Mountaineering :: Trekking :: Ski touring

 

 30 August - 14 September 2008


Jagged Globe website report by David Hamilton

All six expedition members reached the summit of Rush Peak on Tuesday 9th September. Conditions underfoot were worse than expected due to a thick covering of snow on the normally rocky slopes. The weather was fine for most of the expedition, but heavy snowfall on 6th September left deep deposits above 4000m. This prevented the team from reaching Golden Peak (Spantik) Base Camp as planned on the 7th. Instead they climbed Rush Peak a day ahead of schedule in reasonable weather. Ever changing cloud formations prevented views of the more distant peaks that can normally be seen from the summit.

This expedition managed to achieve a lot in a short period of time. Transport connections worked well and a combination of domestic flights and jeep travel on mountain roads saw the team ready to start trekking 4 days after leaving the UK even after a leisurely afternoon of sightseeing in Islamabad and another in the Hunza valley.

All the equipment needed had been left in the Hunza valley by the Jagged Globe expedition to Muztag Ata (Western China) that had travelled on the Karakoram Highway the previous week. While the group had a guided tour of Karimabad from Manzoor, our local contact, the expedition leader, cook and guide went shopping for provisions in the local market. The Baltit Inn provided a very comfortable place to recover from the journey and several of the group compared it to Kathmandu's Summit Hotel.

A short ride in open top jeeps took the group to Hopar (2825m) where they had a relaxed afternoon watching the local farmers harvesting their crops using techniques that have remained unchanged for centuries. The following day they set off on the three day trek along the southern side of Barpu Glacier. There was a good path for most of the way, but the route became more exciting on the three obligatory glacier crossings. The campsites were all grass covered and the team noted that this was one of the few treks in the Karakoram where tent pegs could be used. Views of Spantik's 'Golden Pillar' dominated this section of the trek. The colours were quite washed out in the morning as the sun rose behind the peak, but contrast increased in the evening and the eponymous golden hues emerged.

At this point cloud turned to rain, and rain quickly turned to snow. The campsite of Girgindil (3800m) that had been grass on arrival was under 20cm of snow 36 hrs later. It would have been difficult and dangerous to climb 1000m higher to Spantik Base camp, so the team chose to lose height in the hope of finding better weather. This gave them the chance to climb onto the ridge separating the Hispar and Barpu valleys one day ahead of schedule. From a camp at 4360m they set off to climb Rush Peak on 9th September. The climb typically takes 3 hours in good conditions when the trail is entirely on rock and scree. With a deep covering of snow the team took 4.5 hours arriving on the summit at 13.00 following a 08.30 start. The best maps of the area give a summit height of 5,098m but GPS readings gave a height 5,046m, which is probably more accurate.

Returning from the summit the trek continued its leisurely pace with two more short days walking required to reach Hopar before onward travel via Hunza and Gilgit to Islamabad for International flights home.

The team all agreed that the expedition had given a great opportunity to enjoy dramatic Himalayan landscapes in a short trip. The friendly, enthusiastic and hard working local staff added an extra dimension to the experience. Heavy snowfall forced a slight change of itinerary but did not adversely effect anyone's enjoyment of the programme.

14/09/2008
 

David Hamilton
High Adventure
67 Castle Road
Hartshill
Nuneaton
Warwickshire
CV10 0SG

Email:  david@highadventure.org.uk

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Skype:  davidhamilton8848

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