Hachindar Chhish is located between the Baltar and Muchuhar valleys in the Batura Muztagh, a sub-range of the Karakoram. It is a little known but impressive peak, and appears to be steep and difficult from all sides.
The First Canadian Himalayan Expedition approached the mountain up the Muchuhar Valley in 1964. They were deterred from attempting the mountain by technical difficulty and tried nearby Sangemarmar instead. In 1978 an attempt on the Southwest Ridge from the Baltar Glacier by a Japanese expedition also failed and one climber fell to his death.
In 1982 a Japanese expedition made the first and only ascent of the mountain, climbing the Southeast Face from the Muchuhar Glacier. Yasuyuki Higashi, Kenji Yoshida, Toshikazu Saito, Kensaku Sakai, Tatsuya Takinami and Kenichi Kimura reached the summit. It was another significant first ascent in the Karakoram for the Japanese and a typically determined effort.
I have not climbed, or attempted, Hachindar Chhish myself. However, I do feel that Hachindar Chhish is a significant peak that deserves a page on Summitpost.
Getting ThereThe nearest international airport is Islamabad. PIA flies daily from Islamabad to Gilgit, the biggest town in the Northern Areas. The flights are sometimes cancelled at short notice due to bad weather.
Gilgit can also be reached by bus along the Karakoram Highway from Pir Wadhai bus station in Rawalpindi. Buses leave in the afternoon and arrive around mid morning the next day, but can be delayed if the road is washed out or blocked by landslides.
The Karakoram Highway was damaged in the floods of 2010 but as of September 2010 people were travelling between Islamabad and Gilgit on the highway. See www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree for a travel forum and the latest on travel on the Karakoram Highway.
From Gilgit get a Hiace van up the Karakoram Highway to Aliabad (3 hours drive) in the Hunza Valley. Aliabad is the closest village to the start of the trek up the Muchuhar Valley to Base Camp. Otherwise, get a Hiace van to nearby Karimabad which is a pleasant place to stay.
The Karakoram Highway continues north of Karimabad up the Hunza Valley to Passu and over the Kunjerab Pass to Kashgar in the Xingjiang Province of China. However, since the Hunza landslide of 4th January 2010 (see below) a newly formed lake makes travel to upper Hunza and China difficult, although a boat can be taken across the lake.
Trekking to Base Camp
Porters can be hired in Aliabad. Pay will be per stage. On trekking routes there are established stages representing a day's walk, although sometimes more than one stage is walked in a day. Stages tend to be based on the best places to camp. Rates per stage are governed by the Ministry of Tourism, but will vary according to local conditions.
The trek up the Muchuhar Valley starts at Hassanabad, a few kilometers from Aliabad. There is a good track as far as the snout of the Hassanabad Glacier. Climb onto the glacier and cross to the west side. Follow the edge of the glacier, then an intermittent trail on the rubble-strewn glacier itself which becomes the Muchuhar Glacier. Climb steeply up to Base Camp at 3750m in an ablation valley below the Southeast Face of Hacindar Chhish.
Hunza LandslideOn 4th January 2010 a huge landslide swept away the village of Attabad, about 10km upstream of Karimabad. Although the landslide had been predicted since a fissure appeared in the hillside above Attabad, at least 13 people lost their lives. The resulting dam blocked the flow of the Gilgit River forming a lake. The level of the lake crept up until 29th May when the water began to overflow into a spillway which had been created. By now the lake was 18km long and many homes and fields had been inundated. Meanwhile many people had been evacuated downstream. See www.daveslandslideblog.blogspot.com for the latest on the situation.
Red TapeA visa is required and must be obtained prior to arrival. A single entry tourist visa is valid for three months from arrival. It is possible to extend visas in Islamabad.
Now is a very good time to climb in Pakistan in terms of peak fees which have been considerably reduced in recent years. Peaks up to 6500m require no permit (previously 6000m). Peak fees in the Baltoro region have been reduced to 50%. In an effort to encourage people to climb outside the Baltoro region, peak fees in the Gigit region (i.e. Hachindar Chhish) have been reduced to 10%.
The previous fee for peaks between 7001m and 7500m (i.e. Hachindar Chhish) was $2500 for a party of up to seven people with an additional royalty of $400 dollars for each person above seven.
Now, in 2010, the fee for Hachindar Chhish is a very reasonable $250 for up to seven people, and $40 for each additional person.
Also in the Gilgit region a liaison officer is no longer required. An agent is still required (for expeditions requiring a permit) and the guide they provide can fulfill the role of the liaison officer.
Procedures as organized by your agent will involve a briefing at the Ministry of Tourism in Islamabad before and after the expedition. Not all expedition members are required to attend the briefings, so it is possible to remain in the mountains after the expedition has ended. Usually a returnable helicopter bond must be deposited before the expedition.
For expeditions to peaks below 6500m you can do it all yourself. Just turn up at the last village and start haggling over porters!
Good agents I have used are:
1. Adventure Tours Pakistan
2. Himalaya Trek and Tours
Base Camp is in a pleasant, wooded ablation valley with good water. There might be cattle here and food needs to be well protected when you’re away from camp.
Kerosene is available in Gilgit and other towns but it is not very clean so be prepared to clean your stove. White gas is not available. Gas canisters left by previous expeditions are available in Gilgit. Canisters are said to be refilled, but they have always worked for me. Otherwise canisters will need to be freighted from abroad or bought from your agent.
A good selection of food is available in Islamabad, Gilgit or Karimabad. The only food you might consider bringing with you is special mountain food.
This can be cheap in Pakistan. In Gilgit the Madina Guesthouse is recommended. Karimabad is a good place to relax after climbing. The cheap guesthouses around Zero Point are a good place to stay. I like the Haider Inn.
Japanese Route Southeast Face
Base Camp was established at 3750m feet above the Muchuhar Glacier. A couloir exposed to rock fall and avalanches led to Advance Base Camp at 4860m. Camp 1 was established at 5470m below the steep upper wall. The 900 meter wall was climbed to a forepeak with some aid pitches. From Camp 5 at 6900m a knife-edge ridge led to the summit. A fair amount of fixed ropes were used, but no high altitude porters.
When to Climb
The climbing season is from June to mid September. The monsoon from the Bay of Bengal moves westward and reaches Pakistan in late June through to September. The Karakoram is in the Himalayan rain shadow which limits the effect of the monsoon. However when the monsoon breaks down country it’s usually stormy in the mountains. The weather can change very quickly with snow fall higher up or heavy rain at lower altitudes. Climbing in the Karakoram requires considerable patience. There can be extended spells of good weather; the difficulty thing is predicting when they will be.
Batura Mustagh Orographical Sketch Map 1:100,000 by Jerzy Wala.
An excellent and accurate map which also includes topo-diagrams of some routes on the higher peaks.
Swiss Foundation for Alpine Research Karakoram 1:250,000 Orographical Sketch Map. Sheet 1 shows Batura.
Popular and useful maps which are generally accurate.
Chronik der Erschließung des Karakorum by Wolfgang Heichel. Teil I – Western Karakorum. Wissenschaftliche Alpenvereinshefte, Heft 36. Gemeinsam herausgeben vom Deutschen und vom Österreichischen Alpenverein. München 2003.
This is the first volume of what is intended to be an exhaustive chronicle of the climbing history of the Karakoram range. It contains stacks of useful information and excellent maps by Jerzy Wala. Volume I covers the mountains west of the Hunza River including the Batura Muztagh. Volume II is intended to cover the Rakaposhi Range and Volume III the Hispar Range. Only available in German.
Karakoram: Mountains of Pakistan by Shiro Shirahata (1998) ISBN: 093856725X
Stunning photos including Hachindar Chhish.
High Asia: An Illustrated History of the 7,000m Peaks by Jill Neate (1989) ISBN: 0898862388
Useful reference book.
www.climbmagazine.com for Mountain Info, probably the best and most comprehensive record of world mountaineering.
www.americanalpineclub.org for online American Alpine Journal expedition reports. There is an account of the Japanese Hachindar Chhish expedition in Issue 43.
www.alpineclub.org.uk for the Himalayan Index, a useful starting point to determine what has been climbed on peaks 6000m and above.
http://blankonthemap.free.fr/default.htm is a website in French and English devoted to the mountains of Northern Kashmir i.e. the Karakoram, Nanga Parbat, Hindu Kush and Hindu Raj.