Skardu BaltistanTravel and Tourism

Gilgit-Baltistan: The Paradise of Mountaineers

Gilgit-Baltistan: The Paradise of Mountaineers is proud to have the second-highest K-2 Mountain in the world (28,250 ft). It challenged all attempts at its conquest but was eventually brought to its knee by the Italian Team on 31-7-1954. On 31 July 1954, the Italian Karakoram expedition finally succeeded in climbing to the K2 summit via the Abruzzi Spur.

Ardito Desio led the expedition, and Lino Lacedelli and Achille Compagnoni were the two climbers who had reached the summit. The team included a participant of Pakistan, Colonel Muhammad Ata-Allah, who was a part of the American expedition in 1953. Walter Bonatti and Pakistani Hunza porter Amir Mehdi were also on the expedition, both of whom proved vital to the success of the expedition in carrying oxygen tanks up to 8,100 meters (26,600 ft) for Lacedelli and Compagnoni.

Baltistan is truly a paradise for mountaineers, as it has more than 20 peaks of more than 20,000 feet. Other well-known peaks in Khaplu Valley are Masherbrum popularly known as K-1, Wide Peak, Hidden Peak, Gasherbrum II, Gasherbrum IV and Chogolisa.

List of some conquered peaks by various expeditions: The full list of those scaled mountains will be uploaded soon.

  Name of peak Name of Expedition Date of Conquest
1. K-2 (28,250 ft) Italian Karakoram Expedition by Prof. Dr. A. Daiso 31-07-1954
2. Gasherbrum II (26,360 ft) Australian Himalaya Karakoram Expedition 1957 led by Mr. King. Fritz Maravoc 07-07-1956
3. Mustagh Tower (23,800 ft) British Baltoro Expedition led by Mr. J.H. Hartog. 06-08-1956
4. Broad Peak (26,550 ft) Austrian Karakoram Expedition 1957 led by Mr. Harcus Schmuch 09-06-1957
5. Hidden Peak (Gasherbrum I) (26,470 ft) American Karakoram Mountaineering Expedition by Mr. Nicholas B. Clinch 04-07-1957
6. Gasherbrum IV (26,120 ft) Italian Alpine Club Mountaineering Expedition led by Mr. Riccardo Cassin 04-07-1958
7. Pyramid (23,158 ft) Frankfurt Himalaya Expedition (German) 05-07-1955
8. Chogolisa (25,200 ft) Academic Alpine Club Koyoto Karakoram Expedition led by Mr. T. Kuwabara 04-08-1958
9. Mount Ghent (Kondos Peak) (24,278 ft) Austrian Karakoram Expedition 1961 led by Erich Waschoil 04-06-1961
10. Baltoro Kangri (24,600 ft) Tokyo University (Japan) Karakoram Expedition led by Dr. Shihei 04-08-1963

Baltistan is the land of huge glaciers too. Here one finds the world’s largest glaciers outside the Polar region. Baltoro glacier is a huge glacier at the head of the Braldu valley, estimated to be 36 miles long and one to two and a half kilometers wide. It is one of the longest traverses that stretch east and west outside of the Polar Region.

Biafo Glacier is another vast glacier in an almost perfectly straight line which is estimated to be 54 miles long. Together, the Biafo-Hispar glaciers form a 76-mile path that is the longest glacier crossing outside the Arctic.

In 1892, Biafo glacier was first visited by Sir Martin Conway, who approached it via the gorge of Hunza and the glacier Hispar. Seen from the Hispar pass the great ice basin forming the upper part of the Biafo gave the impression that the outflow was not immediately apparent as a fully enclosed “Lake.”

Therefore Conway named it the “Snow Lake” a misnomer which still persists. Biafo flows from the Snow Lake south-east towards the Baldur Valley, its snout, moraine covered, still reaching into the valley in 1956 Biafo-Hispar has a panorama of superlative grandeur of one of the world’s most magnificent landscapes, described by Martin Conway as the wonder of the earth, ‘the memory of which clings while life lasts.’

Siachen glacier in the eastern Karakoram between Siachen Muztagh and Saltoro range-latitude is 46 miles long: lengths from 3,5.11 to 35,44 N: 76.40 to 77.013 E. It flows out into Nubra River, a small Shyok River tributary.

Rimo glacier is located in east Karakoram and drains into the Shyok River, an important Indus tributary. Godwin Austen glacier is situated in the eastern Karakoram, north of Baltoro, leading to the world’s second-highest K-2 point, northward.

Broad peak (23,000 feet), between Mount Gasherbrum and the 28,200 feet high, great ‘K-2.’ In 1902, Eckenstein reconnoited K-2 and camped for over a month on its glacier at 19,000 feet. For K-2 he gave the name Chigoro. There is no hope for any climbing K-2 mountaineers that are too steep and icy.’

Baltistan has beautiful scenic beauty to it. Shigar valley is one of the rare places of beauty. It is approximately 25 miles long and 3 miles wide with agriculture on both sides of the Shigar River. The river Shigar is formed by a confluence of the rivers Basho and Braldu.

It has a length of about 24 miles from the confluence, and flows across from Skardu into the river Indus. Apricots orchards extend for miles and miles and the sight is magnificent when the leaves change colors in the fall. Mr Fasco Maraini, who visited Baltistan in 1954, was delighted and described this region in the following words:

“Shigar is not only a scarce place of beauty. It is of interest to the traveler on various grounds. The oasis is probably the wealthiest and best looked after in all of Baltistan. It has a population of about 20,000. Village succeeds each village lost in the thickest clusters of trees you can imagine.

The Khaplu valley is also a gorgeous place and worth a visit. In a radius of around two square miles Khaplu is spread out. It is a mass of orchard made up of apricot treetop lakes. The Shyok River flows through the entire length of the Khaplu Valley, and joins the Kiris Valley Indus River. From Chulunka to Kiris the river is about 91 miles long.

There are a number of beautiful lakes in the united Saltoro-Kundas and Hushey rivers joining the Shyok at Khaplu Baltistan. The lakes of Kachura and Satpara are beyond match. Some of the foreigners who visited Kuchura Lake weren’t so impressed when they were heard saying they didn’t see a better lake than Kachura did.

The Lake atpara is a lake created by man. This also has an island. It was “the Brave” Ali Sher Khan Anchan who founded the Satpara Band during his reign (1580-1624). The band is considered an engineering foothold.

Miss Duncan has described it in the following words:

“The barrage crosses the river just as it enters the lake is about 14 feet high and 6 feet thick and has two levels of doors 6 inches per floor, per door being 5′ x 1′-9″ wide, smoothly cut, semi-circular grooves to receive the rounded edges of the dressed granite slabs, now lying in the water below that used to close them.”

A great Wall from Shagarthang to Thurgo was designed by Ali Sher Khan Anchan over mountains and rocks with forts and watchtowers. The relics of this wall and bastions can still be seen near Lake Satpara.


 Baltoro Muztagh of the Great Karakorum

1.K-2 (Godwin Austin)  28,250 ft
2 Skyang Kangri:    24,751 ft.
3.Broad Peak:  26,550 ft  
4.Gasherbrum 1  26,470 ft.
5.Gasherbrum 11 26,360 ft.
6. Gasherbrum 111  26,090 ft.
7.Gasherbrum 1V 26,180 ft.
8.Gasherbrum V:   24,019 ft.
9.Gaherbrum V1  22,976 ft.
10.Muztagh Tower  23,800 ft.
11.Ghogholisa 25,110 ft.
12.Baltoro Kangri 23,989 ft.
13.Paiju peak 21,654 ft.
14.Trango Towers  21,706 ft.
15.Mitro peak 19,711 ft.
16.Mangu Gusor 20,630 ft.
17.Black Tooth   22,044 ft.
18.Bial peak 22,077 ft.
19.Crystal peak 20,463 ft.
20. Biange peak   21,070 ft.
21.Biarchedi  20,390 ft.
22. Sia Kangri   24,350 ft.
23. Urdak peak  24,619 ft.
24. Urdak peak 1   23,235 ft.
25. Abruzi Saddle    24,934 ft.
26. Marble peak 20,466 ft.

Masherbrum Range

1.   Masherbrum (K-1)  25,660  ft.
2.   K-6    23,890 ft.
3.   Dansamn (K-13) 21,870 ft.
4. Mount gent (Kundus) 24,278 ft.
5. Skil Brum 24,344 ft.
6. Pioneer peak 22,172 ft. 
7. K-7     22,753 ft.
8. Urdokas massive 20,892 ft.
9. Liligio peak 20,508 ft.

Saltoro Range in western Karakoram

1. Saltoro Kangri:   25,400 ft
2.Sherpr Kangri: 23,960 ft.
3.K-12 (peak 8): 24,503 ft.
4.Mount Chent (Kondus)  24,278 ft.

Panmah Muztagh Range

1.Ogri peak: 23,900 ft.
2.Baintha Brakk:    22,044 ft.
3.Snow Lake:   21,630 ft.
4. B.15:  23,914 ft.

Siachen Muztagh

1.Teram Kangri:    24,489 ft.
2. Mount Rose: 23,604 ft.
3.Apose: 23695 ft.

Read also: Pakistan tourism industry and Gilgit Baltistan

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