Monday, June 11, 2012

FTA Broad Peak 2012 - KKH here we come!

FTA Broad Peak 2012 team in Islambad © brad jackson

By Land or Air is worth the trip
Despite homing to take the smooth short way to Skardu our team has had to take the rough, bumpy and long one instead! With flights being delayed and the wait list extensive our team had no option but to get going by minibus to Skardu and will be enjoying the Karakoram Highway up close and personal.

Our team is already half way to Skardu having reached Chilas a short time ago. Ben called in to let us know all is well and they were glad to be in after a long 16hr day. He said the road was in quite good shape and overall the day was a "piece of cake" which is Ben's understated way of saying their backs ache and they are hungry!

We'll hope the return trip takes them by air and they can see Nanga Parbat on the way back and have dreams of more climbing in Pakistan!

See Nanga Parbat by Air on FTA's YouTube Site

The drive takes about 23 hours of driving split over the 2 days and by the time they see the silty gray Indus river, the green polo fields and busy streets of the seat of the Skardu District of Gilgit-Baltistan Province they will be ready for the soft beds and quiet respite which our hotel offers. They should arrive in time to enjoy a beautiful sunset view out to one of the world's most important rivers -  the mighty Indus.
View from the K2 Hotel in Skardu © dave hancock

After arriving in Skardu they will have a few days to have ministry meetings, set up tents, test O2 systems, check out rope & anchors, go over personal gear, purchase last minute items and ready themselves for the start of the trek. It will be a busy two days and a crucial time to be sure they have all that they need for the 7-10 weeks they will be gone. No chance to pick up spare batteries or extra cookies the way one can en route to Everest, Ama Dablam or Cho Oyu!

Join FTA's Dave Hancock for  a motorcycle ride in Skardu

With good luck they will have all their tasks completed in time and have time for a visit to the Shangrila Restort for a sunset BBQ and a drive to Satpara Sake for a cup of tea for additional acclimatization.
Enjoying the solitude of the beautiful Satpara Lake © Stu Remensnyder

The Indus
Originating near Mt Kailash in Tibet and strengthened by rivers flowing from the mountains of China, India and Pakistan, the Indus is crucial the economy of Pakistan for much of the more than 3000km it carves through mountains and valleys before emptying out into the Arabian Sea. Our members will come to know a number of rivers that add to the volume of the Indus including the Shyok, Hushe Shigar and Braldu. When heading to Askole they will even have a chance to drive through the Braldu and have a more intimate connection!

Crossing the Braldu en route to Askole © dave hancock
Testing the limits of 4x4 jeeps - Braldu River near Askole © stu remensnyder

Update from Brad
Before leaving for Skardu by road Brad penned us the following note and we hope you enjoy it. Brad has a flare for the purple prose so its always fun to read his writing.

Brad is also a great photographer and we look forward to seeing phenomenal images in high res when he is  back in end July. He has been quite the hit on National Geographic's website with shots from Everest. click on the link below to see a few of them!

From Brad in Islamabad 10th June, 2012
FTA Broad Peak team and staff in ISB © brad jackson
8th June 2012

Flew to Bangkok and onwards to Islamabad. Really surprised to be greeted by some rather attractive Pakistani women working the immigration desk. Much to our surprise and with apologies to Pakistan, our bags were almost first of the conveyor belt and we were waived through customs with a friendly wave.

Our selves and accompanying mutant duffle bags were quickly loaded onto a bus with the help of an eager local who was not so eager having being rewarded with my only available currency of Singaporean dollars. Rather amusing while we waiting for everyone to load was to watch a car being forklifted out of the way. We speculated on what damage this was doing to the undercarriage of the vehicle.

The road to the hotel was busy yet dark. Streetlamps on arterial roads seem not to be a priority

9th June.

Caught up with AL, Hamza and Matt in the morning and had an impromptu breakfast with Naiknam and Ashraf Aman from ATP. Checked in to see that Louis was not in a jet-lagged induced coma after having arrived in the wee hours of the morning.  Picked up his bag of goodies from Stu and had thoughts of Christmas mornings around a tree as we inspected the goodies within the duffle bag.

Ben and I went on a medkit run and bought up half of Islamabad’s supply of antibiotics and high altitude medicines for less than $50. Same little jaunt we also picked up some local SIM cards for some additional comms as we make our way North.

Robbo and I, in a bout of extreme cowardly behavior, forgo the delights of Pakistani cuisine and dine at dominos pizza for lunch. Large pizza for 2 around $5..woohoo.

Late afternoon, as the local temperature drops below 40 degree C we sequester some fine local chariots and make our rally driving style way to the embassy district for some further shopping, and coffee at Gloria jeans. Kudos to our taxi drivers who manage to squeeze the maximum performance and radical maneuvers out of cars powered with 250 cc engines. (That may be an over-estimation of the engine’s capacity)

That evening we meet our liason officer who when not escorting ourselves to the mountains manages to find time flying fighter jets for the Pakistan air force. Yup that’s right our LO is a fighter pilot and incredibly enthusiastic about the mountains of Pakistan having explored the base camps of K2, BP and Gasherbrums already. We feel like we have hit the LO jackpot.

That night, once again Matt came for the fore and lead us Pied Piper like to one of Pakistan’s finer dining venues. Unfortunately for us, one of Islamabad’s extended families of roughly 7,000 people had the same idea of venue choice and we endured over an hour of highly diligent waiter avoidance as a phalanx of support staff waited on the other group. Once the food arrived though it was spectacularly delicious and team FTA’s collective mutinous thoughts of a restaurant coup d’état were abated.

Brad will drop us many notes in the weeks ahead as the trip's official chronicler and we hope you enjoy following along!

1 comment:

JackieK said...

Well done Ben & team - you're on your way, well & safe & happy. Love from Oz.