Karakoram! Shimshal. I think I should follow those two images of Aziz Urla's trail through the Pair-i-Tang with this. Here he is with his family at Shuwert in September 1989 just before we set off back to Shimshal. I am forever indebted to these folk for welcoming me and my friends into their homes, and for taking us on some of the most stupendous journeys imaginable. Salaam aliekum and bohot shukria!! Bronica ETRS, 75mm, Fuji Velvia
Karakoram! Shimshal. Following on from that last post, here is a shot that shows even more how dramatic and crazy is Aziz Urla's trail through the Pair-i-Tang. In this shot Aziz is leading our two porters along one of the trickiest sections. The exposure is just insane! Check out the trail across the cliffs beyond. In many places pieces of juniper had been wedged and propped into the cliff to afford passage. Just crossing it was challenging enough, let alone with a blue barrel on your back and rubber boots on your feet, but imagine going up there and building such a path!! The Shimshal people are made of serious stuff!! Respect!
Karakoram! There really is no place on earth like the Karakoram. Not only are the mountains outrageous and the people living amongst them wonderful, but travelling these wild and remote valleys is a mind-boggling challenge in its own right. In September 1989 Mungo Hulm and I were at Shuwert, the summer settlement on the Shimshal Pass, when Aziz Urla enquired if we would like to see his high altitude winter Ibex hunting trail on our way back to Shimshal instead of following the route we had used to get up there. Of course we said yes. This rarely used route traverses some wildly improbable terrain on the south side of the Pamir-i-Tang. All was going splendidly, until Mungo and I stopped for a smoke at a particularly stunning viewpoint. Aziz then reappeared from ahead and spoke the following euphemistic phrase; "now is a little difficult..." This was the section that followed. Check out the route beyond. Beneath this incredibly thin trail across near vertical cliffs was a drop of well over a thousand metres to the river below... Not a place I'd want to take clients on a commercial trek!
This image made the front cover of the Geographical Magazine.
Karakoram. Mungo Hulm on our way into Shimshal from Passu at the start of our 1989 trip. Inclement weather for the first couple of days. One forgets just how impressive and desolate these Karakoram valleys are, and how spectacular is the geology of the region. Several thousand feet above the valley floor you can clearly see the eroded sediment remains of ancient river terraces, showing the fearsome power of these rivers to tear away at the rock, gauging the defile ever deeper. Awesome really.
After seeing Sikander Sawari's pictures of his recent trip to Chapchingal / Shimshal etc, I spent a morning looking through some of my slides of our trips there. I had completely forgotten the epic that Mungo Hulm, two Shimshal porters and I had on our first attempt to cross the Chapchingal in 1989. After glorious weather the whole way from Passu - Shimshal - Shuwert - Shimshal - Zardgar Bin - Boesam Pir - Mandikushlak, it snowed on us the night before we planned to cross the Chapchingal. Being tired and very low on fuel / food, we bailed and walked out down the Ghujerab valley to the KKH. This was far from straightforward! Here is Mungo, contemplating getting wet yet again in the snow. We made countless river crossings that day. My camera was wet, hence the soft-focus. Posting this picture to show that expedition trekking in the Karakoram is not all beer and skittles, to quote HW Tilman!
Sikander Sarwari has just completed a fantastic trek north of Shimshal in the Karakoram, Pakistan. He followed the footsteps of the Visser-Hooft expedition of 1925 through this seldom visited region. Today most of it lies within the Khunjerab National Park and it is fabulous. Mungo Hulm and I did a very similar route in September 1989. Here is a picture I took from the summit of the Chaphingal Pass on that trek. The following year I took a small (6 people) group of clients the same way for Karakoram Experience - to my knowledge the only time a commercial trek has travelled in the area.
I think that is K2 and Broad Peak on the far horizon!? Nikon FM2, 28mm, Kodachrome