Baltistan,

Masherbrum Base Camp

Duration 4 days
Distance 31km
Standard moderate
Season Mid-June-September
Start/Finish Hushe
Zone and Permit restricted, US$50 permit
Public Transport yes
Summary One of the easiest and quickest treks to the base camp of a Karakoram giant, this trek has superb close-up views of Masherbrum.

 

A relatively easy trek leads straight towards the foot of mighty Masherbrum (7821m) with excellent views. This shirt trek into the heart of the Karakoram is recommended by itself or as acclimatization before tackling higher destinations in the Gondogoro Valley. The only glacier walking is a straightforward 30-minute section before base camp. An alternative route (see Alternative Days 4-6,), which is in a restricted zone, is useful when continuing up the Gondogoro Valley or on to K7 Base Camp.

PLANNING

Maps

The Swiss Foundation for Alpine Research 1:250,000 orographical map Karakoram (Sheet 2) covers the trek. No place names are marked except Dumsum, which is misplaced. The trail beyond Dumsum isn’t shows. The glacier shown descending from Cathedral Peak, locally called the Drenmo Glacier, doesn’t join the Masherbrum Glacier.

Stages      

It’s stages total round trip from Hushe: (1) Parbisan; (2) Brumbrama; (3) Masherbrum Base Camp; (4-6) three stages to return via the same route. Alternatively, it’s eight stages total when looping back via Shaishcho. The five return stages starting from Mashabrum Base Camp are: (1) Brumbrama; (2) Darya Chowk; (3) Tir Sir; (4) Shaishcho; and (5) Hushe.

GETTING TO/FROM THE TREK

See Hushe (p).

THE TREK

Day 1 : Hushe to Parbisan

2-2½ hours, 6.9km, 425m ascent

Cross the Hushe River on either of two footbridges. The lower footbridge, directly west of the village, leads to a trail along the Hushe River’s true right (west) bank. It crosses the Honbrok stream and ascends through fields past stone huts used to store fodder. A rockier trail stays above the river’s east side. In 45 minutes, this trail crosses the higher footbridge and joins the trail along the west bank. Huts at Wesuk are 45 minutes farther. Cross the Aling River on a footbridge 30 minutes from Wesuk, with a shaded clear stream 10 minutes beyond near Dumsum summer village. Follow the stony river bed 45 minutes farther to Parbisan (3475m), a pretty willow grove with a clear spring at the base of a talus slope. Across the river from Parbisan, cliffs tower overhead. Just south of the cliffs is a small, steep side valley called Kyipotama. The name derives from an abandoned hunting practice. Since the steep walls offer no exit, in winter hunters used to send (tama) dogs (kyipo) to drive ibex into the valley where they proved easy game.

Day 2 : Parbisan to Brumbrama      

2-2½ hours, 4.1km, 575m ascent

Head along the river’s true right bank 30 minutes towards the Masherbrum Glacier’s terminus. Cross a side stream from the west and switchback steeply 60m up a faint trail, marked by an occasional cairn in 15 to 30 minutes. At the top, follow a trail parallel to the lateral moraine 30 minutes, passing a baghath (a rock wall built to keep animals from crossing to the other side), to Pushuka (little river). Cross to its true left bank via a snow bridge through July, after which you hop rocks. This river is not so little, and parallels the lateral moraine up the Drenmo Nala. Climb gently, but steadily, 45 minutes to a rise on the lateral moraine, which is covered with flowers and shrubs and offers excellent views of the upper Masherbrum Glacier and Masherbrum itself. Descend gently 15 minutes to the basin called Brumbrama (4050m), which gets its name from brama, a ubiquitous shrub.  A stream runs through this flat, grassy, sometime marshy, ablation valley. Hushe herders use these pastures mid-July to mid-August. Otherwise, unattended male yaks roam the surrounding hillsides. The Drenmo (Bear) Glacier descends the side valley west of the grassy pastures of Brumbrama from Cathedral Peak.

On the glacier’s south margin where the river issues from its mouth is a large mound with scattered junipers called Drenmo Saspoon said to have been made by a very large bear.

Day 3 : Brumbrama to Masherbrum Base Camp    

1½-2 hours, 4.5km, 230m ascent

Follow a trail up the ablation valley. Contour the hillside and cross the outwash stream from an upper ablation valley 15 minutes from Brumbrama. Climb Masherbrum Glacier’s lateral moraine on a good trail 10 minutes to huts at Chogospnag (big meadow). Continue up the ablation valley 15 minutes, contouring along the lateral moraine to another meadow. Climb the moraine of a side glacier, descend to the glacier covered with white rock and cross it in 30 minutes. Masherbrum Base Camp (4280m) is just beyond in a meadow with a small pool by the moraine.

Day 4 : Masherbrum Base Camp to Hushe 

5-6 hours, 15.5km, 1230m descent

Return to Hushe via the same route.

Alternative Route : Masherbrum Base Camp to Hushe

This three-day restricted- zone-route is useful when contouring up the Gondogoro Valley or on to K7 Base Camp.

Alternative Day 4 : Masherbrum Base Camp to Darya Chowk

4 hours, 10.4km, 1080m descent

Descend along the Masherbrum Glacier’s west margin to Pushuka. Cross to the glacier’s east margin from just above Pushuka. Descend along the river’s true left bank to Darya Chowk, opposite the confluence of the Gondogoro and Aling rivers.

Alternative Day 5 : Darya Chowk to Shaishcho

6-7 hours, 5km, 130m ascent

Follow the Gondogoro River’s true right bank to pastures at Tir Sir. Cross the Gondogoro Glacier above its mouth (the river is too big to ford), and descend to Shaishcho (3330m).

Alternative Day 6 : Shaishcho to Hushe 

4 hours, 9.3km, 280m descent

See Day 1 of the Gondogoro Valley trek, following it in reverse.

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