Day 1: Skardu to Askole, July 1st
by Khalid Omar
This is the day where it all became real - the months of planning, of deciding, debating, preparing - it was all for this day, and here we were, setting off finally! We had two jeeps - one a large loader jeep with all our saman and porters, and one small one for us and our backpacks. The porters set off before us, and soon enough we followed at 7:30am.
The way to Askole is very scenic, it is a really nice drive, the road winding through the mountains, hugging the side on a often too-narrow track which winds it way through farms, then through rockfaces hanging overhead down to the river raging below. In the beginning you pass the Indus, then the later part of the drive is alongside the Braldu river.
The road literally hugs the mountain, at places just barely wide enough for the jeep.
There were a few roadblocks along the way, on the picture to the left the road is being cleared with jackhammers and dynamite.
We stopped for lunch at a surprisingly nice hotel. Reached Askole at 4pm - our porters had reached before us, and were lounging around. There were four other groups camped there already, and they had taken all the best spots. The larger groups send some porters ahead with their tents to pre-book their places, and some even send them a day in advance to ensure the best spots!
We pitched up tent a distance from the rest, than got down to distributing our saman to the 13 porters. It all has to be weighed, as they only carry a max. of 25kg each, and it turned out our weigh scale only went up to 25kg, so it wasn't acceptable! After asking around, we borrowed a better scale from another group, and parceled out the saman.
There is a hotel at Askole, so we saved our supplies by eating there. It was surprisingly dingy, and the food tasted like shit - even our porters refused to eat there as they said it'll make them sick! And if it the iron clad local porter couldn't digest it, what would happen to us, someone wondered, before chomping down on the food.
Found out that all the campsites along the hike to K2 are very active - besides the three trekking groups camped alongside us, there was a very large group of porters taking saman for a Iranian expedition to Broad Peak, and another large group waiting for their principals.
Just to prove it's a very small world, camped just hundred feet away was a British/Pakistani group, amongst whom I bumped into a old classmate of my fathers, who had last met him back in the 70's when they attended IBA together!
Posted in K2 Base Camp Hike, May 3, 2008, by Khalid Omar