Ghizar,

Thui An

Duration 5 days
Distance 47km
Standard moderate
Season July-September
Start Nialthi
Finish Sholkuch
Zone and Permit open, no permit
Public Transport yes
Summary An outstanding and popular traverse over a relatively easy pass, surrounded by tumbling glaciers and jagged 6000m peaks, this trek passes through traditional villages and links Yasin and Chitral.

 

Thui An (4500m) crosses the Shandur Range, a branch of the Hind Raj Range, between the Yasin and Yarkhun valleys. The trek offers dramatic close- up views of 6000m peaks, lovely alpine meadows and the opportunity to meet the Burushaski- speaking people of the beautiful Thui Valley, as well as the Khowar speakers of the Gazin Gol. Thui Gol braches west off the Yasin Valley above Taus.

The Thui An is a deservedly popular trek, and is the most frequently trekked route between Ghizar and Chitral. The trek can be done in either direction; this description is from east to west. It’s often combined with other open- zone treks. It can be preceded by the Asumbar Haghost trek (p) and followed by the Shah Jinali An trek (p). Done in the reserve direction (west to east), it can be combined with the Zagaro An trek (p) to make a near loop.

Planning

Maps

The US AMS 1:250,000 topographic map Mastuj (NJ 43-13) covers the trek. It doesn’t label Galpigol or Gashuchi. It shows a route along the Haghost Bar Glacier’s north margin, but the route actually goes up the middle. It shows the Gazin and Thui glaciers as joined, but they’re separated by a large alluvial fan.

Guider and Porters

A local guide is necessary to show the way over the Haghost Bar Glacier. Hire someone is Nialthi, or in Gazin or Nichagh when doing the trek in the reverse direction. Yasin porters seem happy to work for a flat rate per stage, including payment for food rations. Porters Need stoves and fuel because wood is very scarce at Gashuchi and unavailable at Galpigol.

Stages

It’s 5½ stages Total from Nialthi: (1) Lasht; (2) Shotaling; (3) Gashuchi; (4) Galpigol; (5) Nichagh; and (5½) half a stage to Sholkuch.

GETTING TO/FROM THE TREK

To the Start

Gilgit- Nialthi jeeps depart from a shop run by Bahadur off Gilgit’s Shaheed-e-Millat Rd. It may be easier to find Gilgit- Taus jeep. Alternatively, take the 8am daily NATCO bus from Gilgit to Taus ( eight hours), from where you can either walk along the road or look for transport. Yasin- Nialthi jeeps cost and Gilgit- Nialthi special hires.

When coming from the Asumbar Haghost trek, walk 4km south to Taus or walk 7km north to Barkulti and cross to the road along the Yasin River’s true left bank. Continue walking to Nialthi or look for transport.

From the Finish  

Sholkuch- Mastuj jeeps  and special hires. Since jeeps from Sholkuch are infrequent, you may have to settle for one from Paur, one hour’s walk and half a stage below Sholkuch. If you’re lucky enough to find one, Gazin Gol- Mastuj jeeps and special hires. Mastuj- Chitral jeeps and special hires.

When heading Upvalley from Sholkuch, cross the bridge over the Gazin River and follow the road up the Yarkhun River’s true left (east) bank and look for a ride.

The Trek

Day 1 : Nialthi to Shotaling

5½- 6½ hours, 17.2km, 395m ascent

At Ali Murad Shah’s store in Nialthi (2790m), the government road ends and the narrower community- constructed road continues. Spend a night in Nialthi; Mohammad Ali Shah, Ali Murad’s father, makes his orchard available to trekkers.

Descend to the footbridge over Thui Gol and climb 20 minutes to Das village along the true left (north) bank. Continue up the good trail one to 1½ hours to Muskh, with its poplars and clear stream. It’s another one to 1½ hours to Lasht, a summer village. Just 15 minutes farther, around the alluvial fan and across a clear stream, is Balegarch, a nice lunch spot.

Continue 1½ hours up the wide valley, with granite cliffs on either over which flow waterfalls, through birch and willow stands to the well-made huts at Ramanch. Fifteen minutes farther cross the footbridge over the Kerun Bar (3078m) and reach Shotaling (3185m) in another hour. Here are the last birch trees (taling) along small grassy plots watered by a small, but very clear spring.

Day 2 : Shotaling to Gashuchi

4- 5 hours, 6.3km, 985m ascent  

This is the trek’s most strenuous day. Follow the river’s true left (east) bank a short distance to where Ice from the Haghost Bar Glacier bridges the river. Cross this permanent ice bridge and climb steeply, but briefly, up the moraine- covered ice to the more level glacier. (Alternatively, continue upvalley and ford the Barum Bar. In summer, this river has too much water isn’t Possible to ford.) Once on the glacier, follow the fairly even, stable seam between the broken north margin and the heavily crevassed ice along its south margin, which flows from a massive icefall down a high snowy peak. Continue up the brown medial moraine, finding occasional cairns, keeping in the level, crevasse- free midsection. As you climb towards the confluence of the Qalander Gum Glacier, leave the medial moraine to the north and work onto the smooth central ice, lightly covered with small rocks. Follow this up and around to a knoll of brown moraine opposite the Qalander Gum Glacier. From here, the grassy Gashuchi area and the pass are visible ahead.

Leave the brown moraine and cross the smooth ice towards the grassy area. Follow the edge of the icy glacier and the brown moraine on the north margin, detouring around a few small crevasses, until opposite the grassy hill. Cross the moraine in 15 minutes. Climb a trail up the verdant hillside, past a large cairn on a rock, and contour through profuse wild onions, willows and flowers, over many small streams, to reach Gashuchi in another hour. Gashuchi (4170m) is on a level alluvial plain, near a large boulder on the hillside with a rock shelter next to it. Gashuchi means ‘wild onion’ in Burushaski; It’s Khowar name is Kachili. Stroll These alpine meadows where ibex are occasionally spotted, surrounded by dramatic, snowy peaks in a splendid  alpine amphitheatre.

Day 3 : Gashuchi to Galpigol

3- 4 hours, 4.8km, 330m ascent, 390m descent

Crossing the Thui An isn’t difficult. The trail is clear and not overly steep. Walk around to the west slopes of the grassy hill, then cross the stream via a solid snowfield to the grassy area on Its west bank. Walk up to a small cairn that marks the point where the trail leaves the grass and begins to traverse west- south- west over scree to the pass. It takes from 1½ to two hours of steady walking to reach Thui An (4500m).

Descend a trail, keeping to the north (right) to avoid rockfall danger along the south side of the gully that runs west from the pass. Reach a solid Snowfield at the base of the pass in 30 minutes. Cross the snow-field to rocks on its opposite Side. Turn south and descend a trail over the rocky moraine towards the level alluvial area ahead. Don’t go too far west; be sure to keep to the true left (east) side of the Thui Glacier’s outwash stream. Continue south, towards the Gazin Glacier’s northern lateral moraine (4200m). Once you reach it, bear west along the trail that parallels this moraine 20 minutes to Galpigol (4110m), the small grassy level area between the moraine and the outwash stream. Just over the first moraine is an enormous boulder with porters’ shelters all around it.

Day 4 : Galpigol to Nichagh

4- 5 hours, 10.5km, 971m descent

Follow the trail along the edge of the Gazin Glacier’s lateral moraine, next to the Thui Glacier’s outwash stream. After 15 minutes, this stream turns and flows into the Gazin Glacier, blocking the path. Descend to the Gazin Glacier and detour 30 minutes around this obstacle, then climb back to the northern lateral moraine. Continue down a trail on moraine another 30 minutes to a small ablation valley. Follow the ablation valley 45 minutes over a small stream to a large alluvial fan and another clear stream, which makes a good Lunch spot. The entire area from here to the Golash Gol below is called Golash.

Leave the wide alluvial fan of the side stream, and enter the move narrow ablation valley north of the Gazin Glacier. Thirty minutes from the stream, the trail begins to descend. The Yarkhun Valley is visible far below. In 30 minutes more, reach a small hut at the ablation valley’s end with a small trickle of water. Contour the hillside, descending to the alluvial plain of Golash, which is dotted with birches, willows and a few junipers.

Reach the Clear Golash Gol (3450m) after 30 minutes, and cross it over a small footbridge. The first summer huts are 15 to 20 minutes farther. Thirty minutes below them are the few houses of Shunup, where the trail crosses a footbridge to the Gazin Gol’s true left (south) bank. Continue down the trail 30 minutes to Nichagh (3139m) where the traditional camp site is an orchard.

Day 5 : Nichagh to Sholkuch

2½- 3 hours, 8.2km, 439m descent

Walk 1½ to two hours downvalley to the Yarkhun River and follow the road for one hour to Sholkuch (2700m).

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