Gojal,

Avdegar

Duration 2 days
Distance 13.4km
Standard moderate
Season May-October
Start/Finish Passu
Zone and Permit open, no permit
Public Transport yes
Summary Being at lofty Avdegar gives the feeling of looking down at immense glaciers and peaks from a helicopter, with the area’s amazing aerial-like views of the KKH and Passu far below.

 

Avdegar Passu’s winter yak Pasture, is east of and high above, the Hunza River. Avdegar’s fantastic, almost aerial views west to the Ghulkin, Passu and Batura glaciers and the peaks above them are the attraction. The trek to Avdegar is best undertaken as an overnight trip, but can be done as a very strenuous eight- to 10- hour day trek. Fitness and previous acclimatization are necessary for this relentlessly steep route that rapidly gains elevation.

PLANNING

Maps  

No maps exist that cover this trek, but the Swiss Foundation for Alpine Research 1:250,000 orographical map Karakoram (Sheet 1) shows the general area. It locates Yashbandan village incorrectly; it’s on the Hunza River’s true right (west) bank. Hussaini is labeled as Sesoni, the village’s old name. Kharamabad and Avdegar aren’t marked and the Avdegar Glacier is labeled as Abdigar and Dur Glacier.

Guides and Porters

Hiring a porter to carry your gear makes this a more pleasant trek and removes any uncertainties about finding water or locating the route.

Stages  

It’s four stages total round trip from Passu: (1) Kharamabad; (2) Avdegar; and (3-4) two stages to return via the same route.

GETTING TO/FROM THE TREK 

See Passu (p).

The Trek

Day 1 : Passu to Avdegar

5-7 hours, 6.7km, 1340m ascent

From Passu (2400m), walk south along the KKH 10 minutes past the Shisper View Hotel to the first hairpin bend. On the east (river) side of the KKH is the unsealed road to the small village of Yashbandan (the place for keeping horses), where the Mir of Hunza used to keep horses. The trailhead is 20m farther south.

Follow the trail that descends east from the KKH into a small valley, skirting the stone walls around Yashbandan’s fields, and continue up the other side of the valley. Looking back and to the right, is ‘Welcome to Passu’ in white letters on the hillside above the KKH. The well- used trail dips through rocky gullies as it heads south and east towards the Hunza River. In the second small gully, a boulder just east of the trail has ibex graffiti. The high- water trail, used from June to August, stays on the hillside above the river. In April, May, September and October, the low- water trail descends to cross the gravelly flood Plain in a more direct line to the footbridge. The high-water trail takes 30 minutes from the KKH to the footbridge, while the low water trail takes 20 minutes.

Villagers call the footbridge dut. It takes 10 minutes and more than 400 careful steps on narrow boards spaced 75cm apart to cross this suspension footbridge. This would be difficult, and may not be possible, for anyone who experiences vertigo. In high winds, the footbridge tilts radically and is impossible to cross. Winds can arise anytime and are especially common in the afternoon and in spring.

Across the footbridge where the trail emerges onto the plain, it forks; the left-hand trail goes north-east to Kharamabad, and the right-hand trail goes south-east to Zarabad (see Two Bridges under Other Treks,). To go to Avdegar, bear north-east and follow the path 2km and one hour to pleasant Kharamabad (2610m), where Passu villagers produce several fodder crops during summer and pasture sheep and goats during winter.

Go along the paths between houses on the west (lower) edge of the cultivated area. From the farthest small stone houses, continue over the open barren area, heading for the vegetation that lines an abandoned canal coming from the base of the Avdegar slope. No actual trail exists, but the open land makes for easy walking. If you stray too high in Kharamabad, you have to bushwhack through thorny scrub. Follow the abandoned canal to its end in the stream bed at the base of the slope (2670m), 1.5km and one to 1½ hours from Kharamabad.

The old trail to Avdegar started from the Upper end of the stream bed, where a small waterfall has worn a groove in the rock face and a willow tree stands. This trail was wiped out by rock fall in 1997, and now is a 20m-high Class 3 rock chute. Villagers use (and trekkers should too) a trail that starts several hundred metres farther west of (down from) the stream bed. The stream has year- round water, although you may have to walk up beyond the start of the correct trail to find water. Water above is Scarce.

This trail begins opposite the end of the abandoned canal. Ascend the dry, rocky, steep slope for one hour, climbing 300m to 400m over 1km as the trail works gradually east, to rejoin the abandoned trail at the top of the steepest section, just below the start of scattered juniper trees (3360m). Continue up steeply through scattered junipers, as the view of the peaks above Gulmit and Ghulkin grows more impressive.

Reach the more level pasture of Avdegar (3930m), marked by two cairns, in another 1½ hours, or three to five hours from Kharamabad. A small three-sided stone shelter lies a short way to the south, and level areas offer camp sites. Water comes from the stream in the gully to the south, which is hard to reach. In autumn, it can be dry.

The view is spectacular, with Shishpar dominating the Horizon, and stretches from Ultar’s north-side to Shishpar and Passu peaks at the Passu Glacier’s head, the tops of the Batura peaks behind Passu Sar, and the peaks at the Batura Glacier’s head in the distance, including Pamiri Sar (7016m). Morning sun lights the glaciers and the peaks of the Batura Muztagh nicely.

Side Trip : Avdegar Ridge Top

4-6 hours, 170m ascent, 170m descent

Even more perspective can be gained by ascending to the notch in the ridge above Avdegar, where a rock finger points up. The name Avdegar derives from this prominent rock (in Wakhi, videk means ‘the way’; gar, ‘stone’). From the first large grassy area, head north (left) and cross the first large scree slope into a grassy area. Then cross a smaller scree slope and ascend the grassy area beyond, switchbacking up the rock above the highest extent of grass. Passu yaks do this, which seems unlikely, but is true. The elevations on the ridge rise to 4100m. The views, however, from the pastures, below are superb and most trekkers don’t attempt the more rigorous climb to the ridge top. To visit the ridge top, it’s another two stages: one up, one down.

Day 2 : Avdegar to Passu

5-7 hours, 6.7km, 1340m descent

Return to Passu via the same route.

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