If for something is Pakistan known for, is for its mountains. In the north of the country we find the bigger Asian mountain ranges: The Himalaya, Karakorum, Hindu Kush and the Pamir with mountains reaching above eight thousand meters.
Even though the country’s capital is Islamabad, Gilgit is considered to be the north capital, of the mountain areas. Gilgit was even on the first century a first class commercial hub on Central Asia, strategically located on the routes from Middle East to China. Tough northern cities, as Skardu or Gilgit, have direct flights with Islamabad, nowadays it’s usual for expeditions traveling to the mountains to go north by the famous “Karakorum highway”. This road is truly spectacular by itself, and its 830 kilometers through the Indo valley takes us from Islamabad to Skardu, front door of the impressive Karakorum, the most spectacular chain of mountains of Pakistan and maybe of whole Asia.
Hunza – Little by little it is developing its educational, agricultural, commerce and industry facilities. These changes started in 1978 when the road between the Karakom and China was opened. Schools were built on the main walley villages, and today almost every child is now on school. This fact make this zone inhabitants to be a little different from the ones on other valleys. Hunza valleys are surrounded by enormous mountains. South of it lies the Rakaposhi massif (7.788 meters), on the West the Batura Muztagh one (7.785m) and northeast mountain ranges like Karun Kuh (6.977 meters). Worth noting is the Shimshal valley, north of Disteghil Star (7.885m)
Skardu and Baltistan – Year after year this zone of the Karakorum is the most popular among the expeditions, its located near the Indo river and here is were we find some of the biggest mountains of the world. The K2 with its impressive 8.611 meters is the second highest peak in the whole world. Other eight-thousanders can be found in this region (Broad Peak & Gasherbrum I and II) are on this spectacular place. Big glaciers are also found here, like the Baltoro, Biafo or Hisper ones, and many other summits above 7.000 meters.
Shigar – This little valley, not far from Skardu, is home for the descendants of the Kirgui, who migrated in caravans from China to this place through the routes connecting Chinese Xinjiang with Pakistan.
Hushe – This valley, considered to be the icing on the Karakorum cake, is located on the foothills of the Masherbrum that lead us to the famous Gondogoro Pass, connecting Baltoro’s basin and giving access to the base camp for the K-2.
The Balti people
Inhabitants of the northern lands of Pakistan, Baltis are Mongol and Tibetan descendants, but over time racial mixing has been happening with other ethnicities from the south (Arabs, Turks, Uighurs, etc.). Though originaly Buddhists, they were converted to Muslim the 15th century by Iranian visitors. The Baltis survive on subsistence agriculture developed on the walleys fertile floor, and sheep, goat, cow and dzo (cross between cow and yak) sheephearding. Dzos are mostly used for transportation and plowing. Milk, meat, cotton and leather is collected from them all. In the last fifty years they have got a fundamental role in all Karakorum’s expeditions. They are now allies, and constant companions, working as porters, carriers, and cooks for any trekking or climbing group.
Pakistaní mountains are home to mammals like the Himalayan ibex, brown bear, Tibetan wolf, blue sheep, Tibetan wild ass, weasels and golden marmots. But the king is, as on another Asian regions, the snow leopard.
Considering just the climate of the north and the mountains, June and July are the warmer months with temperatures over 20ºC in Islamabad. In the foothills of the Karakorum, maximum temperatures can reach 20-25ºC. December, January and Febrary are the colder ones and snow covers most of the valleys and peaks. In the mountains the temperatures are always low, below zero at night on trekking zones and below -15ºC above 6000 meters. On higher altitudes, temperatures are extreme.
What can we visit in Pakistan
Mountains, mountains, and even more mountains