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Beyond Ghondoghoro

By Tahir Imran Khan

Kheuspan to concordia

This campsite is known as Kheuspan. It is also the base camp for Ghondoghoro Peak. Although it is not for form Dalsangpa but we had an overnight stop here to slow down our ascent, as the trek of ghondoghgoro from Hushe valley rise steeply, which is not good for toning of the body or acclimatisation, so we divided our trek in smaller portions of day walks to gain height gradually.

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Kheuspan to High Camp

Again this leg of the trek was very small as we walked only for a couple of hours to arrive at high camp. Apart from the reason to gain height slowly, we were also forced to stop, as we had to cross the Ghondoghoro pass next day and after this camp there wasn't any chance of finding a proper camping place before the pass.

Today, we enjoyed almost a rest day to restore our strength to cross the pass and after checking our preparations finally, we went to sleep early. High Camp to Ghondoghoro Pass.

According to our plan we were supposed to depart early before dawn at one O'clock in night. Since the ice in the night remains hard and provides good foothold to climbers and trekkers, so for the final portion of the trek, the suggested departure time is ideal.

As per schedule the wake up was decided at 12.00 at night, but a that time is was rainign outside and we were unable to come out from our tents for at least one hour. Suddenly the weather deteriorated. It started hailing and the temperature fell below freezing. Every body was worried and our senior staff member, Mohammad Ali announced that according to his experience, the weather will not change so soon and it was better to go back to a safe campsite before weather become furious. Following their leader, other porters also said that it, was dangerous to stay at high camp and they will go back. This was quite demoralising and nobody from our team was ready to accept this situation. It was not only a matter of retreat but behind this programme there was a long phase of preparation and planning. Then, there was the struggle for the sponsorship for this trek, which is as usual the most tough part of the programme, availability of the members was a big problem as at the same time it seemed that all of us not spare ourselves due to various engagements. At this stage a special emergent meeting was held in which, baby of the team, Abdul Hayee said that he will obey any decision made by his seniors. As mentioned earlier. This was his first proper trek. His previous experience was of Deo-Sai plains, and easy hike on flat table land. We did not know how he will perform but keeping in mind his determination in rock climbing and remarkable performance in other healthy sports, like swimming, rowing etc. his selection was made for this great trek. His selection proved correct, as he was performing excellent, so far, Razi Sahib as always decided rather ordered that there is no point of retreat and the team will start moving as well, as the weather improves.

Our porters were not happy with this decision but again Razi Sahib tackled the matter and after a long discussion with porters, he persuaded them to proceed onwards with us.

After this decision, nature also decided to help us. After about two hours the weather turned better and an immediate move order was announced. The trek was tough and due to sudden gain in height, everybody was feeling tired and was worried whether we will succeed in reaching the pass or not. We were out of breath and tired. Everyone was anxious to complete this trek and the lure of achieving the final height of the trek was there because it was a sort of our test of determination and stamina Razi Sabhi, as usual, once after getting his rhythm, was walking at his own pace, slowly but steadily. Abdul Hayee was looking quite fit, in better shape and was enthusiastic to reach the pass ahead of the team.

It took three hours to reach the highest point, 5650 meters, of Ghondoghoro La. On this point we embraced our porters which were shouting and whistling with joy. They had already thrown the sacks down from their backs and were lighting cigarettes. On this success with tears in eyes, hearts filled with joy and sigh of relief, we congratulated one another and dropped our selves on the flat ground of the pass. It was dream came true and the fruit of a long struggle of preparations and laborious walking on highlands carrying a heavy pack of our equipment on our backs.

After taking rest for a few moments everybody started to take out their cameras. Since the morning weather was still not good, but, on our arrival, we got another lucky chance, that for a short while the sky became clear and we had an opportunity to have few photographs and to view the panorama all around us.

Behind us was the zigzag view of the Ghondoghoro Glacier, flowing down in Hushe vallye, on which we were walking in revious days and finally now we had completed this stretch onwards was Vigne glacier. Ahead was the superb view of the highest peaks of the Karakorams with some of the wold's longest glaciers. Apart from many important peaks like Masherbrum and Gasherbrum IV, broad peak, Gasherbrum I, Gasherbrum II, were also clearly visible and the whole view was dominated by the king of the mountains, the mighty K-2.

At Lahore, one of our friends, Mr. Tayyab Syed, a big name in Pakistan tourism industry, had told us that he was going to do this treak almost on the same dates, but he was starting from Shigar valley so there was a possibility that we shall meet somewhere on the trek. But while staying in Skardu, we were told by someone, that his trip had been postponed for the next month.

Ghondoghoro pass to Ali camp

When our team was packing up after a short stay on the pass, a team appeared, approaching from concordia side with a man with a rough beared called Razi Sahib. Not recognising us on the first sight as he came closer Razi Sahib shouted in response. This was Tayyab, escorting an American team of trekkers. He told that his team had changed the programme but at the last moment again decided to start on the trek as per their previous schedule. No one could imagine that this place, the Ghondoghoro La, could be a rendezvous. Far from the home, in the rugged mountains, totally exhausted and worn out, meeting a friend here was an unforgettable moment. We met each other but there wasn't any time to even offer a cup of tea. Both the teams were trying to reach at their camps in better whether, in good light.

With heavy hearts we departed and started towards our destinations. On this side the descent was quite steep and there were many crevasses to be crossed. Since our team was equipped with all necessary items, so we were not much worried and to encounter this portion, everybody was roped up to walk safely.

Walking down further, for about two hours, we started to walk on the lateral moraine and finally reached the campsite which was a small rocky platform along the face of the cliff.

From pass to Ali camp, the walk was on and along the vigne glacier. This campsite was the same as mentioned in the start that this place was named after Mr. Ali.

At the end of the Vigne Glacier, we made a traverse on Baltoro glacier. As glaciers are usually churned up on their terminal points, so this potion was quite rough and dangerous to be crossed, but it was tackled successfully. After turning from the black rocks of mitre peak, we got the sight of concordia campsite. On arrival at concordia we pitched our tents and relaxed for the rest of the day.

Porters were paid off as they were planning to return the next morning. We had already planned to move ahead without guide or porters because for the next 6 to 7 days we had to descend and the only weight of our food stuff had reduced having being consumed in previous days.

The night was cold but everybody had a sound sleep as our main goal had been achieved. Although our plan was to attempt Biafo/hispar trek in the same attempt but the most important and the highest portion of the trek was completed successfully!

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