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K2 Mount base camp


The second highest mountain in the world is K2. The mountain took its name from the notation used by the Great Trigonometrical Survey of British India. At the time, there wasn’t an apparent local name for the mountain, and so it stuck. K2 is also nicknamed the ‘Savage Mountain’, which is cool in a slightly Point Break, over-the-top extreme kind of way. It is fitting, though, too. The mountain is typically considered one of the toughest mountains in the world to climb, notoriously harder than Mount Everest. K2 actually has the second highest fatality rate per summit attempt of all mountains over 8000m, with around 300 successful summits and 77 deaths. The highest fatality rate is that of the tenth highest mountain in the world (spoiler alert), Annapurna I in Nepal. Unlike Annapurna though, K2 has never been summited in winter.



Day 1 - Fly London to Islamabad

Today you will depart on an overnight flight to Islamabad.

Overnight Overnight: In flight


Day 2 - Arrive Islamabad. Fly to Skardu, 2,500m/8,202ft.

You will arrive into Islamabad early in the morning today and after clearing immigration formalities you will be met by our agents and taken to a café in the airport for breakfast. (Clients who have arranged their own flights will meet the group here).You will then have around an hour to relax before you need to check in for your spectacular flight to Skardu.

The flights to Skardu are weather dependent and if the flight doesn't operate today, you will drive to Skardu instead. As the drive takes two days the itinerary will be pushed back a day, with the extra day being made up later on in the trek with a longer walk on Day 12.

Overnight Overnight: Concordia Motel or Similar, Skardu


Day 3 - Drive to Askole, 3,045m/10,000ft - 96km, 6-7 hours.

You now drive in jeeps through areas of wheat fields and apricot trees of the Shigar valley. What begins as a tarmac road for the first hour slowly transforms into a very bumpy but dramatic track, forging its way through the steep Braldu Gorge to the famous Balti village of Askole. The first expeditions to K2 took five days to walk from Skardu to Askole!

Whilst in recent years it has become increasingly common to make it all the way to Askole in the jeeps, landslides and washouts sometimes make the road impassable and you may need to trek for several hours. The last few hundred metres of ascent are the most exciting involving many hairpins up out of the river valley, and they are also the most prone to landslides. Temperatures in the gorge are hot.

Any time left in the afternoon is well spent sorting kit and getting to know your trekking crew. Children from the village will be happy to sell you soft drinks and fetch them from the local shop for a price. There are a couple of 'campsites' squeezed in amongst the simple Askole houses, usually on terraces under fruit trees and there may well be other groups around that you can chat to about the adventure ahead.

Overnight Overnight: Camp


Day 4 - Trek to Johola, 3,100m/10,170ft - 6-7 hours.

Time to look back and savour the views as you leave the village this morning, as the land that you are about to enter is in stark contrast to the green valleys you leave behind.

It is a pleasant walk up towards the snout of the Biafo glacier; well before this there are some spectacularly weathered rocks where some shelter from the sun can be found. It is then an easy walk across the terminal moraine of the Biafo glacier to the oasis-like campsite of Korofong. It is here that the other classic trek in this region - over Snow Lake - heads off to the left. You may well stop here for lunch before carrying on to Johola Camp.

The path then stays up above the riverbed contouring round into a side valley, taking you up to the bridge to Johola Camp. Prior to the bridge being built an exciting Johola pulley system was used to cross the river. The wide-open space of Johola Camp is the first of several Pakistani Tourism Development Committee camps where water, toilet and washing facilities have been installed. Whilst the plastic cabins may look slightly out of place, the campsite is generally clean and tidy.

There is a wonderful stream running through here which is perfect for washing and cooling your feet which inevitably suffer in the heat of this gorge. Bakhor Das, 5,809m/19,058ft, across the valley and Paiju Peak's needle are like spires in the distance, which mark the gateway to the Baltoro.

Overnight Overnight: Camp


Day 5 - Trek to Paiju via Bardumal, 3,450m/11,318ft - 7-8 hours.

You will need an early start today. To begin with the path stays just up above the flood plain, on occasion coming very close to the river. The path can be loose here, and don't trust the banks of the river as they are often undercut. Later in the day you will cross a glacier fed stream. About an hour or so after the stream crossing you will arrive at Paiju.

The steep hillside at Paiju is well terraced with platforms for tents and the porters' shelters, and the last trees you will see for a while. The site has been developed by the government in recent years and now has wash basins (with views), toilet cubicles and litter bins. It is therefore a lot more civilised than it used to be! This campsite is often busy but gives you a chance to meet other groups. This is a major rest stop for expedition porters and tradition dictates major feasting on goats as well as singing and dancing.

Overnight Overnight: Camp


Day 6 - Rest and acclimatisation day.

Today you will be able to take things a bit easier and let your body adjust to the altitude. Your guide will be able to suggest some local walks for you if you want to stretch your legs and aid acclimatisation.

Overnight Overnight: Camp


Day 7 - Trek to Khoburtse, 3,990m/13,090ft - 5-6 hours.

Today the full majesty of the Baltoro glacier will unfold before you; this is the route ahead to the "Throne Room of the Mountain Gods", as Concordia was described by renowned photographer Galen Rowell.

About an hour from camp takes you up to the glacier, though even once on it, it is predominantly covered in rock, and will remain so until well after Gore II. Here on the glacier you are finally amongst the famous peaks of the Karakoram. The path is reasonably obvious, and over the course of a couple of hours you slowly cross the glacier to the right hand side of the valley. The exact path here varies from year to year but will without doubt involve some undulating!

After about four hours from Paiju you will come to the old campsite at Lilligo where you will stop for lunch. It is sometimes possible to see ibex on the rocks high above. After lunch there is a steady uphill, which takes you up away from the lateral moraine of the glacier and to grassland full of alpine meadow flowers. You then cut across the snout of Lilligo Glacier (remember to look right) and walk over the undulating ups and downs of the Baltoro until you reach the small campsite of Khoburtse. The camp here is squeezed onto whatever flat ground can be found by the moraines and is yet to benefit from the fixed toilet and rubbish facilities of Paiju. It does however have the first proper views of Cathedral Towers, Uli Biaho and the Great Trango Tower, and a sunrise well worth getting up for.

Overnight Overnight: Camp


Day 8 - Trek to Urdukas, 4,052m/13,291ft - 3-4 hours.

Today's trek is short, to help with acclimatisation, but strenuous. Most of your trekking will be on the glacier or the lateral moraine to the side, where the jumbled mess of rocks can make walking quite hard going. Along the way if the weather is fine you will have good views of Broad Peak's two tops in the distance. You are gaining altitude all the time and the approach up to the camp site at Urdukas will no doubt serve to remind you of this for the most challenging walking of this day is at the end. The camp site is an impressive spot, not only due to its situation but also its history. The Duke of Abruzzi's men on their 1909 expedition created the terraces on which you will spend this night. The site overlooks the Baltoro and has breath-taking views; stunning Cathedral peak is just the opposite side of the glacier.

Urdukas is the last of the 'developed' campsites, so make the most of the washbasins, toilets and litter bins. For those with energy still, a 30 minute hike up the grassy slopes behind the campsite really does provide a magnificent panorama of the Baltoro glacier.

Overnight Overnight: Camp


Day 9 - Trek to Gore 2, 4,380m/14,370ft - 5-6 hours.

This morning you head across the glacier, passing dramatic Masherbrum Peak 7,821m/25,659ft, and if the weather is good, from here you have views of Muztagh Tower 7,273m/ 23,861ft. As you leave the campsite at Urdukas you will pass the graves of high altitude porters who have died in the mountains. Sometimes the porters, especially if there is a holy man amongst them, will gather around the graves to say a few simple prayers.

The path switches over to the left hand side of the glacier, and you make your way slowly upwards, moving tantalisingly closer to Gasherbrum IV which, standing as it does at the head of the Baltoro, is like a beacon guiding you towards Concordia. Whilst the glacier is still predominantly covered in rock, the route passes a series of huge ice 'dunes' which add to the drama of the scenery. Lunch will happen en-route somewhere near Gore I, before trekking on for another couple of hours. By the time you reach camp, Gasherbrum IV completely dominates the landscape.

Gore II camp site is just after the small army camp and covers quite an area spread over the rock covered glacier wherever there is room to pitch tents. Here, the cold wind blows down the glacier, and camp facilities are nothing like those at the fixed camps, but given a clear night the star-filled sky over the surrounding peaks is truly magical.

Overnight Overnight: Camp


Day 10 - Gore 2 to Concordia, 4,650m/15,255ft - 4-5 hours.

A spectacular day as you trek to one of the most impressively situated camp sites in the world. The peaks tower over you and all appear to be tantalisingly close. Gasherbrum II, 8,035m/26,361ft, III, 7,952m/26,089ft, & IV, 7,925m/26,000ft, Mitre Peak, Chogolisa, 7,665m/25,147ft, Broad Peak, 8,047m/26,401ft, and, visible for the first time, the second highest mountain in the world - K2, 8,611m/28,251ft.

Concordia is at an altitude of approximately 4,606m/15,108ft, and although our well established itinerary allows for gradual acclimatisation to take place, you are likely to feel some mild effects of altitude here.

The camp at Concordia spreads over a huge area where the Godwin-Austin glacier meets the Baltoro, and the sites furthest away as you approach give the best views of K2. It may be busy here with a mixture of climbing parties and trekking groups enjoying the setting. The altitude and exposure to the wind can make this feel the coldest of all the campsites, but the sensational setting more than compensates.

Overnight Overnight: Camp


Day 11 - Trek to Broad Peak Base Camp, 5,000m/16,405ft - 3-4 hours.

Whilst the route along the Godwin-Austin glacier to K2 Base Camp looks entirely level, do not be deceived, as today you are gaining significant altitude. The hardest part of the route is getting out of Concordia through a maze of moraines, finally finding the central medial moraine of the Godwin-Austin glacier which you follow for 3-4 hours to Broad Peak Base Camp which is spread over the lateral moraines off to your right.

We feel that camping at Broad Peak Base Camp will give you the very best chance to get to K2 Base Camp. Other companies offering K2 treks camp no higher than Concordia and 'offer' clients the chance to trek to K2 Base Camp and back in a single, extremely long day. This permits virtually no time to be spent at base camp itself, and can result in arriving back, exhausted after 12-14 hours trekking, at Concordia after dark.

Broad Peak is the 12th highest mountain on earth, and is part of the Gasherbrum massif. Broad Peak was originally named K3 right after the naming of K2 but on closer inspection by a later party, it was discovered that the summit was over 1½ kilometers (1 mile) long, thus "Broad Peak". The first ascent of Broad Peak was made on June 9, 1957 by Fritz Wintersteller, Marcus Schmuck, Kurt Diemberger, and Hermann Buhl of an Austrian expedition led by Marcus Schmuck.

Overnight Overnight: Camp


Day 12 - Visit K2 Base Camp, 5,117m/16,785 ft, and return to Broad Peak Base Camp – 6-7 hours.

By now K2 will appear enormous though base camp is still much further than it looks. Climbers use camp sites both to the east and west of the glacier; there will undoubtedly be expeditions around that you can chat to and they'll be equally keen to hear news from the outside world. Base camp is almost too close to appreciate the sheer size of K2, but to see it rising up endlessly right beside you, and to talk to climbers who are trying to conquer it, make this an awe-inspiring place to be. This must be one of the most magnificent mountain locations in the world. You return to Broad Peak Base Camp for your overnight stay.

Please note that if at the start of your holiday you had a two-day drive from Islamabad to Skardu due to the flight not operating, you will make up that extra day today by continuing to trek back down to Concordia after your visit to K2 Base Camp. Total trekking time would be 8-9 hours.

Overnight Overnight: Camp


Day 13 - Trek to Gore, 2, 4,380m/14,370ft – 6-7 hours.

Today you will return to Gore 2. Along the way you will be able to take in the fantastic scenery once more; the Muztagh Tower, 7,284m/23,891ft, can be seen up to the north, and ahead of you down the glacier are all the spires of the Baltoro - Lobsang, Cathedral, Trango, Uli Biaho and Paiju. It is now a chance to say your goodbyes to K2!

Please note that today if you had to trek to Concordia on Day 12 then it is a short day returning to Gore 2, total trekking time would be 3-4 hours.

Overnight Overnight: Camp


Day 14 - Trek to Urdukas, 4,052m/13,291ft - 4-5 hours.

Today you return to Urdukas camp site to camp amongst the stunning scenery. You may like to take another half hour walk up the grassy slopes to get the great view of the Baltoro glacier. You might find this walk a little bit easier now that you are fully acclimatised.

Overnight Overnight: Camp


Day 15 - Trek to Paiju, 3,450m/11,318ft - 3-4 hours.

A return to vegetation, solid ground, and undoubtedly an evening of singing and dancing with the porters! Paiju camp is always a sociable place to stop and the porters will enjoy meeting their friends passing through with other groups.

Overnight Overnight: Camp


Day 16 - Trek to Johola, 3,100m/10,170ft – 5 hours.

The paths are better now you are off the glacier, and you will make good progress down to 'civilisation' at Johola camp.

Overnight Overnight: Camp


Day 17 - Trek to Askole, 3,000m/9,842ft - 5-6 hours.

Your remaining porters will race you back to the roadhead at Askoli for a final night of camping where it all began. Those porters who live in nearby villages may head straight home whilst others will hitch lifts on the jeeps tomorrow! Fresh produce will be available for the cook to use in his grand finale and for what will be your last dinner with the local trekking crew.

Overnight Overnight: Camp


Day 18 - Drive to Skardu.

The drama isn't quite over as you enjoy the jeep ride back down to Skardu. This time however, the road will slowly be improving as you descend. It may take a while to get all the gear loaded, providing plenty of time to say your farewells to the local team who have looked after you for the past fortnight. The luxury of a shower and a soft bed await you in Skardu. With luck also the internet, clean clothes you may have left at the hotel, and possibly a cold Chinese beer.

Overnight Overnight: Concordia Motel or Similar, Skardu


Day 19 - Fly from Skardu to Islamabad.

Subject to good weather you take the morning flight back to Islamabad. If for some reason the flight is cancelled you will spend the next two days driving back to Islamabad.

Upon arrival in Islamabad you will be transferred to your hotel.

Overnight Overnight: Hillview Hotel or Similar, Islamabad


Day 20 - Day at leisure in Islamabad or optional day trip to Murree.

Today you will have the option to explore Islamabad at your own pace, rest and relax at your hotel or take a guided tour of the old British hill station at Murree. These optional excursions need to be paid for directly to our agent when in Islamabad. Please contact our office for prices.

Situated 64 km from Islamabad in the hills of Hazara and Galyat (about a two hour's drive), Murree is an example of a hill station set up by the British during the mid-19th century. Murree was founded in 1851 by the Governor of Punjab, Sir Henry Lawrence, and was originally established for the British troops garrisoned on the Afghan frontier as a sanatorium. The permanent town of Murree was constructed at Sunnybank in 1853. The church was consecrated in May 1857 when the main road - the Mall - was also built. Opposite the church, the Post Office and the general merchants, selling European goods, clothes and millinery, were established. Until 1947, access to the Mall was restricted for non-Europeans.

In addition to visiting Murree itself, you may also be taken to some of the surrounding scenic areas such as the mountain resort of Nathiagali or Ayubia National Park.

After your excursion you will return to your hotel in Islamabad.

Overnight Overnight: Hillview Hotel or Similar, Islamabad


Day 21 - Day in leisure at Islamabd or optional day trip to Taxila. Transfer to airport.

Today you will have the option to explore Islamabad at your own pace, relax at your hotel, or take a guided tour of Taxila. This optional excursion needs to be paid for directly to our agent when in Islamabad. Please contact our office for prices.

Most of the archaeological sites of Taxila (600 BC to 500 AD) are located around Taxila museum. For over one thousands year Taxila remained famous as a centre of learning and for the Gandhara art of sculpture, architecture, and of Buddhism. There are over 50 archaeological sites scattered in a radius of 30 km around Taxila. In Taxila you can visit the archaeological sites of Jaulian, Mohra Moradu and Sirkap. There is also the option to visit Taxila museum, housing the rich archaeological finds of Taxila. It is one of the best and most well maintained site museums of Pakistan. If time permits you will also be able to visit Sirkap, an archaeological site on the bank opposite to the city of Taxila. The city of Sirkap was built by the Greco-Bactrian king Demetrius and his son Stultus, after he invaded ancient India around 180 BC.

After your visit to Taxila you will be transferred back to Islamabad in time for your international flight home.

Overnight Overnight: In flight

Day 22 - Arrive Home.