Trip report for K2 Base Camp & Gondogoro La treks (Pakistan) in July 2022

Written by Roland Hunter FRGS (Mt Everest and Mt Makalu summitter)
Written by Roland Hunter FRGS (Mt Everest and Mt Makalu summitter)Managing Director & Founder, The Mountain Company

In July 2022 we organised our 12th & 13th treks to K2 Base Camp in Pakistan since 2006. Our first departure this Summer was a private group to K2 Base Camp & Concordia led by Natalie Wilson. Our second group was our open departure group for K2 Base Camp & Concordia and K2 Base Camp & Gondogoro La. Their leader was Rachel Ashwell. Seven members went with Rachel out over the Gondogoro La high pass to Hushe village. The rest of them trekked to K2 Base Camp and then walked back down the Baltoro. We also had two trekkers that split off and walked up to the Gasherbrum Base Camps.

As ever the welcome in Pakistan this Summer was very warm and friendly. We are grateful for the hard work from our team in Islamabad and Baltistan. A heartfelt "Shukriya" (thank you in Urdu) to our Pakistani guides, cooks, and porters. In Rachel’s group, we would like to say thanks to Hussain, Bashir (Gondogoro La guide), Shabbir (Baltoro guide). In Natalie’s group, thanks goes to Akbar Hussain, Akbar Ali, and Zulphi.

There was heavy rain and flash flooding in the northern areas of Pakistan in early July. This caused damage to bridges on the jeep track to Askole. Since our last K2 Base Camp trek before the Covid pandemic a new jeep track extends beyond Askole to Jhola camp. However, the heavy rains damaged a bridge after Askole so it was not possible to drive to Jhola. In practice, this did not affect our trip too much but it involved vehicle changes along the way. The Baltis are experienced with dealing with extreme weather conditions. The locals put in new trails such as the one that went over the snout of the Biafo glacier. In several places, they rebuilt bridges to cross the rivers and streams.

With possible delays on the road to Askole and to Jhola, we made a decision to leave Skardu one day early. Our local team in Skardu did a good job in processing the paperwork for the trekking permits. After one night at Concordia Hotel, both of our groups started the jeep drive to Askole. In the end, this extra day was not needed for Rachel’s group. Both her Gondogoro La team and the Baltoro team arrived back in Skardu one day early after the trek.

Natalie sums up her experience leading the K2 Base Camp trek:

“This was an excellent and adventurous trek. All participants reached stunning Concordia then going on to visit Gilkey Memorial and K2 Basecamp before spending a night at Broad Peak Basecamp. Our local guide and crew were absolutely excellent and we were fed so well by Zulphi and his kitchen team.

There were so many highlights on this trip - in particular, we were blessed with amazing weather and vast views day after day. We had unexpected helicopter encounters, saw record-breaking paragliders flying over the highest peaks, watched people make steady progress up K2 and Broad Peak by night. We ate well, laughed a lot. We just loved being out in such a unique environment. It was hot!”

You can watch our leader, Natalie Wilson, being interviewed at Concordia by the YouTube channel Voice of Karakoram. Nat comes across well and makes some good points about trekking in Pakistan. What a location for an interview! The interviewer Fida Hussain was a trekking guide on one of the K2 Base Camp treks that I led back in 2007.

Rachel sums up her experience leading the K2 Base Camp & Gondogoro La trek:

“Certainly ‘adventure travel’ - an amazing journey through the Karakoram in Pakistan with a fair few challenges to navigate along the way! Assisted by an excellent local guiding team and thanks to a fantastic trekking group, we worked together and retained our adventurous spirit resulting in a highly successful journey up to the K2 basecamp and, for some of us, over Gondogoro La pass, enjoying incredible mountain scenery and local hospitality.”

We are delighted to receive some 5 Star AITO reviews from our K2 groups:

“A three-week trek to K2 Base Camp and over the Gondogoro Pass, superbly delivered by The Mountain Company. Great service throughout, with the pre-trip support particularly exceptional.” by Richard

“During July/August, 2022, as part of our project (Project Base8000) we trekked to four base camps with TMC - K2, Broad Peak, Gasherbrum 1/2. It was an amazing experience, great views, great crew and were all well looked after. There were no issues with security and would definitely consider going back to Pakistan in a heart beat. .

TMC is one of the best trekking companies going around - Roland is an excellent communicator and no question is difficult. His clear and concise communication and risk management is the best in the business. We’ve now undertaken 2 treks with TMC (Nepal and Pakistan) and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend TMC over some other companies.” by Trevor

Every year we get feedback from our groups about how trekking in Pakistan is very different from Nepal, Bhutan, and India. We do our best to educate people about this by writing trip reports on our website after our treks. We have a Blog article that highlights the main differences between trekking in Nepal and Pakistan. You can read this at Everest Base Camp in Nepal versus K2 Base Camp in Pakistan

We have also written a Blog article about the challenges of Gondogoro La and what experience is needed to cross safely. You can read How Difficult is Crossing the Gondogoro La pass on the K2 Base Camp trek? If you are considering trekking to K2 Base Camp you should read these articles to find out what to expect.

The Mountain Company will run both K2 Base Camp & Concordia and K2 Base Camp & Gondogoro La treks for July 2023. Please get in touch with us if you have any questions on the K2 Base Camp trek or to discuss your suitability and training.

Trek on!