You’ve all heard of the famous Khunjerab Pass which connects Pakistan with its northern neighbour China via the famed Karkoram Highway. But there are many other equally magnificent – if not more – mountain passes within Pakistan’s borders.
1. The Mintaka Pass – at over 4,700 metres above sea level, this famed high mountain pass in the Karakorams just west of Khunjerab was used by travellers on the ancient Silk Route. In this picture, the pillar marks the border between China and Pakistan.
2. Gondogoro La (Pass) – at an astonishing 5,940 metres, this is one of the highest passes in the world connecting the Concordia region with Hushe Valley in Gilgit-Baltistan. From its top one can see K2 and 3 other mountains that are above 8,000 metres. The picture shows top of Gondogoro La looking south towards Hushe Valley.
3. The Dadarili Pass – 5,030 metres – this high mountain pass connects Upper Swat with the Ghizer Valley in Gilgit-Baltistan. With Swat cleared of militants, the pass can be used for a – somewhat strenuous – trek into Gilgit-Baltistan. The picture here is from the top of the pass looking towards the Ghizer side.
4. Chillinji La (Pass) – Over 5,300 metres high, this pass connects the Karamber River valley in Ishkoman with the Chapursan River valley in Upper Hunza.
PHOTO: MUHAMMAD AHSAN
5. The Burzil Pass – 4,100 metres – situated in Astore district in Gilgit-Baltistan, just west of the Deosai National Park. This is a motorable pass – jeeps can reach the top – but since it is close to the Line of Control (it used to connect Gilgit with Srinagar), it is currently closed.
6. The Shimshal Pass – at 4,735 metres it leads to the Shimshal Braldu River valley. Shimshal Braldu River is a tributary of the Shaksgam river which straddles the Pakistan-China border. This area is used by mountaineers approaching the north face of K2. The picture shows a stream running through the top of the pass.
PHOTO: OMAR JAVAID
7. The Karambar Pass – At 4,300 metres, this pass in the Hindukush connects the Yarkhun River valley in Upper Chitral with Karambar River Valley in Ishkoman in Ghizer district. It is also known for its famed Karambar lake, seen in the picture.
8. The Boroghil Pass – at 3,800 metres, its relatively lower than the mountain passes found in the Karakoram. This mountain pass connects Pakistan’s Chitral District with Afghanistan’s Badaskhan province, which is in the legendary Wakhan corridor.
9. The Kachikani Pass – at over 4,700 metres, this mountain pass connects Pakistan’s picturesque Swat Valley with Chitral Valley to its west – this picture is from the top of the pass looking east towards Swat.
PHOTO: IFTIKHAR ALVI