Snow Lake and the Hispar La
- An adventurous traverse from Baltistan into Hunza
- The astonishing Snow Lake
- Camp on the Hispar La
- Karimabad and the Hunza Valley
- Walking through Shipton's 'Blank on the Map'
The interconnected Biafo and Hispar glaciers, with a combined length of 120 kilometres, provide an unlikely natural highway that cuts through the heart of the Karakoram Range. Starting out from Askole on the approach to the Baltoro and K2, this long and relatively committing glacial traverse is undertaken annually by just a handful of expeditions. This trekking holiday does just that in a 3 week experience for budding explorers. Walking either on the glaciers themselves, or through flower-carpeted ablation valleys, we encounter challenging as well as more straightforward trekking conditions. A highlight of the trip is the camp on the Hispar La (5151m), where we can watch the afternoon shadow creeping across Snow Lake to the mighty Ogre (7285m) and turn to see the sun setting over the mountains of Hunza and the distant Hindu Kush to the west. Stunning scenery and a genuine sense of adventure in a high mountain wilderness are key attractions of this magnificent trekking holiday inh the karakoram.
Is this holiday for you?
This is a long and sustained trek. During the ascent of the Biafo the trek mostly follows the centre of the glacier, at first walking on moraine rubble and then finding, after two days, the much easier underfoot conditions of bare ice. Crampons are not required at this stage as the ice is cranelated and grit-filled and actually provides an excellent walking surface. The central part of the trip, as we approach and cross Snow Lake and the Hispar La, will be on snow and here we will don our crampons and rope-up to safeguard our passage between concealed crevasses. The descent of the Hispar is mostly done off-glacier in the green, sometimes flower strewn ablation valley, though it is necessary on each of the 4 days of descent, to cross a side glacier with varying degrees of difficulty. Again, crampons are not needed for these crossings but some scrambling may be required to cross the lateral moraines. You should only consider this trek if you have some previous trekking experience in the mountains, preferably at altitudes over 4000 metres.