|Zone and Permit||open, no permit|
|Public and Transport||yes|
|Summary||This culturally and linguistically diverse trek through alpine meadows crosses a gentle pass with sweeping vistas.|
Asumbar Haghost, a nonglaciated east- west pass, links Asumbar village in Iskhoman with Dal Sandhi in Yasin. The pass is occasionally called the Iskhoman Pass (not to be confused with the Punji Pass, which is also sometimes called Iskhoman Pass). Asumbar Haghost is one of the easiest passes to cross anywhere in the Karakoram and Hindu Kush. The trek is also one of the most linguistically diverse. Along the trail, Shina, Khowar, Wakhi and Burushaski are spoken, not to mention Urdu.
This trek is usually combined with at least one other trek. The Pakora Pass trek often precedes it, and the Punji Pass or Thui An treks often follow it, depending on whether you’re heading back to Gilgit or towards Chitral.
The US AMS topographic maps Baltit (NJ 43-14) and Mastuj (NJ 43 -13) cover the trek. No settlements east of the pass are labeled.
Guides and Porters
The route is fairly obvious so a local guide isn’t necessary. Porters use donkeys to carry their loads. The rate is per donkey for 5okg. The rate for a fully- loaded donkey equals the wages for two 25kg porter loads. If you have less than 50kg, try negotiating a lower rate.
When you combine this trek with the Punji Pass trek, hire porters for both passes from either Pakora or Asumbar. That way, the porters end up in the Iskhoman Valley just one stage away from their homes, minimizing wapasi.
Stages are not universally fixed, but four stages seems appropriate. Trekkers who pay three stages may have problems because the distance is difficult for trekkers, porters and donkeys to cover comfortably in three days (ie, three stages).
GETTING TO/FROM THE TREK
To the Start
Gilgit- Asumbar jeeps and depart from Wad- din Transport service on Gilgit’s Punial Rd. Alternatively, you can try to find a jeep from Gakuch or Chatorkhand to Asumbar. A daily NATCO bus From Gilgit to Chatorkhand (5½ hours), a half- day walk from the trailhead, departs from Gilgit’s Punial Rd at 11am. Gilgit- Asumbar special hires.
When you precede this trek with the Pakora Pass trek, you can walk 3.4km between Pakora and Asumbar on the road in one hour. From Pakora, head north to the bridge over the Iskhoman River and Cross to its true right bank. The trailhead is at the bridge over the Asumbar Nala Along its true right bank.
From the Finish
Dal Sandhi- Gilgit jeeps. Special hires. Alternatively, walk 4km south to Taus and take the daily NATCO bus to Gilgit.
When following this trek with the Punji Pass trek, you need to get from Dal Sandhi to Darkot. Jeeps come infrequently to Dal Sandhi, so to find one walk 4km south to Taus or 7km north to Barkulti (two hours). Barkulti- Darkot Jeeps and take two hours. Special Hires Barkulti- Darkot, Dal Sandhi- Darkot, and Yasin- Darkot. If you can’t find a vehicle, plan two days to walk 25km between Dal Sandhi and Darkot.
Day 1 : Asumbar to Lower Charinj
4- 6 hours, 8.4km, 270m ascent
The lower Asumbar Valley can be very hot and dry in summer; carry water and enjoy the shady places along the river. From Asumbar village (2910m), climb steadily up the Asumbar Nala’s true right (south) bank passing fields and in one hour reach the first of four footbridges. Cross to the true left bank and in 15 minutes cross the second footbridge, an enormous boulder, back to the true right bank. Climb steeply 45 minutes passing corn fields to a silty streams from the south. A Gujar‘s house with a large willow sits across the stream. Continue 15 minutes and cross the third footbridge to the true left bank. Springs along the trail here provide the only clear water until Charinj.
Ahead is a dark rock pile, 100m high, known as Shah Dheri (black rocks). Continue along the now- forested stream around Shah Dheri in 30 minutes. Back downvalley are good views of Pakora Gol. Reach the fourth footbridge in another 15 minutes and get the first views upvalley towards the pass, Golomir, 15 minutes farther, is an open and grassy, but rocky and shadeless, field. In 30 minutes pass above Tokun Kuch, an inviting forest with flat, grassy areas along both banks of the river. Tokun Kuch means the place where grass grew up to the bottom of the horse’s saddle blanket (tokun). The only water, however, is silty river water. Continue high above the true right bank 15 minutes to a beautiful chir pine forest called Charinj. This is great camp site with lots of level, grassy fields, and a series of clear streams running through the forest. Gujars have conical huts here, but in midsummer, they’re usually vacant. This area is also called Lower Charinj (3180m) and Zokhine war by the Wakhi speakers who live father upvalley.
Day 2 : Lower Charinj to Upper Borta Bort
3¾ – 4 hours. 8km, 810m ascent
Continue through the dense stand of trees 15 minutes to the first of five side streams that flow in from the south. Ford this large stream and climb 30 minutes past a few huts high above the river to Upper Charinj. Continue past junipers and tall birches and pass above the tree line to reach Wakhikandeh, a year- round Wakhi settlement with three households. Just past the houses, cross a footbridge over the second side stream. This large side valley leads south across a 4500m ridge where two routes diverge: one route crosses the Asumbar An (4800m) to Darmodar Gah; and the other descends the Daeen Gol to Daeen village in the Iskhoman Valley , across the river from Chatorkhand. Although it’s longer for them, Daeen villagers prefer walking along the road to Asumbar village and then up the Asumbar Valley to Charinj rather than crossing this steep pass. A few Gujar huts are across this large side stream. Reach a third stream and more Gujar settlements in 30 minutes. The trail begins a steady climb, contouring up the rocky hillside past scrub junipers, to emerge after one hour in a pasture. This is Borta Bort, an area which gets its name from the huge boulder visible upvalley. The pass is visible far ahead.
Four houses also called Borta Bort, lie 15 minutes ahead, and are inhabited by one Isma’ ili household from Shonas and three Gujar households from Asumbar. Women here wear tall pillbox- style hats.
Continue, passing several large scree slopes and more huts on the river’s opposite side, and in 30 minutes come to a large alluvial fan and the fourth stream. A possible camp lies across this side stream, but a better camp site is 30 minutes ahead. Cross over a grassy Knoll, with huts below its west side (beware of dogs), and cross a silty glacial side stream via a footbridge. Climb through flower- filled meadows along clear, spring- fed streams. Camp below large boulders at Upper Borta Bort (3990m) and enjoy spectacular views to the east. The Hayal Pass, Shani (5887m), Twin peaks (5798m and 5700m) and distant Rakaposhi (7788m) are visible.
Day 3 : Upper Borta Bort to Mayur
5½ hours, 10.6km, 570m ascent, 930m descent
The trail Continues through the boulder field 45 minutes to a broad grassland called Jinali (polo ground in Khowar), a possible, although less desirable, high camp. Porters prefer staying in huts near Borta Bort. Ahead are two low points (passes) on either side of a hill. The route goes over the northern low point. The southern one is steep on the west side, passes close to an icefall, and cannot be crossed by donkeys. Cross Jinali, fording a silty side stream, and follow the river’s north (right) fork past springs 45 minutes to the base of the hill leading to the pass.
Ascend over grass one hour to the gentle flower- carpeted Asumbar Haghost (4560m). Rakaposhi and Diran (7257m) peaks to the east and the peaks of the high Hindu Kush to the west are visible.
Snowy patches lie just below and west of the pass. Descend for one hour, following a clear willow- lined stream to meadows. Continue north (right) on a trail, skirting willows. Cross the clear side stream from Asumbar peak to the north, above its confluence with the milky main streams, and continue past small springs to the huts of Ji Shawaran (polo ground in Shina), two hours below the pass, which is visible from this spot.
Cross a footbridge to the river’s true left (south) bank, and head downvalley. Cross a low rise with two cairns on it to a large unnamed pond, visible from the pass, 45 minutes from Ji Shawaran. The slightly green water is deep enough for a swim and this is a possible camp site. A better camp site is 45 minutes farther, through extensive junipers, at Mayur (3630m). Springs abound below the huts along the clear river from the south. This river is the route over Darmodar Haghost.
Day 4 : Mayur to Dal Sandhi
5½- 6 hours, 17.7km, 930m descent
The main trail follows the Asumbar River’s true left bank, although another trail goes along It’s true bank through three areas cultivated by Burusho from Sandhi. In one hour, reach Gamas, a huge cultivated area bisected by a large side stream, high above the main river’s south bank. Below Gamas, cross a footbridge to the true right bank where the trail stays to Dal Sandhi. After 30 minutes reach the start of Haghost An. When villagers irrigated this land and brought it under cultivation, they changed its name from Chucho Ano Tok (in Khowar, chucho means ‘dry place’; ano, the ‘top of’) to Haghost An. Burusho, however, refer to it as Bay Haghost.
At Haghost An’s west end, descend steeply to tall willows along the river, then continue more gradually downvalley on a good trail. Pass Bericho Batan, where low status Bericho people used to live, and ford a clear side stream. Descend the broad valley to Dal Sandhi (2700m), 2½ hours from Haghost An. You can camp in a lovely village orchard.