One of the most adventurous and marvelous scenic treks in the Karakoram offers a breathtaking view of the highest mountains and longest glaciers outside the polar region. Gondogoro Pass is a 5650-meter high mountain pass in the Baltistan region of Pakistan 25 km south of its second-highest peak, K2. It connects the Gondogoro Glacier on the southwest and the Vigne Glacier on the northeast. On the southwest side, the route down from the pass descends into the Hushe village, which contains the uppermost settlements of the Ghangche District. Most climbers and trekkers approach from the northeast side.
One of the most adventurous and marvelous scenic treks in the Karakoram offers a breathtaking view of the highest mountains and longest glaciers outside the polar region.
Concordia’s other route leads south to the picturesque Hushey Valley over Gondogoro Pass (5650 m) for the return journey. Traversing over Gondogoro Pass offers the ocean’s panoramic views of lofty peaks, including K2, Broad Peak, GI, GII, with other Karakorum gigantic peaks from the pass and the exploration of awe-inspiring Hushe Valley instead of returning by the same way. Hushey Valley is surrounded by breathtaking views of glaciers and mountains like Masherbrum (7821 m), K6 (7282 m), K7, Laila Peak, etc. This valley offers several short treks with magnificent views. This trek can also be started from Hushe and end at Askoli in the reverse direction. Climbing Gondogoro Pass requires physical fitness and involves the use of rope and ice axes.
In 1986, a route was established that connects Concordia in the upper Baltoro Glacier to the Hushey Valley over the Gondogoro Pass. Since then, this challenging technical pass has attracted trekkers and climbers alike. This pass has one of the most overwhelming mountain panoramas anywhere globally, with Karakoram’s 8000m peaks close at hand. The Gondogoro La, though popular with trekkers, involves Class 4 climbing with crampons. The northeast side has up to 50-degree snow slopes with avalanche danger requiring fixed ropes. The southwest side is a longer, continuous 50-degree slope with rock-fall and avalanche danger that needs fixing as much as 300 meters of yarn.
The view from the summit of this nearly 5700 m. pass (Gondogoro La) is beyond description. In the opinion of many, it is merely the most pleasing mountain panorama in the world. K-2, Broad Peak, the four Gasherbrums, Trinity Peak, Laila Peak, and many lesser pinnacles touch the heavens all around you. One must make an extra effort from Concordia to see this spectacle. The trek to the top of the Gondogoro La includes some 60-degree ice and snow slopes climbs that require an ice ax, crampons, harness, helmet, ropes, and carabiners.
The trek’s first leg takes us to Concordia (see the K-2 Trek description for this trip segment). Upon leaving Concordia, we hike up to Ali Camp, situated above the Vigne Glacier. The fluted and icy-white slopes of Chogolisa tower in front of us, reminiscent of a wedding gown, which gives Chogolisa its other name: Bride Peak. At 2:00 a.m., we leave Ali Camp for Gondogoro La.
We trek in darkness across the Vigne Glacier, reaching the bottom of the pass by early dawn at around 5:00 a.m. The morning light illuminates the immense snow walls that surround us. Ropes are fixed on the steepest slopes, and we begin our ascent, cresting the Gondogoro La by 9:00 A.M.Slowly, the shark-like summit of mighty K-2 emerges above a nearby ridge, crowning the scene with its second-highest-mountain-on-the-planet glory. After a few spellbinding minutes on top of Gondogoro La, we make a steep descent into the glaciated valley utilizing strategically-placed fixed ropes as aids. By midday, we reach Hispang, a beautiful campsite at 4833 m. We rest by a glacial stream surrounded by swaths of colorful mountain flowers and gentle green slopes.
The next leg of our journey is three or four days of easy trekking down to Hushe village. On the way, we pass shining alpine lakes, shepherds in their meadows, and ancient villages. Masherbrum (7821 m.) shyly reveals her other side as we approach Hushe. Hushe is eastern Baltistan’s counterpart to Askolie and home to many of the best climbers and mountaineers in Pakistan. We meet our jeeps upon arrival and wind above the Shyok River and past the town of Khapulu. Here, we get our last look at vistas unchanged since the time of Marco Polo. After crossing the famous confluence of the mighty Indus and Shyok Rivers, we continue through landscapes of overwhelming scenic intensity to Skardu’s busy town. Our passage out of the high mountains is now complete, and our return to Islamabad is either by road or air.
Trip Name K2 Gondogoro Laa Trek
Location Hushey Baltistan
Ideal Time June-September
Duration 23 days
Day 1, Rawalpindi/Islamabad
Hotel, trek briefing. We will have ample time for sightseeing and shopping in Rawalpindi’s colorful old bazaars and new Islamabad markets. We may also drive to the enormous modern Faisal Mosque in Islamabad.
Day 2, Skardu ( 2,500 8,200 ft.)
Hotel, flight. We will be on the most fantastic commercial plane globally, taking us from Islamabad to Skardu. If the weather is terrible, we will drive in two days on the famous KKH to Skardu.
Day 3, Askolie (3,300 m 10,825 ft)
Camp, 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!
Day 4, Korofong (3,500 m 11,480 ft)
Camp, the trek begins. The walk from Askolie to Korofong is comfortable, gentle straight, and can be done 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.
Day 5, Bardumal (3,550 m 11,650 ft)
Camp, trek, river crossing. 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 a bridge upstream. Depending upon the time it takes for the intersection, the walk can take 8 hours or more.
Day 6, Paiyu (3,666 m 12,025 ft)
Camp, trek. This takes about 6 hours of walking and will give us our first sight of the mighty Baltoro Glacier and the Trango and Cathedral Groups. Paju is the last campsite before the Baltoro. Efforts are underway to clear out the pollution, and there has also been a recent plantation of many trees in the area. The walk follows the Biaho River to Paju. The campsite is perched high above the valley with excellent views.
Day 7, Paiyu (3,666 m 12,025 ft)
Camp, rest day. Wash up, relax, read, climb on a steep ridge behind the camp, sing and dance with the porters! Depending upon the party’s size, 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, Khoburse (3,800 m 12,460 ft)
Camp, trek on Baltoro Glacier. Six to eight hours of walking. It is a tough day as we climb on the Baltoro’s rocky moraines, 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, Urdukas (3,950 m 12,950 ft)
Camp, Baltoro Glacier. A short 4 hour plus walk on the rocky moraines and ablation valley of the Baltoro. We will cross a couple of icy side glaciers on the way and may have our first sight of Broad Peak and the Gasherbrum. The historical campsite is located on a grassy slope high above the Baltoro and commands one of the most extreme mountain views in this world. The Duke of Abruzzi prepared the camp at the beginning of this century.
Day 10, Goro (4,300 m 14,100 ft)
Camp, Baltoro Glacier. 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 8 hours to get to Goro. 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 4 right in front of us. Goro is a cold campsite! It has a great view of the Muztagh Tower.
Day 11, Concordia (4,550 m 14,925 ft)
Camp, Baltoro Glacier. An easy 4 hour plus a walk. As we enter the Throne Room of the Mountain Gods and see K2 emerging on our left, we feel that we have arrived at an exceptional place on the planet. For many, it is a lifelong goal and a pilgrimage to come here. A place of superlatives and without any parallels!
Day 12, Concordia (4,550 m 14,925 ft)
Camp, rest, explore base camps. You can sit and watch K2 all day long and sip tea, which many have done and have still not been able to get K2 in their system fully! Or you can go on a whole long day tiring trip to K2 Base Camp; or go the other way towards the Gasherbrum peaks.
Day 13, Ali Camp (5,050 m 16,560 ft)
Camp, trek on Vigne Glacier. This is done in 6 plus hours. The first few hours are difficult going as we get on the Vigne Glacier from the Baltoro. Once on the Vigne, it is a straightforward uphill walk on a stiff white glacier, a significant relief from the Baltoro. Ali Camp is surprisingly a warmer camp when compared to Goro and Concordia. It is located on a bird’s nest-like small rocky area above the Vigne. The view looking down towards Concordia and K2 is powerful.
Day 14, Hispang (4,833 m 15,850 ft)
Leave Ali Camp 2:00 a.m., cross Gondogoro La (5,700 m.), descend Gondogoro Glacier, arrive at Hispang campsite at 2:00 p.m., a long, tough day. Wow! What a day! This is the apex of the whole trip. The first part of the walk is in darkness over rocks. As we enter the upper Vigne basin, we get on ice and snow. The route has been set for us, and we walk while being cautious of crevasses. The ascent begins around 5:00 a.m. Ropes have been fixed for us. We should be on top of the pass before 9:00 a.m. All along, we are helped and assisted by the staff. Said: from Gondogoro La top, there is no other comparable mountain view on this planet! The descent is more challenging and steeper than the ascent. Ropes again have been fixed, and we descend about three pitches with the help of ropes. Once again, we are assisted at every step by the staff. Walking into the lush green Hispang Campsite with a running shallow sandy stream is like entering into heaven!
Day 15, Dalsam Pa (4,200 m 13,780 ft)
Camp, trek, Gondogoro Glacier. The most challenging part of this leg is where we get off the Gondogoro Glacier and a tiny walkway section. For most of the way, it is a gentle and beautiful walk to Dalsam Pa. It takes about 4 hours.
Day 16, Saicho (3,400m 11,150 ft)
Camp, trek. We slowly come back to civilization as we travel through high villages and summer pastures of the people from Hushe. There are fantastic views of K6 and K7 towards our left on this walk. This lasts about 4 hours.
Day 17, Saitcho (3,400 m 11,150 ft)
Camp, rest. You can play some volleyball in the heart of the Karakorams here!
Day 18, Hushe (2,750 m.)
Camp, trek. We walk for about 3 hours and have fantastic views of Masherbrum on the right. We have successfully circumnavigated this mighty peak! Hushe is a much more affluent village than Askolie.
Day 19, Skardu (2,500 m 8,200 ft)
Hotel, jeep drive. It takes about 8 hours on the jeep to Skardu from Hushe. On the way, we cross the Shyok River near Khapulu. The sharp rising pinnacles from the sandy bed of the Shyok is a powerful sight. Lower down, crossing the Indus on Humayun Bridge at its famous and historical confluence with the Shyok is also a thrill.
Day 20, Rawalpindi/Islamabad
Hotel, flight, trek debriefing.
Day 21, Rawalpindi/Islamabad
Extra ‘cushion’ day!
Note: Day 21 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.
• SERVICES INCLUDED
1. All Airport pick and drop
2. One-way fare between––Skardu – Islamabad.
3. Transportation briefing, debriefing, and sightseeing.
4. Transportation between Islamabad – chilas – Skardu -Askoli–Hushe- Fairy meadow.
5. Three nights’ Accommodation, the twin bedroom in Islamabad (bed & breakfast)
6. One night in Chilas Hotel with full board.Two nights in Fairy meadow with the entire board.
7. Two nights in fairy meadow hut with full board.
8. Two nights in Tarnishing with full board.
9. Three nights in Skardu with full board.
10. Local staff Wages, insurance, food, and equipment.
11. Low porters to carry trekking foods, member personal to all mentioned places.
12. Way up 25kg each trekking members.
13. Way down 25kg each trekking members.
14. All trekking and base camp foods.
15. Comfortable members tent, Mess tent, Kitchen tent, toilet tent, table, chairs & kitchen utensils.
16. Assistance for Reconfirmation of international flight tickets.
17. All Camping fees, road taxes & bridge crossing fees.
18. Low Porters types of equipment.
19. Documentation fee
20. Trekking permit fee
• SERVICES NOT INCLUDED
1. Member international flight tickets
2. Helicopter emergency rescue fees (refundable after deduction of U$D 500/- if not use, it is now US$15000/-
3. Members any climbing gears
4. Member personal insurance
5. Sleeping bag and all personal expenses such as telephone calls, fax, email charges, liquor or soft drinks,
6. Room service, gratuities for personal services, items of a purely personal nature
7. Custom clearing charges (import and export of types of equipment)
8. Any unforeseen expenses (just like road block extra hotel stay or if members stay more days at Base Camp), then members will be payable according to the numbers of days basses.
9. Trekking members will come together. If any/some member split during the period, then their extra expenses will be charged according to the average price