Baltistan,

Gondogoro Valley

Duration 9 days
Distance 50.2km
Standard demanding
Season Mid-July-September
Start/Finish Hushe
Zone and Permit restricted, US$50 permit
Public Transport yes
Summary This challenging trek up one of Karakoram’s most spectacular valleys crosses an impressive glacier and passes astounding icefalls and enchantingly peaks.

 

Gondogoro Valley was long used for grazing by Hushe-pa. Now that it’s a popular trekking destination, the Hushe-pa no longer use it for grazing, because tourism brings a better economic return. Beautiful camp sites, remarkable mountain views and the major attractions of Gondogoro Peak

 

Peak Possibilities

Gondogoro Peak

Accessible from Xhuspang (Day 5)

Gondogoro Peak (5650m) lies on the ridge between the two branches of the upper Gondogoro Glacier. The summit has excellent views of Masherbrum and Chogolisa (7665m, also known as Bride Peak), peaks not visible from the Gondogoro La. This single-day, straightforward technical peak involves 970m ascent/descent and requires a pre-dawn start. From Xhuspang, head north (left) and behind the granite prow. Work up the slope, then onto glacier and ascend the snow slope to the summit. Plan to return to camp before noon, otherwise the snow will be too soft.

 

and the Gondogoro La are the reasons for this popularity. The route up the Gondogoro Valley is steep, but straightforward as far as Daltsampa, beyond which is a tricky traverse of the Gondogoro Glacier.

PLANNING

Maps 

The Swiss Foundation for Alpine Research 1:250,000 orographical map Karakoram (Sheet 2) covers the trek. Shaishcho is labeled as Chospah. No other camp sites are labeled. The route shown up the middle of the Gondogoro Glacier is incorrect. It inaccurately shows a side glacier from Peak 6294 flowing west into the Gondogoro Glacier. The glacier has evidently receded and now only a stream flows into the glacier at Gondogoro Camp.

Permits and Regulations   

This trek is in a restricted zone where a permit and licensed guide are required (see Trekking Permits,).

Stages 

It’s eight stages total round trip from Hushe: (1) Shaishcho; (2) Gondogoro Camp; (3) Daltsampa; (4) Xhuspang; and (5-8) four stages to return via the same route.

GETTING TO/FROM THR TREK

See Hushe (p).

THE TREK

Day 1 : Hushe to Shaishcho

4 hours, 9.3km, 280m ascent

A good trail follows the Hushe River’s true left bank north from Hushe village. Two hours from the village, the Aling and Masherbrum rivers join the combined Gondogoro and Tsarak Tsa rivers to form the Hushe River. The trail, with sheer granite cliffs above, fords a side stream and comes soon to the summer settlement of Odungstan. Another clear stream is 15 minutes farther, and soon the valley bends east. Continue 30 to 45 minutes, cross a footbridge to the true right (north) bank, and in 15 minutes reach Shaishcho (sha means ‘meat’; cho, a ‘ruler’). Shaishcho was the place where the Raja of Khaplu came and ate ibex, brought to this place by his hunters. Shaishcho (3330m) has good water and lots of flat, sandy camp sites amid tamarisks, wild roses and junipers along the river. The camping fee at either of two sites: Shaishcho Inn, run by Abdullah Kosar; or K7 Inn and camping, which is run by Mohammad Ali Chana. Both stock food and supplies, prepare meals and rent and sell equipment.

Day 2 : Shaishcho to Gondogoro Camp

2-3 hours, 3.9km, 620m ascent

Follow a good trail north one to 1½ hours through the ablation valley on the Gondogoro Glacier’s east side to Astor (3750m) with a side stream from the east. This flat grassy expanse has lots of water, willows and junipers. Continue gradually through the ablation valley one to 1½ hours to the next side stream and Gondogoro Camp (3950m). A big rock marks the spot and a few huts are across the stream. Camp here to acclimatize. Up this side stream and glacier is the distinctive rock spire of Balti Peak (point 6050 on the Swiss map).

Days 3-4 : Gondogoro Camp to Daltsampa

3-4 hours, 5.1km, 350m ascent

Follow a good trail in the ablation valley one to 1½ hours to Golong, a nice lunch spot marked by a large boulder and a stream coming from Golong Peak. Balti Peak is prominent to the south. Landslides have wiped out the trail beyond Golong. At the end of the flat area, drop to the glacier’s edge and continue 1.5km over rubble one hour. Watch for rock fall. Climb a hillside to a pasture where unattended male yaks graze. Continue 30 to 45 minutes to lovely Daltsampa, sheltered in an ablation valley. A clear stream runs through gorgeous meadows with two small lakes at the south end. Daltsampa (4300m), the valley’s most beautiful camp site, deserves an extra day for acclimatization and to marvel at the incredible icefall from the Masherbrum La and enjoy the meadows, stream and lakes.

Days 5-6 : Daltsampa to Xhuspang   

3½-4½ hours, 6.8km, 380m ascent

The Gondogoro Glacier bends east beyond Daltsampa, and the trail ends at the glacier’s heavily broken south margin in 30 minutes. The point at which you cross onto the glacier changes from year to year. Once on the glacier, the massive granite prow above Xhuspang, 5km away, is your obvious landmark. Work up an ice band until opposite Laila’s north-east face, then cross a medial moraine left to a second ice band. Follow this until 1½ to two hours after getting on the glacier. You work left across two medial moraines, one brown, the other rust-coloured, to a more level ice band. Follow this 45 minutes to the medial moraine where the Gondogoro Glacier splits. Cross the moraine, and skirts a shallow moraine late to Xhuspang (4680m), directly beneath flowered meadows and the large, steep-walled granite prow above the confluence of the glacier’s two large branches. A small shop sells basic supplies such as flour and kerosene. Spend at least one day at Xhuspang to enjoy the meadows above and the views of Laila. From here, you can also climb Gondogoro Peak (see the boxed text’ Peak Possibilities’,).

Side Trip : Gondogoro La     

1 day, 9.4km, 1260m ascent, 1260m descent

The ascent to the Gondogoro La is higher and more difficult than that of Gondogoro Peak. It requires climbing gear and a predawn start from Gondogoro High Camp. From the pass is an unforgettable view of all the giant peaks at the Baltoro Glacier’s head. Be careful of rock fall. See the Gondogoro La trek (p) for more information.

Days 7-9 : Xhuspang to Hushe

3 days, 25.1km, 1630m descent

Retrace your steps downvalley, camping at Daltsampa on Day 7 and Shaishcho on Day 8.

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