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Gasherbrum II (and GI) expedition
**This page is a historic page frozen in time - see Our treks for the current website**
June-July-August -- Pakistan -- normal route
Gasherbrum II is the 13th highest mountain on the planet and is attributed with an altitude of 8035m. This is primarily at G2 (Gasherbrum II) expedition but with the optional backup of G1. Note that G1 is STEEP (70+ degrees), you NEED to be a rock climber or have climbed steep mixed routes.
We offer the best balance of quality and value. We run safe expeditions with a good staff ratios, have radios that always work and have AC power and email-internet at BC; everything you would expect and more.
The itinerary is approximate only, depending on porters and conditions. For more insight into our Pakistan expeditions read the 2004 Broad Peak dispatches, the 2007 Gasherbrum dispatches and 2009 Gasherbrum dispatches.
L-R: Gasherbrum II 8035m, Gasherbrum I 8068m and Gasherbrum III 7952m (#15) from the true summit of Broad Peak - Jamie
Islamabad, Skardu and while trekking is safe for tourists, yes, even Americans and Brits.
We have run many successful and safe expeditions however you must understand this is as real as it gets. We try our best with safety and gear within the limits of the expedition budget but this is 8000m and anything can happen. Even with good gear, good everything, the risk of death is small BUT REAL. There is UNAVOIDABLE avalanche, serac and crevasse danger. If you haven't climbed to 8000m before you will find the mountain bigger and scarier than you ever imagined.
We try our best and we are very responsible, caring people HOWEVER we are not liable for anything, full stop.
The itinerary is approximate only, depending on porters and conditions.
Day 1 - arrive Islamabad
We meet you at the airport; look for a sign with your name on it.
2 - in Islamabad
We stay in Islamabad for some sightseeing and to finish the expedition paperwork, and meet the government-assigned liaison officer.
3 - fly Skardu ~2600m
We fly to Skardu, the flight situation has improved and so we really hope to fly and will wait a day to ensure we have a better chance. Fingers crossed!
4 - free day in Skardu
If we are still in Islamabad then we will have to consider driving up, and the whole program will be one day behind.
5 - drive Askhole ~3000m
We take old Landcruiser jeeps to the end of the road and camp.
7 - trek to Jhola camp ~3200m
The morning is spent sorting out loads while we can explore around the end of the Biafo glacier, a tortured sea of ice and rocks two kilometers wide at this point. It takes around two hours to cross the glacier on a established trail, walking most of the time on moraine stone and occasionally on ice. Once across the glacier it is twenty minutes to Jhola Camp, close to Korofan.
8 - trek to Paiju camp ~3600m
Gasherbrum 4 greets us near Paiju. From here are occasional scrambles across the rock. Three hours walk brings us to the point where waters from the Paiju Peak divide into four rushing streams, that we jump over and wade thru, or pay a bridge fee. In the east dominating the horizon are the towering summits of Gasherbrum 4, Cathedral Towers and Broad Peak. After negotiating scree and sand walk along the river we arrive at Paiju, a campsite situated in a grove of willow and popular trees with a fresh water stream running through it.
9 - Urdukas ~4200m
An hour out of camp we climb onto the snout of the Baltoro glacier, a vast, turbulent sea of rocks and ice more than two miles wide and nearly forty miles long. The first stretch winds around dodging gray crevasses and cross to the eastern side, dropping off into the ablation valley. The view is magnificent: the range of Cathedral and Trango towers, rising to 6000m+, on our left. The managed camp offers great panoramas.
10 - Goro II ~4500m
We head back onto the glacier that has its own surprises for us, small streams of water rushing over clear blue ice, and mushroom like huge ice towers rising from the glacier. As we proceed Gasherbrum 2 peeps from the right shoulder of Gasherbrum 4 in the east. As we camp on thin layer of moraine stones on glacial ice, the night could be cold.
11 - Concordia ~4700m
Initially we trek on the medial moraine of the glacier to the incredible junction of Concordia. As we make our approach, Gasherbrum IV stands guard in the east. On our left we have magnificent views of Muztagh Tower on the border between Pakistan and China. Excitement mounts and paces quicken as we arrive at Concordia, lured by the classic views of K2 (8611m), the second highest mountain of the world. Concordia, the meeting place of five glaciers is named after "Place de la Concorde" in Paris. Within an radius of 15kms are 41 peaks above 6,500 metres, almost half of them still virgin and unnamed.
12 - trek to Gasherbrum Base Camp
13-14 - stay Base Camp
We spend several days acclimatizing and preparing our gear for load carrying. Feeling fit? We start carrying loads higher with an initial day trip or two.
15-43 (29 days) - climbing Gasherbrum II
The expedition leader in discussion with the team members and high altitude porters manages the day to day running of the expedition. There are several different methods to ready for yourself for the summit bid, we will discuss them in detail in base camp.
The basic plan is to take several trips up to around 7000m on the mountain. Logistically, it takes some sound preparation and organization to ensure all the camps are set up with the appropriate supplies. Then we need a window of good weather for the summit attempt and often this is a waiting game.
On the mountain the views of other Karakoram peaks is breath-taking.
Once we have summitted we clear the mountain of our gear and rubbish and head out. We are likely to summit prior to Day 47 but have quite a bit of time to wait out for suitable conditions.
See Mike Farris' 2006 climb diary for a photo of the route.
44-45 - cleaning the mountain and packing
It takes several days to clear all the camps, and bring all our rubbish down and pack everything ready for the porters.
46-50 - trek out to Askhole / Hushe
We trek out over 4-5 days, the route depends on snow conditions. We may return to Askhole, we may cross the Gondogoro La to Hushe.
51 - drive Skardu
52 - fly Islamabad
We fly and have two days that we can wait if needed.
53,54 - Islamabad
(latest date) - Day 55 - depart
Basically our expedition lasts as long as it takes to summit. We should be back to Islamabad by this time and so plan your departure around this time. Ensure you understand your options to change your flight prior to buying it. It is strongly recommended that you have a ticket that allows a date change. The usual cost seems to be $75 or perhaps $100, and note that US domestic flight sections often have a no change rule.