From Askole on, you can only continue by foot, there are no more roads. So you have to go up the Baltoro glacier for about 60 km to get to Concordia and then turn left to go to Broad Peak basecamp via the Godwin-Austen glacier. Also, Askole is the last village on the way, from here, you will meet only other climbers and trekkers and occasionally you will see a military post.
Usually, there are four camps used on the way to basecamp: Joula, Paiju, Urdokas, Goro II. Some people camp in addition on Concordia. So you advance each day one camp further up, and most people will do a rest day at one of the camps, e.g. Paiju. Not for Max and me of course 😉. But more on this later.
Hike from Askole to Jhoula Camp
The hike from Askole to Joula is overall nice and easy. Distance is about 20 km, altitude gain about 300m. The only annoying thing is that in the end you have to make a big detour to the left / north via a valley, you even pass the camp, then you cross the valley and have to hike back one km to the camp. And next morning you have to hike back two km to the Baltoro glacier. Landscape wise the hike is nothing special for my taste as there not yet bigger mountains around and the hike is rather dusty and mostly in rock fields.
Hike from Jhoula to Paiju
The hike from Joula to Paiju has a similar character as the first hike. You hike through a bit moonlike landscape with mostly rocks and dust, along the river, and the mountains are not yet impressive. But again, it is a an easy and nice hike with about 20 km distance and 300 m altitude gain. Many teams do a rest day at Paiju.
Hike from Paiju to Urdokas
Now things are getting interesting. The mountains around are getting bigger and more impressive! The hike itself feels a bit lengthy as there is a lot of up and down, thus making you do a lot of ascent for little net altitude gain. There is one river crossing where you either take off the shoes and walk with bare feet through the water, or you walk up senselessly 20 minutes up the river to find a crossing and waste a lot of time, like a certain Eduard from Germany did, but I would never do such a silly waste of time 😉!
Before and upon arrival at Urdokas you get a great view at the famous Trango towers. They offer magnificent and difficult climbing at a still moderate altitude of up to 6200m, so you do not have to do an eternal acclimatization. To the right you can see the great Main Cathedral. Maybe in the next few years…
Fun fact: We had sent one of the porters ahead to reserve tent space at Urdokas because it is a rather small camp site and there were a lot of people expected for the night. So he arrived first at Urdokas, then Max and me arrived as first of all teams. Wonderful tent space reserved, so I thought…in the end it somehow happened that other teams occupied our tent spaces while we were sleeping a bit on the sunny rocks and while our tents had not arrived yet, so we ended up in the evening with the worst tent spaces in a mud pit ☹😉. Well, lesson learned for next time…
Hike from Urdokas Camp to Broad Peak Basecamp, or: the most annoying hike of my life 😉
As mentioned, most teams do a rest day at Paiju or latest at Urdokas. And they do another camp at Goro II further up, some teams do even one more camp at Concordia before arriving at basecamp. Of course, not for Max and me 😉. We wanted to be at basecamp as quickly as possible. We looked at the map and with our expert finger measuring decided that skipping Goro II camp and going directly from Urdokas to Basecamp does not look that far and we should be at Basecamp early afternoon. So we started at 5am, did even catch a good path through the glacier chaos to the main path on the glacier moraine. After only four hours we arrived at Goro II and felt very content with ourselves as within another four hours we should be at Basecamp.
Haha. Now the fun started … or to be honest, the most annoying hike of my life followed 😉.
First, instead of going straight to Concordia we chose a route on the left which was supposed to avoid the snow masses at Concordia and provide a little short cut by leaving Concordia on the right. Well, as it turned out this left path was mostly ultra annoying rocky and blocky glacier terrain with a lot of up and down, meandering around instead of going a roughly straight line, and often being blocked by porters and mulis going slowly on the narrow path. Then, when finally reaching the Godwin-Austen glacier for the left turn, the path was totally unclear and both Max and I (Max had gone a little bit ahead) went too far to the left. While doing this, we both managed to break through some frozen rivers to the knees and get totally wet shoes and feet. I continued endlessly on a rocky ridge, seeing the camp in the distance but it did not seem to get closer. After a long while I had enough of this stupid rocky ridge and I crawled through deep snow to the right to some glacier ridge which actually was quite ok, except for breaking through to the hips every fifth step.
Finally, I arrived at a crossing path which I believed to lead to the camp which I could actually see now quite closely. But after more crawling and slipping I found out that this path was in fact passing the camp on the left and obviously going straight to K2 basecamp instead. So, after I had even passed Broad Peak basecamp and it was already in my back I had enough and I simply crossed to the right directly through the glacier terrain, up and down and up and down, and always when I thought “now I am at basecamp” another stupid glacier wall turned up 😉. Max had continued even further almost to K2 basecamp before turning back, so in the end we arrived at pretty much the same time at basecamp. Talk about professionals 😉.
In numbers, we had hiked this day 33,07 km in 13:30 hours, done 1456m ascent and 733m descent for a meagre net altitude gain of 723m ☹😉.
But all of this is forgotten or rather you laugh about it once you sit in the team tent and get a nice dinner 😊.
After five rest days at Broad Peak Basecamp I will start on Tuesday 2 July 2019 up Broad Peak for some acclimatization. I would like to get to 7000m or 7500m. Let’s see how that works! Next update probably on Thursday 4 July 2019 then.