Snow Lake Biafo – Hispar Classical Trek
(Skardu Baltistan – Hunza Valley & Vice Versa)
Islamabad – Chilas – Skardu – Askolie – Namla – Mongo – Biantha – Naqpogoro –Marphogoro – Karfogoro – Snow Lake – Hispar La – Kani Basa – Rest – Jutmal – Pumory – Bitanmal – Falaling Chhish – Hispar Village – Karimabad – Rest – Gilgit – Besham – Islamabad.
Biafo Glacier (37 miles long) and Hispar Glacier (38 miles long) meet at the 5151 m. Hispar Pass to form one of the longest glacial systems outside the Polar Regions. This highway of ice connects two ancient mountain kingdoms: Hunza in the west with Baltistan in the east. In olden times warriors from Nagar would use this natural pathway to invade the peoples of Askoli in Baltistan. Later on the well known sport of “Polo”, a Balti word meaning ball, served as a more positive outlet for aggression between these two kingdoms and matches were played on stretches of level ground in this locality. Because the Biafo-Hispar region is very remote it serves as the last stronghold for many animals; including Himalayan bear, ibex, markhor and the snow leopard.
H.W. Tilman, an adventurer, claimed he saw footprints of the yeti during his trek there in 1937.
At the base of Hispar Pass on its eastern flank rests Snow Lake, a basin of ice 10 miles wide surrounded by granite pinnacles yet to be climbed. Glaciologists have conducted various experiments on the lake and have found the ice to be approximately one mile deep. Some go as far as to say that Snow Lake represents the last of the original ice cap in the earth’s temperate zones.
The first segment of the journey from Islamabad to Askoli is identical to that of the K-2 Trek. We begin our walk from Askoli towards K-2 then shortly head west onto the Biafo Glacier. After trekking three to four days we arrive at Banta Campsite located on an ablation valley below the granite peaks of the Ogre (7813 m). The walk takes us past glistening clear lakes, bright spots of green grass, glorious wild flowers and the ever present vertical snow covered peaks hanging above to complete this dazzling scene. The next two days take us over the white covered Biafo Glacier to Snow Lake. We then make the exhilarating walk up to Hispar Pass continuously overwhelmed by the incredible views.
Having reached the highest point of our journey atop Hispar Pass (5151 m), we begin the descent into Hunza; a land where the language, culture and ethnic background is vastly different than that of Baltistan. We follow the Hispar Glacier past massive mountains such as Kanjut Sar (7852 m) and Disteghl Sar (7885 m) reaching the end of the glacier in four to five days. The green oasis of Hispar Village awaits us signaling only another days walk before a jeep transports us to Karimabad, Hunza. First sight of the lush valley of Hunza is breathtaking and in some ways makes up for the nostalgia one feels after completing a long walk. We spend one night in Karimabad then we are off to Gilgit by way of the KKH. Depending on the weather conditions we then fly or drive back to Islamabad.