Hunza Valley, Pakistan: Our Trip 4

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Lady Finger and Hunza Peak, Karimabad, Hunza, KKH, Pakistan 1995

Featured Image: Lady Finger or Bublimating (6000 metres) and Hunza Peak (6270 m) above Karimabad, Hunza Valley, Pakistan. Ultar Peak (7388 m), Bojahagur Duanasir II (7329 m) are within 5 km. Rakaposhi (7788 m) and Diran Peak (7266 m) although around 27 kilometres away dominate the horizon across the river and the Karakorum Highway, KKH, May 1995.

ORT_Logo Breadtag Sagas ©: Author Tony, 18 January 2022

The Hunza Valley, Karakorum Highway, Pakistan: Our Trip 4

Introduction

In my first article about the Karakorum Highway I said that I’d been always fascinated by the Hunza and Nagar Kingdoms since I first heard about them in obscure books about South Asia and 19th century British India many of them out of print.

However, there are still many terrific books available about the Karakorum Highway and associated areas referenced in my articles, which are either still available in print, or historical books available as downloads on the Internet.

This is the fifth article in travelling the Karakorum Highway series. The others are: 1 The Karakorum Highway (KKH), 2 The Lower Karakorum Highway, 3 Besham to Gilgit, the Terrain, 4 Extreme Polo in Gilgit.

I found Hunza a magic place from my reading and had wanted to go there from quite a young age, before I persuaded Denise to make her first trip to Asia in 1995. The actuality of Hunza was not disappointing. It met expectations and fantasises.

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Besham to Gilgit the KKH Terrain: Our Trip 2

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Indus Valley from Alai Road Looking Towards Besham

Featured Image: Indus Valley from Alai Road Looking Towards Besham

ORT_Logo Breadtag Sagas ©: Author Tony,  1 July 2021

Besham to Gilgit, the Terrain on the Karakorum Highway: Our Trip 2

This is the third article on our trip up and down the KKH. The first is The Karakorum Highway which gives an overview of the terrain on the whole journey. The most difficult section to construct was in Indus Kohistan, which includes part of the area described in the second article The Lower Karakorum Highway: Our Trip 1.

We drove from Besham to Gilgit in a long day. Being stuck in a wagon all day, I did not get the opportunity to take photographs and need to fudge by showing other photographs from around Gilgit and Hunza to give you some idea.

The Gorge Country

The gorge country begins below Besham and continues after Besham for some time. One can see from the featured image a view of the Indus Valley from the Alai road the beginning of the difficult terrain in Indus Kohistan. One can imagine I think from that photograph that this is only the beginning of the mountains and that things are going to get worse rather quickly.

In the two articles, I said in the Karakorum Highway:

From Abbotabad on, the KKH winds mostly through narrow gorges on the Hunza, Gilgit and Indus rivers, which flow into one another down from the Khunjerab Pass. There are many bridge crossings across seemingly endless tributaries. The deepest and narrowest gorges are on the road from Abbottabad to Gilgit. The gorges open out somewhat above Gilgit. The climate at the bottom of the gorges is unbelievably hot and oppressive in summer.

‘It is like an oven’ said the gloomy bank manager from Dasu who travelled with us on a ‘Wagon’. The heat radiates from the cliffs thousands of feet above and is reflected down into the bottom of the valley. Although heat rises, it does not rise quickly enough. We met some walkers who had walked down from Fairy Meadow near Nanga Parbat base camp to the Raikot Bridge. The soles of their boots had melted on the black rocks. They regretted not paying for the jeep.

And in the Lower Karakorum Highway:

The canyon walls were high and slide prone for the first part of the trip. We were mostly in dry country at the bottom of chasms, but we saw all that there was to see of the river fans of the tributaries we passed over and small plateaus of cultivation above and near the edge of the river. We passed Chilas, the Raikot Bridge, the turn off to the Astore Valley and Bunji, but were not versed enough in history to pay much attention. We did however, stop at Talechi and viewed the largest number of snowy peaks viewable from the KKH, including Nanga Parbat (8126 m) behind us and Rakaposhi (7790 m) ahead of for the first time.

I also mentioned in in the first article about falling rocks. How these are the major cause of death for locals on the Pakistan side of the Karakorum Highway. And how rocks rained down on our wagon not long out of Besham.

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The Karakorum Highway KKH

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Featured Image: Nanga Parbat, Killer Mountain, KKH 1995

Featured Image: Nanga Parbat, the ‘Killer Mountain’ 8126 metres, from Fairy Meadow, 1995

ORT_LogoBreadtag Sagas ©: Author Tony, 2 April 2021

The Karakorum Highway (KKH) in 1995

The Karakorum Highway (KKH) runs from around Rawalpindi in Pakistan to Kashgar in China a distance of about 1300 km, through some of the highest mountains and deepest valleys in the world.

The KKH is sometimes called the eighth wonder of the world as a tribute to the engineering feat when it was constructed. Like similar roads in similar regions, for example Nepal and China, the KKH requires extensive maintenance to keep it open. Nowadays, in China there are endless spectacular engineering feats high bridges and roads that make the KKH seem old-fashioned.

The KKH threads its way through a ‘knot’ of four great mountain ranges: the Pamir, the Karakorum, the Hindu Kush and the [western edge] of the Himalayas, all of them part of the vast collision zone between [the Asian and the Indian tectonic plates]. (Lonely Planet)

Chinese Danyor Bridge, Constructed 1960s, Gilgit, KKH, 1995
Chinese Danyor Bridge, Constructed 1960s, Gilgit, KKH, 1995

The highest peaks near the KKH are Nanga Parbat (Himalaya 8126 metres or 26,660 feet), Rakaposhi (Karakorum 7790 m), Batura Peak (Karakorum 7785) Mt Kongur (Pamir 7719), un-named peak at the head of the Passu Glacier (Karakorum 7611), Muztagh Ata (Pamir 7546), Malabiting (Karakorum 7450), Haramosh (Karakorum 7400), Ultar Peak (Karakorum 7388).

There are many others slightly lower. In the Northern Areas of Pakistan there are about three dozen peaks over 7000 metres. K2 (Karakorum 8611 m or 28,250 feet), the second highest mountain in the world, near Skardu is not far from Gilgit in the Gilgit-Baltistan region.

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