|Zone and Permit||restricted, US$50 permit|
|Summary||Tirich Mir, the Hindu kush’s highest peak, rises above a vast wilderness of glaciers and 20 other impressive 7000m summits, making this a trek into the very centre of the high Hindu kush.|
Tirich Valley, a long, western branch of the Turikho Valley, leads towards the base of the highest Hindu Kush peaks; Noshaq, Istor-o- Nal and Tirich Mir. The popular trek to Tirich Mir Base Camp traverses the Lower Tirich Glacier, so experience with glacier travel is helpful. The base camp is known locally as Babu Camp, named after Babu Mohammad, a veteran guide who, when not on trek, can be found at Chitral’s Mountain Inn. Reminiscent of the Baltoro Glacier trek, but much shorter and less demanding, this trek delights fans of big mountains and mighty glaciers.
What to Bring
Mountaineering equipment necessary to travel in roped teams is optional, but may be helpful for a short icy section (see Mountaineering Equipment,).
The US AMS 1:250,000 topographic map Mastuj (NJ 43- 13) and 1:253, 440 topographic Map Zebak (J- 42 X) cover the trek. Udren Gol is labeled as Atrak Gol, but villagers say that the map mistakenly names this major side valley. Sherniak is labeled Shekhniyak, and the trail and camp sites beyond Bandok are not shown.
Permits and Regulations
This trek is in a restricted zone where a permit and licensed guide are required (see Trekking permits,).
Guides and porters
Porters ask for a flat rate per stage, including payment for food rations. They also ask for the clothing and equipment allowance. Small parties or those with loads less than 25kg may be able to negotiate a compromise. No huts exist on this route and deforestation is evident at Sherniak, the last available wood source, so provide porters with shelters, stoves and fuel.
Because numerous mountaineering expeditions visit the Tirich Valley, the stage system applies. Fortunately, the stages correspond to reasonable walking days. It’s eight stages total round trip from Shagrom: (1) Sherniak; (2) Shoghor Biasun; (3) Istor-o- Nal; and (4) Babu Camp; and four stages (5- 8) to returns via the same route. The start of the first stage is referred to as Shagrom, but it means the large, shaded area along the river 30 minutes below the village where large parties camp.
GETTING TO/FROM THE TREK
Chitral- Shagrom jeeps and special hires. Jeeps to Tirich and Turikho have no fixed sarai in Chitral, so ask at the Mastuj sarai just north of Ataliq Bridge or at the jeep workshop behind the petrol pump across from the PTDC Chitral Motel.
Jeeps coming from Chitral take 14 hours, but jeeps down do it in nine hours (usually departing Shagrom at 4am). Jeeps don’t go on Friday and depart only every three or four days. You can also take any jeep going to Turikho and get off at Warkup, cross the bridge to Zindrauli and wait for a jeep going up Tirich Valley, or walk. It’s quicker, less expensive and more fun to walk over Zani An to Shagrom.
Day 1 : Shagrom to Sherniak
3½ – 5 hours, 12.5km, 780m ascent
Follow the Trail out of Shagrom (2760m) through willow groves. Beyond them lie several ponds, built by Shagrom villagers to attract migratory ducks, which visit in spring and fall, when Shagrom men sneak up behind the rock walls of the ponds, poke shotguns through small holes in the walls and fire away. Hunting is great sport in Tirich.
Beyond these ponds cross a wooden Footbridge to the Tirich Gol’s true right bank, one hour from the village. After another 15 minutes on a level trail through dry, rocky terrain is the confluence (2880m) of the Tirich Gol and Udren Gol, which leads to the north- east sides of Istor-o- Nal and Noshaq (see Udren under other treks,). Gradually ascend the main valley for 30 minutes to some springs. Water also flows here from cultivated moraine terrace above. Cross a gully, usually choked with snow until July, and after 30 minutes come to the fields and summer huts of Shahgol (3150m). Kono Zom is the prominent rocky peak ahead.
Follow the good trail for 15 minutes, ascending slightly to more huts at Bandok. Beyond Bandok, a narrow valley called Adren Atak heads south (left). Reportedly, a difficult pass at its head leads to Owir. Cross the Adren Atak stream to the highest huts of Romen Kulum in 15 minutes. When Tirich Gol is swollen by glacial melt, the trail climbs the scree slope 50m above the true right bank and contours high to reach Sherniak in one hour. Before July, follow the river, crossing and recrossing it over snow bridges to reach the birch and willow grove at Sherniak (3540m).
Days 2- 3 : Sherniak to Shoghor Biasun
5- 6 hours, 6. 5km, 498m ascent
A small trail goes through willow stands, under a rock perched over two large boulders, and climbs the Lower Tirich Glacier’s terminal Moraine one hour from Sherniak. From here, follow the true right bank of the main outwash stream. Head towards the glacier’s north side near its snout. Beyond the snout, ascend onto the moraine and move up the glacier, working towards its north margin. A large channel can be difficult to cross in midsummer. The ice slope on its up- glacier side is steep and slippery, and the use of a rope here may be warranted for safety. Ascend the ice slope and reach more level moraine. The route continues up the glacier’s north margin, past a prominent lateral moraine from a northern side stream. In the glacier’s centre, across from this side stream, are white seracs. Stay close to the north margin. Shoghor Biasun (4038m) is just beyond and west of the large mound of moraine. Leave the glacier and descend into camp. Shoghor Biasun (sandy base) has the best views of Tirich Mir and Lower Tirich Glacier. The peak is obscured by the time you reach Babu Camp. Spend Day 3 here for acclimatization.
Day 4 : Shoghor Biasun to Babu Camp
5-7 hours, 10km, 686m ascent
The route to Babu Camp stays in an ablation valley and doesn’t go out on the Upper Tirich Glacier. Follow the crest of an old lateral moraine to Istor-o- Nal Base Camp (4267m), a good lunch spot. Continue another two to three hours to Babu Camp (4724m). You may want to spend an extra day or two to explore the area.
Days 5- 6 : Babu Camp to Shagrom
2 days, 29km, 1964m descent
Retrace your steps down valley to Shagrom, Camping at Sherniak on Day 5.