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Karakoram Story Part II



Lamakheti to Murgo

The camp was good with the river flowing nearby. The weather was also fine and we left the camp after B/fast. Slowly moving over the gently rising trail we reached the end of the road under construction and were stopped by the fast flowing nala coming from our right. Some jumping over boulders saw us across it and again on to a good trail. As we neared the end of the river, the scene on the left started to open up with huge glaciers flowing down the distant snow covered peaks of Mamostong Kangri and South Terong range. The trail climbed up to a cluster of cairns and we reached a flat ground with green grass cover but without any water nearby. There after it was a good trail gently rising till we reached the broad gently flowing nala coming from our right. Just across it lay our second days camp. Opposite to the camp not very far off were the glaciers coming down the snow peaks.

The next day's trail was again gently rising without any major problems. We kept moving towards the ever narrowing valley and then the trail started to climb the slope. As I climbed the final portion to the top of the ridge and took the U turn a lake came into site. It was an awesome view of the glacier falling into the lake with a vertical fall and it was not a small one at that. The trail moved to the far bank of the lake and every few steps I stopped to admire the view. A small section separated this lake from the next one at the base of the Saser la. This second lake was also not small and here also the glacier coming from the northern end of the Saser Kangri range, fell right into the lake and on top of it was the famous Saser la. The camp at Tut-yailak was established next to the lake and the horses were let off for grassing in the ground. The rest of the day passed off dozing and taking pic's of the place and getting ready for the next days climb, keeping in mind the stories one had heard of the trail.

The day was clear but very cold due to the lake. The climb to the pass started off in earnest and on climbing the first slope seen from the camp I realised that the trail moved down as there was another lake in between and what we had seen was the first glacier slope. Got down to the lake and moved to the other end and climbed up the trail which was moving up towards the pass. We did not have to climb the snow slope and reached the top of the Saser la without much of problem. The top was marked with Buddhist prayer flags and a small box was also kept there. From the top the trail moved down the slope all the way to the Shyok river, which came into view when we had moved down the slope a bit. The slope was long and it took time to reach the camp site below the pass. After a short rest we moved ahead and took the left path which took us to the river by passing the Saser Brangsa camp site. As we moved towards the river the topmost thing in everyone's mind was the Swing bridge. From quite a distance a thin line crossing the river came into site and grew bigger as we moved nearer. The water was just about touching the lowermost portion of the bridge which was a rickety one and seemed risky. The river was flowing fast and was full. So bridge was the only option for crossing the river. One by one we took to the bridge and holding the side wire moved across it. Finally everyone except horses were on the other side. Bridge cannot take horses load and in afternoon the water was quite deep and flowing very fast. Camp was setup on the vast open plain on the other side on the pebbles as there was no other place. The night passed off without any problem.

Next day also was bright and clear. The major activity was the crossing of the horses who had spent the night at the other bank, grazing high up the hill. We started our B/fast as the horsemen left to bring the horses down. The camp was wound up as the horses reached the river and were driven to the crossing spot by the horsemen. The lone donkey in the pack took the first step in the ice cold water and the rest followed. In five minutes and some 500 meters further down the river, the horses touched the bank on our side. The sun had come out and must have provided quite a relief to the shivering horses.

We continued towards the Chongtash nala junction with the Shyok river. Just few meters before the junction the trail climbed up the side slope and slowly we started to gain height. The top was marked with cairns and the trail flattened out as it moved along the slope with a drop all the way down to the Chongtash nala down below. The trail moved for few km before turning towards right and going down to meet the nala. We had to cross the fast flowing nala and climb the opposite side cliff to the top. The crossing was not bad and the climb up the cliff was facilitated by the fixed rope. Out of the gorge and we moved out onto the trail leading to the Chongtash plateau. The trail was more or less plane and we moved slowly towards the Chongtash skirting the big lake which had shrunk in size during this time of the year. The site of huge single stone in the middle of the plane signaled our arrival at Chongtash. Well another six km on the dusty trail brought us to the Murgo camp and we halted there for a well deserved rest. Half the way to KK pass had been completed. We were now at the junction of the summer and winter caravan routes. From here it is single way to the pass and onwards to Central Asia.

Top Story continues : Murgo to Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO)

Karakoram Pass Photos Part I

Karakoram Pass Photos Part II

Karakoram Pass Photos Part III

Karakoram Pass Photos Part IV

Karakoram Pass Trek

KEEP THE MOUNTAINS CLEAN












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Published on: 2008-01-10 (1923 reads)

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