Gondoro (Ghondogoro) Peak (5,650m), situated in the Ghondogoro Valley, presents a good challenge for the accomplished trekker or hill walker seeking a first Himalayan Summit. It is located in the heart of the Karakoram and offers an ascent with little in the way of technical difficulty or objective danger.
From a base in Hushe, a pleasent village surrounded by green, terraced fields with spectacular views of Masherbrum, the usual approach involves an acclimatisation trek up the Masherbrum valley to Brumbrammah (4,050m), below Masherbrum (7,821m) base camp at 4400m. Typically, teams spend 2 nights at Brumbrammah, including a trek up to Masherbrum BC, before returning to Hushe.
The next leg of the trip involves ascending the Ghondogoro Valley. One night will be spent camping at Saitcho, a beautiful spot at the junction of the Gondogoro and Charakusa Valleys. A small shop here sells food and supplies to passing trekkers, and there is a makeshift volleyball court for downtime.
Next, you trek to Dalsiang Pa; about halfway long this trek you encounter 'Bomb Alley', the gully at the edge of the Ghondogoro glacier, where large rocks frequently fall from the slopes to the East. There is a small lake here, where you will camp for 1 night, directly opposite the vast and chaotic ice fall which tumbles down from the Masherbrum La (Pass).
Next day, you will trek along the upper ridges of the Gondogoro glacier to the Gondoro Peak base camp. During the trek, you get close-up, spectacular views of many incredibly beautiful 6000m+ peaks, with easily the most striking being the spear-shaped Laila Peak (6,096m). No previous mountaineering experience is required to climb Gondoro Peak, but the ascent is quite strenuous due to the altitude.
It's normal to set off at 1 am to arrive on the summit at sunrise. The climb itself can be considred in 3 parts: 1. A short low-grade scramble up to the edge of the snowfield and the glacier. 2. Traverse and climbthe glacier to the top of a ridge 3. Steeper climb up snow slopes to the summit. Ropes are used for only the last 100 Meter of the climb (3 pitches). The group will normally be well on its way to the summit by the time the sun catches the summit of Masharbrum. Descent is by the same route and you can expect to be back in camp by lunchtime.
The panorama from Gondoro Peak is quite spectacular. Masherbrum (K1) Chogolisa, Hidden peak (GI/K5), Trinity peak, Laila Peak and the Ghondogoro glacier stretching down the valley. It is even possible to see distant views of the summit of K2.
From Islamabad, there are 2 options to reach Hushse
1. By air
A scenic 1-hour flight, during which it's possible to catch a glimpse of Nanga Parbat (the 9th highest mountain in the world) and K2 (the 2nd highest mountain in the world). Pakistan International Airways is the only airline that flies to this main town of Baltistan. It is common for flights on this route to be delayed or cancelled. In June 2012, no flights flew for 11 consecutive days.
2. By road
Skardu can be reached by bus from Islamabad. The drive takes you along the fabled, and scenic, Karakoram Highway (KKH). Since the KKH is under constant repair, the road can take up to 36 hours by public transport.
The Foreign & Commonwealth Office currently advise against travelling on the KKH between Islamabad and Sakrdu. www.fco.gov.uk/en/travel-and-living-abroad/travel-advice-by-country/asia-oceania/pakistan
If you do decide to travel by bus, you will have a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
From Skardu, it is possible to hire 4x4 vehicle to travel onwards to Hushe, usually with a lunch stop at Khaplu. The road from Skardu to Hushe is frequently hit by landslides.
Nationals of many countries will need to obtain a visa to visit Pakistan. From personal experience, this can be a frustrating experience and you may have to visit your local Pakistani Embassy or High Commission in person. You should obtain a Letter of Invitation from someone in Pakistan (normally your local trekking agent). You will need to spend some time in Islamabad at the start of your trek to obtain your trekking permit. It is more efficient join a group as part of an organised trek, or pay a local agent to complete this process for you.
Safety and Security - Local Travel - Gilgit-Baltistan (Formerly known as Northern Areas)
There have been sporadic outbursts of sectarian violence in Gilgit.
All foreign nationals are required to register when visiting Gilgit-Baltistan. This can be arranged by your travel agent. A permit from the Pakistan Ministry of Tourism is often needed for mountaineering or trekking, in particular for mountains over 6000 metres.
When to Climb
May to Septmeber
Baltistan Tours: http://www.baltistantours.com/tour/adventure/trekking/Gondogoro_Peak.html