Hunza, Nagar,

Rush Phari

Duration 5 days
Distance 36.3km
Standard demanding
Season Mid-June-September
Start/Finish Hoper
Zone and Permit open, no permit
Public Transport no
Summary Incredible views of distant k2, Baintha Brak, the Hispar La and close ups of the Hispar Muztagh’s giants make this a truly unforgettable trek.

 

Rush Phari (4694m) is a turquoise lake on a ridge between the Hispar Valley and Barpu Glacier with incredible mountain panoramas. In a 360- degree sweep, almost all the giant peaks of Hunza are visible and, remarkably, a distant K2 (8611m), Broad Peak (8047m) and Gasherbrum IV (7925m) can also be seen. The strenuous two- day 1500m climb to the lake is done in conjunction with the Barpu Glacier trek. Because of the rapid elevation gain and the high altitude at Rush Phari, do this trek only when previously acclimatized. No options for alternative camp sites exist due to lack of water, so if you experience symptoms of altitude sickness, descend to Phahi Phari or Bericho Kor immediately.

PLANNING

Maps   

Refer to the Maps section for the Barpu Glacier trek (p). Trails from Bericho Kor to the ridge and from Rush Phari to Phahi Phari aren’t shown on the Swiss map. Chidin Harai and Huru aren’t labeled.

Guides and Porters

See Guider and Porters under the Barpu Glacier trek (p). Porters need bedding and shelter for the night at Rush Phari, which can be windy and cold. The descent from Rush Phari to Phahi Phari isn’t obvious, so take someone who knows the route. When you go via Gutens, hire some to carry water.

Stages

The trek described here totals eight stages round trip from Hoper: (1) Lower Shishkin; (2) Barpugram; (2½) Bericho Kor, half a stage; (2½-4) Rush Phari; 1½ Stages; (5) Phahi Phari; (6) Barpugram, with Bericho Kor being half a stage; (7) Lower Shishkin; and (8) Hoper.

Two alternative, though less desirable, trails lead to Rush Phari. One leaves the Barpu Glacier at Barpugram (see the Barpu Glacier trek,), climbing the hillside to Gutens, a summer settlements. From Gutens, the trail follows the ridge and joins the trail from Bericho Kor below Chidin Harai. By June, water in Gutens dries up, marking these alternative trails dry and undesirable. From Barpugram, it’s two stages one way to Rush Phari: (1) Gutens; and (2) Rush Phari. The second trail climbs steeply from Huru in the Hispar Valley to Gutens. From Huru, it’s also two stages one way to Rush Phari: (1) Gutens; and (2) Rush Phari.

NEAREST VILLAGE

See Hoper (p).

GETTING TO/FROM THE TREK

The trailhead is at the road’s end in Hoper.

The Trek

Day 1 : Hoper to Bericho Kor

4-5 hours, 10.8km, 510m ascent

Once leaving Hoper, no reliable water is available until Bericho Kor. Carry water and start early to avoid midday heat. From Hoper (2790m), descend steeply to the Bualtar Glacier’s edge. The crossing is relatively short, but the constantly moving Bualtar Glacier is icy and broken, and has no fixed route. It can take anywhere from 30 minutes to three hours to cross.

At Lower Shishkin on the glacier’s opposite side, the trail divides. The higher trail heads south- east to Upper Shishkin along the Barpu Glacier’s south- west margin. Take the lower trail east to an obvious notch and the first views of the Barpu Glacier. The Barpu is more stable than the Bualtar, but just as bleak. Cross it on a consolidated trail in 45 minutes to the ablation valley on its south- east margin with views of Diran to the west, Spantik to the south, and Ultar Peak and Bubulimating to the north. Tagaphari is a dry, barren place in the long ablation valley. Before the Barpu Glacier retreated more than 20 years ago, Tagaphari was well watered and green. Reach Barpugram, the first huts, 30 minutes from the start of the ablation valley. Barpugram’s water source is snow melt, unreliable after May. Two trails lead up the hillside behind Barpugram: the north- west one goes to Fetingish in the Hispar Valley; and the south- east one leads to Gutens, an alternative route to Rush Phari (see the Rush Phari Trek,).

The ablation valley narrows and larger junipers and wild roses appear. One hour from Barpugram, reach the huts and pastures of Mulharai where tamarisks offer shade. Just beyond in the grassy camp site of Bericho Kor (3300m) where a porters’ shelter hugs a boulder, 5.5km from Tagaphari. Bericho are musicians, and Kor means ‘cave’. A trickle of water runs through the camp site, but its larger source is a few minutes above camp.

Day 2 : Bericho Kor to Chidin Harai

4½-5½ hours, 4.1km, 1140m ascent

The climb is relentlessly steep, hot and dry, with no water until Chidin Harai, so carry as much water as you can from Bericho Kor. Start early to reach the ridge top before the sun hits it. Head east from Bericho Kor (3300m) behind two large boulders. The trail rises steadily, north (left) of the scree gully descending from the ridge. Climb 2½ to four hours through artemisia, thyme and scattered junipers to the ridge top, marked by a cairn (4020m). The trail from Gutens joins this trail at the cairn. The icy Miar Glacier below snowy Phuparash and Diran dominates the westward views.

Continue east- south- east up the grassy ridge one to 1½ hours to Chidin Harai. A faint trail follows a rocky canal, which may be dry. Chidin Harai (4440m) has a goat pen, a few herders’ huts and grassy areas for camping. Year-round water flows five minutes above the huts. Chidin means a ’rounded cast-iron cooking pot’, named for the shape of this harai (pasture). Chidin Harai enjoys late afternoon light and is a perfect spot to enjoy sunset and sunrise on the imposing Hispar Muztagh to the north- east. This wall of peaks Includes: Lupgar Sar (7200m); Momhil Sar (7343m); Trivor (7728m); Mulungutti Sar (7025m); and Destaghil Sar (7885m).

Day 3 : Chidin Harai to Rush Phari  

1½ hours, 2.1km, 254m ascent

Head up the left side of the rocky slope above the water source. Towards the top of the slope, before it makes an obvious bend to the left, cross right to avoid talus and reach a Barpu Glacier overlook one hour above Chidin Harai. Turn south- east and cross the talus. Keep to the right of the stream and to the left of the unnamed rocky peak. Cross a low rise and reach Rush Phari (4694m) in 30 minutes. Although stone shelters are on the west shore, the less windy camp sites are along the south- west lakeshore. Enjoy the views of the Miar Glacier, Spantik, Diran and Phuparash. Two unclimbed 6000m to 6200m peaks to the south are visible behind the rocky Rush Peak.

Side Trip : Rush Peak

4 hours, 404m ascent, 404m descent

Nowhere else in the Karakoram can you get such magnificent mountain views on such a short trek, sweeping from the nearby 7500m peaks of the Hispar Muztagh to the 8000m giants of the Baltoro Muztagh, than from Rush Peak.

From Rush Phari’s south shore, walk up the flower-covered slope for one hour to a hilltop (4938m) with a cairn and several tent platforms, but no water. From here, the distant pyramid of K2 is visible to the east. The best views, however, are from the summit of Rush Peak (5098m). From the cairn, follow the northern ridge, then ascend easy Class 2 talus to the rocky summit, also marked by a cairn. From here, K2 is dramatically larger, Broad Peak and Gasherbrum IV are visible, and Baintha Brak looms above the Hispar La.

Day 4 : Rush Phari to Phahi Phari

2-3 hours, 4.4km, 1244m descent

The descent to Phahi Phar is relentlessly steep. From the stone shelters and cairns along the lake, an obvious gully descends towards the Barpu Glacier. The route stays right of the gully, traversing talus then descending juniper and grassy slopes and more steeply over artemisia steppes. Views of the Sumayar Bar and Miar glaciers, and the Malubiting and Phuparash peaks are awesome. Phahi Phari (3450m) has reliable water and shade.

Day 5 : Phahi Phari to Hoper

5-6 hours, 14.9km, 660m descent

See Days 1-2 of the Barpu Glacier trek, in reverse, for details.

 

    

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