En route to base camp finally!
|Askole and the first views of the Karokoram © field touring alpine|
Our team got off yesterday after well too many days waiting in Skardu for the military authorities to clear members of not only our team but several others. They are under way with trekking permits at this time so that they cannot lose precious days of acclimatization and the climbing permit is being confirmed shortly.
In nearly 20 years of working in Pakistan we have never seen such a delay for a team and we hope that this does not become the new norm as it is already challenging enough to coordinate all of the details for climb in Pakistan. Trekking permits remain simple to arrange but for some reason this year the climbing permits have been more difficult to have done in a timely manner. It remains true, as far we and our staff in Pakistan knows, that no group already in Pakistan has ever had a permit not be confirmed. Delays of a day or two have certainly happened before for us due to holidays or weekends etc, but there seem to be more significant delays than in any year in recent memory. Certainly 30-40 years ago these types of delays were expected in Pakistan and still are today in several other of the world's high altitude climbing locations (including the TAR in China ).
Let us hope this is not a return to a time of uncertainty and delays as this will bode poorly for climbing in the Karakoram. In the end we are climbing in a military zone and all decisions are made by the military and for reasons only known to them. Just one more bureaucratic crevasse to be crossed on the way to the top of the 12th highest peak on the planet!
|Porters in Askole may be "speedy" but the permit process is not! © stu remensnyder|
It will be a welcome relief for our team to leave behind the comfort of soft beds and the internet, trade them for rocky and lumpy ground covered by 3/4 of an inch of ensolite pads and to be served recently slaughtered goat for supper! The views of trucks and motorcycles in Skardu will be replaced with the sweeping and majestic mountains of the Karakoram. They will be heading to Jhula today and into Paiju tomorrow and along the way get first views of the Masherbrum Group, Paiju peak, the Trango towers, cross the Biafo Glacier and make one of the great river crossings in the Kararkoram.
|Porters awaiting their assignments in Askole © stu remensnyder|
|The Biafo Foot Bridge welcome note! © stu remensnyder|
|The Biafo Foot Bridge between Askole and Jhula © stu remensnyder|
|Porters with full loads crossing the Biafo Foot Bridge © stu remensnyder|
|Part of the effort to keep the impact of trekkers at a minimum in Jhula|
|Views ahead for our team include the awesome Trango towers.|