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altitude in the Karakorum

PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2007 2:32 pm
by CBakwin
Here's a rather general question- I am toying with a trip Idea to climb some 7000m peaks by Kashgar and over in Kergyzstan. I thought I might spend two weeks in the Karakorum getting acclimated to altitude. I can go directly to about 14,000 but would want to fairly rapidly work up to sleeping at 16,500 and climbing maybe to 20,000 by the end of the two weeks. Also, tho complicate issues, I am looking for the cushiest accomadations (like maybe a bed and hot shower?? good food prepared...) available at resonable cost and pretty easy terrain. A few years ago, I acclimated at Potosi , Bolivia (13,400') then in the high antiplano (16,000') and was able to climb to 20K and this worked great! Bed most every night. Anything like this in the Karakorum? Perhaps I could go on a guided trek? Just thought I'd bounce this off in case any of you have any immediate thoughts, thanks.

PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2007 8:27 pm
by BigLee
"Cushiest accomodation"... Hmmm... Generally not in Pakistan. I've always found the cheap (CHEAP) traveller places to be the best and the midrange places always full of noisy down country Punjabis. Were you looking to acclimatise with a climb or just trek in the Karakoram? I acclimatised on Yazghil Sar (I've put up an SP page) which was perfect for the job and easy to get to. Accomodation in Shimshal won't fit your bill though as the shower rarely worked although the rooms are nice and the owner extremely helpful. Trekking-wise Rush Peak is an excellent choice. It's around 5000m and can be done in about a four day roundtrip from. Views are spectacular. The Patundas above Passu would be another good bet also with amazing views. It's at 4100m but I think you can continue west and increase in height to around 5000m. Both these trekking options could be done together in two weeks. If you want to be guided then hook up with a Pakistan tour agency but my advise is to just get yourself a local porter who'll certainly know the way. With 14 days you're best sticking relatively close to the KKH.

PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2007 1:08 am
by Damien Gildea
I'm sure some people would think your question ridiculous but it's actually a good idea, as you know, and I've been wondering myself how to do it in Pakistan. I'm going to G1 so will hopefully just acclimatise on the walk-in. Old School !

Good that Big ruled out Shimshal, as that was an option (no shower !!), but I've never been there. Karimabad is at 2600m or so and you could do a daily hike up to >4000m very easily, up the Ultar gorge to the shepherd's huts. But it would be best to sleep higher.

Zhud Kun in the Chapursan Valley is around 3200m, if I remember correctly, and is reached by a good jeep road, but has no showers. Alam Jan has a guesthouse there, with meals prepared etc, but it is not luxurious. You could fairly easily hike up to nearly 5000m in a long day.


PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2007 2:31 pm
by BigLee
Sorry, just noticed I never finished one of my sentences. Rush Peak can be done in a 4 day round trip from Hoper which itself is easy to get to from Karimabad or Aliabad via Nagar.

As far as Ultar Meadow goes, you can continue up to Hom Pass which is around 4100m. You could do it in an intense one day outing or spend a night at Ultar Meadow which is around 3000m. The broad panoramic views of the Hunza valley on my Rakaposhi page were taken from from this pass. The path to Ultar is in pretty poor state.

PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2007 2:38 pm
by CBakwin
Thanks Lee, Yes I've been to Pakistan and know exactly what you mean. I only would like a bed and a hot shower but if only a bed is available then that is fine and if neither is available so be it. I was hoping to SLEEP at 5000m the second week and climb to 20K, which is close to 6000m I think. Any place where I can do this, Rush sounds great for the first week. I want to climb for acclimation, but not wear myself out or go with marginal food for that period as I should actually be taking it a bit easy in prep for harder climbs after the two weeks.
Thanks for the recommendation to just hire a porter, that is much more to my taste, in what town for Rush? Would I be able to base out of a town and climb several 5000m in the first week? I will be climbing to 4000m several times in the few weeks before I go so like I said, I will be able to sleep at 13,000' - 14,000' (4000m+) right off. Staying close to KKH is also good advice as I will be traveling on up to Kashgar when acclimated.
Actually, my understanding is that true acclimation takes three weeks, but I am trying to get a good feel for what I can do in the shortest time possible. In the past I have taken three weeks and that has worked well, but perhaps I can do it in two?? If not I would do the last bit on the first 7000m peak.

PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2007 2:53 pm
by CBakwin
I think our responses past each other, sorry for confusion, "cushiest accomadations" was a bit tongue in cheek, I actually only meant a bed, shower and food cooked and sanitarily (at least a bit) prepared. On a mountaineering trip, this, to me, qualifies as "cushy". Sorry for the confusion. I see right off I need a better map of the area. Thanks Damien as well. By the way, I LIVE at almost 2000m so any climbs or towns at that altitude would not help. I gather there are no "towns" in the Karakorum over 4000m?

PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2007 6:41 pm
by BigLee
No, there's no town's around 4000m in the Karakoram unfortunately. Sost is the highest town but still only about 3200m and I wouldn't hang around there as it's a dump.

Actually, I have to stick up for Shimshal accomodation after putting it down. The guesthouse there has nice rooms, a great communal lounge and good food. The water that flows from the Adver Valley above Shimshal is very silty and locals have had to limit water flow into the village to stop crops being damaged. Consequently there's never enough water for the shower to work. Washing was often via a large bucket of water. I've really enjoyed Shimshal the two times I was there.

Rush Peak is accessed via a tiny village called Hoper, which is up the hill from a larger village called Nagar. Nagar can be reached from Aliabad or Karimabad. Hoper to the Karakoram highway is about 1 hour's travel so it's not hard to get to. There's a peak just under 6000m in the area which isn't too difficult to climb although you would have to retrace your steps back to Hoper. It's called Shaltar Peak and is 5982m. It's marked on the Swiss map which I recommend you buy. I've a friend who climbed it if you're need more info.

PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2007 2:15 pm
by CBakwin
Thanks, either place, and possibly both sound like they would fill the bill. Do you have a source for the swiss map? Thanks for your responses.

PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2007 11:32 pm
by Damien Gildea
It's a two-part map, they come as a set, published by the Swiss Foundation for Alpine Research. Cost around USD$40+pp.

Stanfords in London had a set in the store a month ago.