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Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Trip report for Snow Lake & Hispar La in Pakistan during July/ August 2019

Photo: Celebrating with the crew at Hispar La (credit: Jo Clark)
In July we organised Snow Lake & Hispar La trek in Pakistan and the leaders for this trek were Jo Clark (UK), Karim (Pakistan) and Sultan (Pakistan). Jo led our successful K2 Base Camp & Gondogoro La trek last Summer and enjoyed returning this Summer to lead this more remote and less frequently trekked mountain journey through the Karakoram mountains from Baltistan to Hunza Valley.

This Summer we organised three groups in Pakistan: K2 Base Camp & Concordia, K2 Base Camp & Gondogoro La and to Snow Lake & Hispar La. All of these groups started on the same dates and everyone flew from Islamabad up to Skardu together. Robert Anderson led our K2 Base Camp group to Concordia and over Gondogoro La whereas Jo led our Snow Lake group over Hispar La to Hunza. Both the K2 Base Camp and Snow Lake treks start at the village of Askole and the trail separates in the afternoon of the first day's walk. Like most of our groups this Snow Lake group was an international mix with people coming from UK, Australia, Poland and New Zealand.

Photo: Walking up the Biafo Glacier (credit: Jo Clark)
Photo: Walking across Snow Lake (credit: Jo Clark)
Photo: Just starting up Hispar La pass (credit: Jo Clark)

Photo: Camping on the Hispar La (credit: Jo Clark)
In her own words Jo Clark summarises her experience leading Snow Lake trek below:

"Leaving Askole, we said goodbye to the K2 trekking group led by Robert and headed towards the west up the Biafo Glacier. As we slowly made our way up the glacier, the terrain changed from rocky moraine to an icy trail littered with small crevasses. At the same time the weather turned and we had a few days of rain.

After a week of trekking, the clouds cleared, the sun came out and Snow Lake shone in the distance. With a few avid photographers on the trek, the clear views and majestic mountains made for some early morning sunrise photos and lots of distraction during the day.

On the day we trekked to the pass, a dawn start saw the team roped up and traversing the majestic Snow Lake with views of The Ogre and thoughts of far away expeditions. The flat open expanse of Snow Lake is difficult to imagine and the many false summits of the pass make it just a little longer and further that you think it should be. However, arriving on top of the snowy pass is well worth the effort and everyone was excited to have reached the top and camp in such an incredible location.

The five day descent towards Hispar Village is the more challenging side of the trek with glaciers to cross and steep sandy slopes to climb and descend. However the vast array of flowers, the views and perfect weather, and the yaks we met as we got lower made the harsh terrain and effort worth every step.

Having seen just one other group over the past ten day our arrival in the relative civilisation of Hipar Village was a change of pace, but the campsite was grassy and villagers friendly, providing us with a pleasant transition before the 4WD journey to Karimabad the next morning."

Photo: Descending towards Hispar Glacier (credit: Jo Clark)
Photo: Looking back at the pass and the Ogre (credit: Jo Clark)

We track all of our groups in the field with GPS check ins from Thuraya satellite phone and this year we have started using Google Maps in real time so friends and families can follow their progress - you can see the Google Maps for Snow Lake & Hispar La.

As you can see this group successfully made the traverse over Hispar La into Hunza Valley. I have copied below the comments from one member of this group on her AITO review:

"I trekked through the beautiful mountains and on the Biafo glacier crossing over snow lake and the Hispar la pass in Pakistan with The Mountain Company. I have trekked with them 3 times and each trek was run using a western leader. The Mountain Company always executes trips that operationally run smoothly and focus on clients safety whilst ensuring that everyone has an unforgettable travelling experience."

Jo took video during this trek, she has edited and uploaded to The Mountain Company's Channel on YouTube. As you can see the scenery is superb and by watching this video will give you a good insight and feel of what to expect on this trek.

Thanks very much to Jo, Karim and Sultan and the cook Nisar for all of their help leading and organising this trek. Well done and congratulations to the group for completing this challenging trek and making the traverse into Hunza Valley.

We plan to organise Snow Lake & Hispar La trek in July 2020, please get in contact with us if you are interested in joining this group.

Roland Hunter

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