltoro. As Masherbrum emerges on the right, it takes our breath away and so does Gasherbrum IV right in front of us. Goro is a cold campsite! It has a great view of the Muztagh Tower.

Day

11

TREK TO CONCORDIA (4650M) FROM GORO II APPROX 4-5 HOURS
A special day today as we trek into Concordia and enjoy our first views of K2 (weather permitting!). This location must be considered one of the world's most spectacular camps as it is totally surrounded by stunning peaks. As we leave Goro II, the Biange Glacier to the north provides a superb view up to Mustagh Tower (7284m), one of the most difficult mountains in the Karakoram to climb. The trail continues along fairly easy rolling slopes of moraine marked by cairns and then passes among ice towers or seracs as we approach the colliding glaciers at Concordia. Mitre Peak (6030m) rises to our right, with Golden Throne (Baltoro Kangri) (7312m) beside it, while the Gasherbrum Group is directly before us. The expanse of Broad Peak (8050m) is to the left and finally K2 (8611m) looms above the ridge towering over the Godwin Austen Glacier twelve kilometres away.

Day

12

CONCORDIA-K-2 BASE CAMP-CONCORDIA Approx 9-10 hrs
Our schedule is somewhat flexible according to the prevailing weather conditions and group preference. One of our objectives is to visit K2 Base Camp (approx 5150m) , a spectacular full day trip from camp.The most exciting day of this trek as you walk past Broad peak and get nearer to K-2 and arrive at the strip which is the most popular camping area for nearly all the expeditions to K-2. Here some of the top climbers of the world can be seen busy in preparations for the challenges ahead. Return to your camp at Concordia for overnight (K-2 base camp is too high and trekkers can get seriously ill from altitude if they stay for the night at this altitude, therefore the group must return to Concordia).

Day

13

HIKE ON VIGNE GLACIER – ALI CAMP APPROX 5-6 HOURS(5010M)
Today we trek for 5-6 hours on the Vigne Glacier with superb views of Chogolisa and Mitre Peak. Overnight will be spent at Ali camp just below the pass.

Day

14

ALI CAMP, CONTINGENCY DAY IN CASE OF BAD WEATHER
Adverse weather conditions may prevent us from our ascent of the La, and it may be necessary to delay our crossing. Your guide will assess the weather, ice and snow conditions.

Day

15

GONDOGORO LA (5650M) CROSSING APPROX 8-10 HOURS
8-10 hours, 930m ascent, 1260m descent. We must start very early in the morning (1am) for our crossing of the pass. After 4-5 hours of steep and strenuous ascent we gain the top to be rewarded with stunning views of K2, Broad Peak and the Gasherbrums. The lovely snow and granite knife edged peak of Laila (6200m), first climbed unofficially in 1987 by a British expedition and unofficially in 1996 by an Italian expedition, rises over the Gondogoro Glacier as we turn to descend. We descend 3-4 hrs to Xhuspang camp (4680m). Xhuspang is named for the turquoise (xhu) flowers which blanket this grassy place in summer.

Day

16

HIKE FROM ZHUSPANG TO SHAIESCHO (3330M) APPROX 6-7hrs
Continuing along the lateral moraine we descend to Shaieshcho, a picturesque campsite nestled amongst tamarisks, wild roses and junipers set beside the river. There are views up to the Charakusa Valley towards K7 (6934m). Tonight there is the chance for song and dance as the porters are relaxed and happy with a successful crossing of the Gondogoro La behind them.

Day

17

HIKE TO HUSHE FROM SHAIESCHO (3050M) APPROX 3-4 HOURS
Today is our final day of trekking in Pakistan. 3-4 hours of easy descent bring us to the village of Hushe. Nestled in the Hushe Valley it is the gateway for many expeditions travelling to Masherbrum, the Charakusa and Nangma valleys. Time permitting we may have the option of a short climb to the top of a hillside on the edge of the village to gain unparalleled views of the mountain tops of the entire Baltoro.

Day

18

DRIVE TO SKARDU (2340M) FROM HUSHE APPROX 8 HOUR DRIVE

Day

19

FLY TO ISLAMABAD OR DRIVE TO CHILAS FROM SKARDU
a) Weather permitting we will fly to Islamabad today, on arrival transfer to the Invite Inn Guest House for overnight. b) In case of flight cancellation it is necessary to drive to Chilas and overnight at the Chilas Inn or Panorama hotel on the banks of the Indus.

Day

20

RAWALPINDI/ISLAMABAD REST DAY OR CONTINGENCY/ CUSHION DAY
Extra 'cushion' day! *Note: Day 20 will be used as a 'cushion' day in case of delays in travel due to weather, route change, health, acclimatization issues during the trek, etc.

Day

21

TRIP CONCLUDES IN ISLAMABAD AND FLY BACK TO HOME
After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport for your return flight

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Our holidays are generally organised to maximise the time spent on the activity you have chosen to come to Pakistan for, with downtime in Islamabad kept to a minimum. However if you have the time, it is well worth extending your stay in the capital both before and after your main holiday or further extend the trip in Karakoram and Himalayan Mountains. Not only will this give a more relaxed feel to your holiday but the cities/villages that make up the Pakistan Valleys are rich in ancient culture and architecture, while shopping for bargains in the maze-like bazaars is a memorable experience. We can arrange extra nights in Islamabad staying in any of the hotels of your choice. Please contact us for a quote or simply request your additional night’s hotel requirements or trip extensions on your booking form.

The following  tours are suggested extensions of this trip:

Fairy Meadows and Nanga Parbat Base Camp Trek

Snow Lake and Biafo Hispar La Traverse 

 

K2&Gondogoro La Trek FAQs

How can I get more information about K2 & Gondogoro La Trek?

We produce comprehensive information for each of our trips. Once you’ve decided which trips interest you, please e-mail/call for a trip dossier. The trip notes/dossiers contain a detailed day by day route, photos and other information which may help answer any questions you may have. However,you can also discuss any particular trip with our office staff, who can give you practical first hand advice. Please email us at info@snowland.com.pk or snowlandtours@gmail.com  for further information, or use contact us form to send your inquiry.

How difficult is K2 base camp trek and Gondogoro La Crossing? What fitness level is required?

This tour is graded as Strenuous as it involves long hike and ascents on higher elevations. A good level of fitness is required for this trip, although there will be guides to escort you while trekking if you were to run into difficulty.

We are in our 60s but both reasonably fit, jogging regularly, do you think we would cope with the trekking as I have heard that the altitude can have a bad effect even on young people?

 Although there is trekking involved, it is never fast paced and all treks are carried out at the trekkers own pace. There will be support porters to assist if clients do get into trouble but as long as you take the trekking at a steady relaxed pace you should be fine. Altitude sickness can affect people in different ways and can affect people of all ages. The fittest young person on the tour may encounter altitude sickness more so than someone in their 60s.

What’s the age limit on K2 and Gondogoro La trek?

 There’s no upper age limit – we think that your age doesn’t really matter, as long as you’re willing to participate, experience new cultures and enjoy yourself. As long as you’re fit enough to take part in the tour then you’re more than welcome. We don’t however take children on our normal tours – we know that a lot of our travellers come on our trips to get away from the kids! Older teenagers may be allowed to join group tours provided they are accompanied by a parent or guardian who accepts full responsibility for them.

Can I use credit cards in the places visit in trekking?

In most cities yes (Islamabad, Skardu, Gilgit), to some extent, however once you leave those cities behind, all you need is cash.

Could you give some more information about the trek, the distance, the height climbed and the length of the trek? Don’t know how severe your ‘Strenuous trekking’ is?

In terms of distance covered, this ranges from 8 to 14 km depending on the day. As many trekkers will know, distance is not the most important factor, time is. The main trekking days (days 13-14) have approximate times of 6-8 hours. These times do of course depend on the level of fitness of the trekker. During the main trekking days, the maximum ascent the group take is 800m, but please remember the walks are up and down.

What’s the maximum number of people on my tour?

This depends on what Type/package of trip you’re doing. On our standard package it’s normally 4-12. However, there are some exceptions – you should check your trip dossier for full details.

 Will there be somewhere to charge my camera?

You will be able to charge your camera batteries in Askoli village.  There will be solar panels on the base camps installed for climbing expeditions you will usually be able to negotiate a small fee for a camp crew to charge your batteries.

What happens if I get sick?

The most important thing is DON’T PANIC. You should ALWAYS ensure that you have a well-stocked and appropriate medical kit as well as sufficient insurance in case you should have to be evacuated. A slight case of diarrhoea is to be expected, as well as sprains and muscle aches – all a part of walking in the hills. Altitude sickness is extremely dangerous but mostly avoidable if you follow a few simple rules: trek high and sleep low, drink at least 2 litres of water per day, and BE SENSIBLE. If you feel shortness of breath, a slight headache or dizziness, tell your porter/guide and rest immediately. Lie down, drink water. If you are still feeling unwell you may consider going down a few hundred metres. Do not pretend you are okay, and do not go down alone. A descent of a few hundred metres overnight may be enough to make you fully able to start trekking again tomorrow.

How much gear will I carry?

Porters will carry all of your gear except for your day pack, and they will break down and set up camp while you’re trekking each day. Your day pack will carry your water, rain gear, sunscreen, and camera, which typically weighs 4-6 kgs (10-12lbs). Personal porters can be arranged to help carry your daypack.

What Is the Temperature Range on the Mountain?

Temperatures on the mountain vary widely; it may be between  30C  to 40C   during the day and and -5 to -10 during the nights near the K2 base camp  and Gondogoro La. The weather often changes dramatically without warning, so you must always be prepared for rain, snow, carrying your waterproof shell at all times. Layering of several thin articles of clothing is the most flexible way to adjust to the weather you will experience as you trek higher and higher.

Will I See Wildlife on K2 and Gondogoro La Trek?

The Baltoro Glacier hiking trail is quite inhospitable to most species. The Ibex is rarely seen around campsites of Urdukus.You will likely spot footprints of snowleopard on the trail after crossing the Gondogoro la into Hushe Valley.

What is the weight limit for luggage on this trek?

It depends on the package you choose. However, normally, 13-20 kg (28.6-44 pounds) of personal luggage is permitted on K2 trek. If your luggage exceeds this allowance, there will be a surcharge. In general, it is recommended to only bring what you need for the trek. K2 trek leaves from and returns to Skardu. You can leave your luggage in your Skardu hotel and they will keep it safe for you. Personal porters can legally carry a maximum of 25 kg (55 pounds).

How can people contact me when I am on my trek?

If you bring a cell phone with international coverage, it will work in major cities and towns (Islamabad, Skardu, Shigar and Khaplu). However, on trek satellite phones will be provided on extra payment In addition, internet access is available at some of the hotels in towns.

What are the sources of drinking water supply during trekking?
 In the cities you can use bottled water . During the trekking  at all camps you will have boiled water . We also recommend you to bring water purification tablets with you.

What if I do not want to carry anything, and I need a porter to carry my day pack, camera, etc?

This is fine but will cost extra. You also need to tell us in advance, so we can arrange an additional porter. 

Why, when looking at different companies who offer K2 base camp & Gondogoro La Trek, the itinerary appears similar yet the costs often vary significantly?

The major sources of cost variations are the money spent on food, number of porters / guides provided porter and guide wages, quality of tents and the cost of getting to the glacier and pass. Snowland strives to provide quality food, well trained guides and porters, good tents and equipment, a full professional pre-climb orientation, inclusion of all park permits, and transfers in well maintained vehicles.  All this comes at a cost. We CHOOSE not to compromise on the quantity & quality of food, we will not exploit guides & porters by making them carry more than what they are required to by laws & regulations set by the government.

All in all, our aim is to increase your chances of crossing Gondogoro La whilst enjoying the experience which can only be successfully implemented if quality is not compromised and if the staffs provided are well taken care of.

What is the maximum weight allowed on domestic flights?
The normal weight limit is 20 kilogrammes on PIA flights from Islamabad to Skardu.

What are the washing/cleaning/toilets/shower facilities on Baltoro Glacier like?

The facilities on Baltoro Glacier are very basic at best.  

  • After Askoli village, single igloo type (Re-circulating chemical loo units) toilets are available on most of the campsite till Concordia. These are simple, deep pits or short pits that have been dug in the ground for use as toilets. These facilities have a roof and screen over them for privacy.
  • You do need to take your own toilet paper (2 rolls).
  • The snow streams/small river is used for the shower and washing facilities or in some villages(Askoli & Hushe) a simple water pipe is used to flow the water onto the trekker for washing.We suggest you bring environmentally friendly soap.
  • An Antibacterial Hand Gel is essential.
  • There are no specific changing rooms on the Baltoro Trek.

What are the walking times and distances each day? 

  • Wake up time on the track is usually around 5.00 am
  • Breakfast on the track is usually served from 6.00 am
  • We usually start walking around 7.00 am
  • There is usually 5-10 minute breaks every 30 mins or so along the track and depending on the size of the hill more often and a stop for morning tea and lunch.
  • Each walking day will vary between 5 to 9 hours with 7 to 8 hours being the average. On average, arrival times in the camps and villages are around 2.30pm to 3.30p.m. 

Is a walking pole necessary?

Walking poles are a must! They are used as a support and braking system for the steep downhill sections. You can buy walking poles through our office or from camping stores in Skardu. It is a good idea to train with the poles. Some people find one pole sufficient, but it is your choice.

What happens to the rubbish on Baltoro Glacier?

It is very important that we all take good care of the Trek. If you purchase soft drinks in Askoli or along the trail(Payu or Concordia camps), then you need to crush the cans and carry them out with you. All rubbish is either burnt or carried out. Whilst trekking, please put your own rubbish in your backpack until you arrive at the next campsite. If you see rubbish on the trail, pick it up and put it in our rubbish bags.

What Medical Facilities are there on the K2 Base Camp and Gondogoro La Trek?

Medical facilities catering to tourists are basic. There are hospitals and private clinics in Skardu town. However, there is no altitude clinic or hospital in Askoli and Hushe. There are pharmacies and small hospitals in Shigar and Khaplu, but other than that you’re on your own.

It’s important to bring all medicines you think you might need with you, including treatments for every minor ailment you’ve ever had, all the common stomach bugs and AMS, and to have full medical cover, including helicopter evacuation, on your travel insurance.

I’d like to see K2 but I’m not sure I want to spend 21 days there. Are There Alternatives to the K2 Base Camp Trek?

Yes! There are tonnes. And, given you can’t see K2 from K2 Base Camp ANYWAY, a shorter trek to lower altitudes might well make sense, although you’ll miss out on the high mountain experience.

The walk from Deosai plains to Burge La Top takes two-four days – some folk drive to Hushe Valley, climb to the top of village (Honbrok) to see the spectacular K2 view. Others use Skardu as a base for shorter treks in the region, divert off into the mountains to go wildlife spotting, or pick a valley to explore. One advantage of staying lower is that conditions are a lot more pleasant than higher up the trail. please visit our SEVEN WAYS TO K2 page for more details about all possible trips to K2 

 

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