In the snowy peaks of Karakoram, a diverse team of trekkers have made a remarkable feat. On July 14, the 46-member team became the largest group of Pakistani trekkers to have scaled the 5,940-metre Gondogoro Pass in recent history.
The group set out from Skardu on July 1 and trekked all the way to Concordia, making various stops along the 140km journey. The team reached the K2 basecamp on July 7, where it spent the night and took off to scale the Gondogoro Pass, which is dubbed as the highest mountain pass of the world. They safely returned to Skardu on July 14.
The group constituted 27 expedition team members, five crew members and 14 porters, but what made it diverse was the age of the members. Among them were 65-year-old Abdul Qadir, 20-year-old Rabia Shahid, and the youngest, 18-year-old Hassan. An experienced mountaineer, Umar Javed, was also part of the expedition.
“This was the largest team of Pakistani mountaineers to have reached the K2 base camp and scaled the Gondogoro Pass,” Sakhi Hassan, the expedition’s organiser, told The Express Tribune. He said that usually teams of around four to seven experienced and physically-fit members set out to scale the pass, “which is why planning, organising and executing the expedition was a gigantic task”.
Hassan, who is an experienced mountaineer and also runs a mountaineering school in Skardu, said that he rounded up everyone and communicated details of the expedition to all the members through Facebook.
Talking about the expedition, he said the aged and weaker members were kept in the front rows, while experienced member were kept at the back, guiding and helping them along the way.
“Hats off to the trainers and organisers who made the impossible possible,” Qadir, the eldest among the group, commented after returning. “The two-week journey through the rough and tough mountains will be memorable,” added Javed, an avid trekker.
According to locals, Gondogoro Pass is attractive among mountaineers and trekkers and more than 80% of those who visit the region every year come to Skardu only to cross this pass. Locally known as “Gondogoro La (meaning pass)”, it is the highest mountain pass on the Gondogoro Glacier and provides scenic views of all the prominent peaks of the Karakoram Range, including K-2.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 24th, 2012.