World's Best Hikes 8: K2 Basecamp

World's Best Hikes 8: K2 Basecamp

World's Best Hikes 8: K2 Basecamp

Written By: SportsShoes

In part 8 of our World’s Best Hikes series, our SportsShoes x The North Face Ambassador, Zahra Rose, shares her experience of trekking to K2 Basecamp.

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I had the time of my life on this trek and I was simply blown away by the beauty of Pakistan. It was by far the most scenic route I’ve ever taken (and the hardest!), but the company that I had made every moment special. In total, we hiked for 139 km with 2570m of ascent, so you can appreciate that it was no easy feat. We battled torrential rain, freezing temperatures, heavy snowfall, scorching sun, cold desert landscapes, hot desert landscapes, dangerous rockfall, broken paths on narrow ridges, steep inclines, boulders, deep river crossings and shifting glaciers. All with a group of strangers and incredibly knowledgeable, strong brave and sometimes poorly equipped guides.

United by our struggles to reach base camp, our mountain family was born. The journey was extremely tough and very challenging, but together we made it!

What a mission and success- Alhamdulilah. I couldn't have done with without my people - the ones I found and met on the mountains and the ones that sent me their love from home - a big thanks to you all!

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Below is my daily diary which documents our very special journey;

DAY 1: Drive from Skardu to Jhola

Altitude: 3,103m

This was a very bumpy 6-hour jeep ride, we drove through Askole which is the last village with human civilization in Shigar. 

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DAY 2: Trek from Jhola to Paiju

Altitude: 3,418m / Distance: 19.8 km

We followed the Braldu gorge, along the bank of Braldu river. We spent this entire day battling relentless rain and snowfall. This was also our first river crossing. We were able to view astonishing rocks of Trango Tower and Cathedral Peak when we reached camp.

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DAY 3: Acclimatize and rest in Paiju

Altitude: 3,418m

We spent this entire day drying our wet clothes, playing card games, admiring our views and surroundings, meditating and getting to know one another.

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DAY 4: Trek from Paiju to Khoburtse

Altitude: 3,788m / Distance: 14.7 km

It was on this day that the trekking got tough. However, the scenery became more amazing with each step that we took on the snout of Baltoro Glacier. The trail had continuous up and down climbs on the glacial moraine and looked simply incredible. 

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DAY 5: Cross small glaciers and walk to Urdukus

Altitude: 3,905m / Distance: 6.4 km

The Trango Towers could be seen after coming across two small glaciers. The camp was 100m above the glacier. 

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DAY 6: Trek to Goro II, the junction of the Baltoro glaciers and Young husband 

Altitude: 4,285m / Distance: 11.9 km 

We walked through the middle of the glacier. The medial moraine was followed, to the south we saw views of Masherbrum (7821m). This was our first night stay camp on Baltoro Glacier at Goro II. The temperature dropped dramatically this night, and we found ourselves submerged in ankle-deep snow, which continued to fall heavily.

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DAY 7: Trek to Concordia through a rocky moraine 

Altitude: 4,512m / Distance: 11.7 km 

On this day we reached Concordia after continuously walking up the moraine. On the way, more and more high snow-capped peaks appeared, this was also our first view of K2 (which wasn’t visible until the morning due to the severe snowstorm we found ourselves in). Other peaks that could be seen included Broad Peak, Mitre Peak, Gasherbrum, Sia Kangri.

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DAY 8: Trek to Broad Peak BC, Gilkey Memorial and K2 Base Camp K2 BC (5,155m) + Gilkey (5,230m) + Broad Peak (4,844m)

This was another long and difficult day, which almost didn’t happen because of the snowstorms, avalanches and visibility, but the sun graced us when we least expected it. We left early morning, crossing the glaciers onto the faint trail heading towards K2. As we followed the glacier towards K2, Broad Peak reared up to our right and after about 3 hours we stopped at Broad Peak base camp for lunch. Just before K2 base camp, amongst the boulder and ice strewn landscape, is the Art Gilkey Memorial. A short scramble brought us to the place where those whose lives K2 claimed are remembered. We almost had to turn back due to sheer exhaustion, and losing sunlight, but we persevered and eventually we reached our goal. There were tears of joy, plenty of hugs and celebration. It was by far the hardest, yet most rewarding thing I have ever done.

The following 6 days brought us back down the same route we came. Our plans were to go down via the Gondogoro La Pass, however, it was unfortunately closed due to the weather conditions.

I absolutely loved my time on these majestic mountains and terrain, I truly found myself, my purpose, and my extended family on this trip.

K2 will always hold a big space in my heart. Would I go back again? I’m not so sure, but it’s certainly the best experience of my life to date and I’m itching to be back in the karakoram mountain range. It’s not my first mountain and certainly won’t be my last. Everyone needs a mountain to look forward to conquering - either metaphorically or physically. Onto the next adventure we go.

A big thanks to SportsShoes and The North Face for all their support.

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Here is a list of my essential kit items from the trip:

1. Sea to Summit mattress

If you want a comfortable (and more importantly), a warm sleep at night then this will be your lifesaver. You will be sleeping on a glacier for most of the trek and it's freezing. If any part of your body is not on this amazing piece of gear, then rest assured you will feel it. Occasionally, you will be sleeping on rocky terrain so the cushioning this provides is luxurious. I will no longer be camping without it. 

SHOP SEA TO SUMMIT MATTRESS HERE

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2. The North Face E-Tip Liner Gloves 

These have been my go-to-glove since I first started trekking and hiking many years ago. You can wear them whilst using your phone to capture all those special moments.

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3. The North Face Athletic Outdoor Midlayer Top: 

I wore this for almost all of my time on the mountains - it's chic, warm, and practical. I often tied this around my waist so that I could put it on and take it off easily. It’s the perfect layer to warm you up when you come to a halt and being to feel the cold. 

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Pictured: Zahra Rose wearing The North Face Athletic Outdoor Midlayer Top

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SHOP THE NORTH FACE ATHLETIC OUTDOOR MIDLAYER TOP HERE

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4. The North Face Summit Series Cloud 800 down jacket:

If ever there were such a thing as a sleeping bag jacket, this would be it. Super-warm, cosy, and the big hood provides excellent shelter from the elements and cold. I basically lived in this every evening and during the day at Basecamp. 

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5. The North Face Athletic Outdoor Insulated Hybrid Jacket: 

This was an excellent hybrid layer for when it was cold, but not cold enough for a huge down jacket. It added insulation and was perfect for our lunch stops as it's lightweight and can easily be carried in a day bag. Also, it's perfect to sleep in on the glacier as it isn’t bulky but provides excellent warmth during chilly nights. 

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Pictured: The North Face Athletic Outdoor Insulated Hybrid Jacket

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SHOP THE NORTH FACE ATHLETIC OUTDOOR INSULATED HYBRID JACKET HERE

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6. The North Face Women's Athletic Outdoor Woven Trekking Trousers:

These are water resistant, quick drying - perfect for all the water crossings en-route. Adjustable with a draw string and the comfiest trekking trousers that I have ever worn. I have these in two different colourways and look forward to adding more to my collection.

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7. The North Face Athletic Outdoor Women's T-Shirt:

The perfect base layer for the start of the trek, you will come across many desert-type landscapes, hot blistering sun and get warm from walking, so it’s always great to have an excellent short-sleeved moisture wicking base layer to strip down to.

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SHOP THE NORTH FACE ATHLETIC OUTDOOR WOMENS TSHIRT HERE

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Zahra Rose is a leading member of Muslim Hikers, a grass root initiative set up to help empower and inspire Muslim communities to get outdoors more. What started off as just an Instagram page for online community during lockdown has now rapidly grown into a massive global community with hundreds joining their hiking events across the UK. Muslim Hikers is part of the Active Inclusion Network, which also includes Muslim Cyclists and Muslim Runners.

Visit the Muslim Hikers website for more information about The Roaches hike and all other upcoming events.

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Head over to the SportsShoes Hiking Hub for more inspiration, tips and motivation, and if you are looking for any gear, checkout our Hiking Shoes, Clothing and Equipment.

Related post: SportsShoes x Muslim Hikers: The Roaches, Peak District | The Hiking Hub | SportsShoes.com





 


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