I’m catching up with admin whilst sheltering in my tent at Johla camp having dodged an awful dust storm.
So to recap, we left Skardu this morning about 06:00am in a nice shiny Toyota Land Cruiser imported from China in 1972, so with all mod cons and slick tires we made the perilous journey up the valley.
To our amazement the road has had some work done on it and only twice were Pete and I ready to jump off the vehicle when either the front wheels or the back were off the actual road in thin air.
We arrived in Eskole in one piece if a little shaken and sat down to some very, very averagely bland boiled rice and a meat dish, despite asking the “Meat” could not be identified..
The smell and decor’ of the rest stop immediately reminded Pete and I all of what we bloody hate about this aspect of the expedition. Until we get used to our chef, or at least until he gets used to us food it very hot snd miss.
What was a treat to hear was the rumours were correct, there had been a road created from Eskole to the next camp Johla which reduces the walk in by at least a day.
Pete and I walked through the village which is, although a really important stop on the Karakoram trek in, it is in fact one of the worst towns I’ve ever visited, ever. The people are less than friendly and it’s a filthy village with very little for anyone to want to visit.
Back on the jeeps we followed the alleged road for another hour, it came as no surprise that the Pakistanis had clearly announced they had built a road before actually building it, it was hideous. Just as rough, just as steep as the last 8 hours so we both agreed we would have preferred to walk!
We have been amazed at the lack of trekkers and the state of the trail, it’s pretty baron and neglected after almost 2 years of no climbers.
Dodging the campsite we were gland to see a mess tent already set up and a brew on the go, which was very kind of them, sadly this lasted just 10/15 minutes before the dust storm started……,,which see me writing this.
We’ve just had some evening food which, surprisingly wasn’t great. So let’s hope things look better tomorrow.
We decided not to take our test day at the next camp like most folk do, in fact like we have historically done, but instead we will trek day to day up to Urdukus camp unless we don’t feel great then we will see. This way we can potentially make up 2 days.
Bed at 19:03
Getting on the walk in
Gaining a day and getting to 3100m
Looking forward to a cosy sleeping bag.
The extent of challenges just to get here has caught us both up.
Averagely poor food
Smell of camping both site and us
Dodging dust and donkeys
So another catch up whist “relaxing” at another camp, Payu.
After a very rude awakening this morning due to some small breakdown in communications. Pete and I have managed to get porters from the last village, horrible Askole, and explained quite clearly in the queens English we would be having breakfast and coffee at 07:00, and leaving for the days trek at 07:40. Sadly my broken English/Pakistani/Europeanised shouting failed miserably. At 04:15 the porters arrived and demanded their carry loads….. ever so impressed with their keenness I just out of my sleeping bag and obligingly handed everything over, Mhhhhhh actually I was non impressed and turned over to carry on my interrupted sleep!
By the time I got up Petes tent and kit were gone and the crowd around my tent were baying for my blood.
The days trek was dirty and dusty with donkey dominating anything that resembled a track and nudging you off if you weren’t careful.
Dobkey/Mules/Horses are used to carry the heavy loads from the large international expeditions, which when they arrive at a designated camp stop very much try and dominate the best sleeping spots. But, rather inexperienced clients don’t have the advantage of knowing where the best toileting rocks are or more importantly where the enterprising porters sell Coke/Mountain drew and toilet role, our first opportunity to pay up to $10 for a bottle of ultra sugared coke.
Pete and I sat people watching and getting as much Beta as we could, finding out which expedition is attempting what and who could be a help or cause us problems. Let’s just say we’ve heard lots of really good bits of info.
Sadly a negative aspect of this people watching is porters walking around with chickens under their arms inevitably followed by a scream that means it’s chicken tonight. It’s a shame because the quality of chicken you get from one of these animals is really not worth carry in. Pete and I have told our team we do not support this.
We plan to get the BGAN out tomorrow to help us send pictures and this email so hopefully folk will be updated.
Pete and I took this opportunity to carry out a bit of admin to get kit straight and be prepared to meet the glassier tomorrow, historicity this is a really crappy trek as you gain quite some height and trek onto a glassier which is obviously cold and has a few obstacles. In 2016 we lost a Donkey in a fall which meant kit and materials were lost so fingers crossed they all get through.
I won’t lie, one part of expedition life I like is going to bed early, like really early. As the sun goes down the temperature drops rapidly and it’s best to get into a tent and sleeping bag before you get cold, as soon as the chills set in it’s really hard to get to sleep.
Our routine tends to be, eat, drink green tea, brush teeth, toilet, bed……. I’m sure Pete and I are beginning to be in sync as I’ve just met him behind the bloody toilet rock!
Getting closer to our start
Understanding other teams plans (without sharing ours)
Sorting camp admin and feeling refreshed.
Dust, dusty clothes, dusty skin, dry throat, gritty eyes.
Eating enough to not lose strength