Together with seven Shimshali natives Michael (in the image) crossed the Karakorum from Shimshal to Baltoro, across Braldu and Muztagh valleys. He claims to be the first foreigner to get a glimpse of and K2s NW face from a position no one has seen before. On his trip in Terra Incognita, Beek also named three mountains and two mountain passes (click to enlarge).
The small team first walked up the Braldu, eventually crossing the Chikar river. Sadly our yaks couldnt make it to the other side, and had to return, Michael wrote (click to enlarge).
To the West rose three towering summits: Skyang Kangri (7,550m) also known as Staircase Peak (left), the smaller Shipton Peak (center), 6,640m, and K2 - showing its NW side - right in the image (click to enlarge).
The dry year allowed the team to walk for 10 days on the river bed, then climb the rock cliffs until Mehman and Alif found a pass 4,112 meters high - it was named Ali Mehman Pass (click to enlarge).
We had to trust our luck on difficult sections of the Sarpo-Lago glacier. We had supplies for four days and going back would have meant at least 14 days of trekking. So the only option was going on, and reach the Baltoro. (click to enlarge)
We followed the Sarpo-Lago glacier for one day and a half. July 30 we reached the edge of Muztagh Tower (in the image) and set camp at 4,625 meters (click to enlarge).
The climb to Moni Pass was easy, with a couple of outcrops, but otherwise nothing problematic. The passs height, according to five sat signals in my GPS, is 5,584m, which doesnt agree with the altitude shown in the Swiss Map.
"A new route across the Karakorum range was opened: From Shimshal to the Northwest side of K2, over the Muztagh pass to the Baltoro glacier," stated Michael. All images copyright and courtesy of Michael's website (click to enlarge).
From Shimshal to Baltoro: Michael Beek's new trekking route across the Karakorum
Posted: Mar 23, 2007 04:10 pm EDT
(K2Climb.net) "This is a new route and I'm still surprised about it," Bruno from Blankonthemap.com told ExplorersWeb about Michael's incredible trip. "Nobody has tried Moni Pass before, so it's a big surprise and a wonderful trek." German Michael Beek has been trekking in Pakistans mountain areas for 35 years. Through the years he has come to get to know the countrys people and landscapes very well. However, in July last year Michael went far off the beaten track. <cutoff>
Together with seven Shimshali natives Michael crossed the Karakorum from Shimshal to Baltoro, across Braldu and Muztagh valleys. He claims to have seen K2s NW face from an angle no other foreigner has enjoyed before. On his trip in Terra Incognita, Beek also named three mountains and two mountain passes.
The idea of doing this trek came after studying the work of the British pioneers, Michael told ExplorersWeb. Sir Francis Younghusband was the first foreigner who crossed the Shimshal Pass from Muztagh Valley, towards Hunza. Not many have followed his footprints since then though and according to Beek, no foreigner ever came with the idea of continuing from that pass, trying to find a way toward the Karakorum.
<b>Walking the line and staying out of China!</b>
In fact, Michael reports on several names, altitudes and borders being wrong in the Swiss maps. Instead, the German trekker used some satellite images and the stories that one of his Pakistani companions heard from his ancestors.
Another problem in such isolated areas is the unclear location of borderlines most of all when the neighboring country is China. Mainly, Beek was careful to remain within Pakistans boundaries at all times. Until 1964 the Chinese frontier was located west of Shuwert, but then the border was moved to Muztagh River, he said.
<b>I was the first foreigner to reach that point after Francis Younghusband</b>
On July 10 last year I reached Shimshal village with long-time friends Qurban and Alif, reports Michael in his expeditions debrief. Ali Rahman joined as guide for Shimshal, together with four porters. On July 16 we reached the 4,755m high Shimshal Pass.
The small team first walked up the Braldu, eventually crossing the Chikar river. Sadly our yaks couldnt make it to the other side, and had to return, Michael wrote.
On July 20, Michael reached where Braldu is joining the Muztagh river. A boundary stone signaled the Chinese Border on the other side of the river. I was the first foreigner to reach that point after Francis Younghusband, he noted in his diary.
<b>Gate to Muztagh Valley</b>
Remaining on the Pakistani side of the river, the group turned back and began looking for a pass leading towards Muztagh Valley. Mehman Khan, one of the porters, had heard of the existence of a pass from his great-grandfather Shambir, who had lived in the 19th century and apparently crossed it. Mehman Khan was eager to retrace the path of his ancestor. And so he did.
We found the pass Shambir had described, the 5,155m high Chindrikin-Wajeen Pass, Michael wrote. It was a difficult, steep climb, which got us exhausted. But it was also the gate to Muztagh Valley.
The dry year allowed the team to walk for 10 days on the river bed, then climb towards the rock cliffs until Mehman and Alif found a 4,112 meters high pass - which they named Ali Mehman Pass.
<b>K2 from a different angle</b>
On July 26 the troop reached a side valley, with a glacier running from the base of an unnamed peak between 6,500 and 7,000m tall. To the West rose three towering summits: Skyang Kangri (7,550m) also known as Staircase Peak, the smaller Shipton Peak, 6,640m, and K2 - showing its NW side.
They crossed the glacier river on the following morning and, following tracks of Qulans, (a rare species of wild asses apparently abundant in Muztagh Valley) reached the northern edge of Shaksgam Valley. This is the way taken from Mazar by the camel caravans to reach the base of K2s north side, Michael noted. We also saw a Chinese watching post in the distance.
<b>We would trust our luck the only option was going on</b>
The next two days were tough the team had to move across glaciers and moraines. Mehman didnt know the way from this point, Michael said. We only had my satellite maps, which showed a dark pyramid further south of us, which should be Muztagh Tower. But we didnt know if there would be a pass across the glacier to it.
We had to trust our luck. We had supplies for four days and going back would have meant at least 14 days of trekking. So the only option was going on, and reach Baltoro.
<b>Muztagh Tower and Moni Pass</b>
We followed the Sarpo-Lago glacier for one day and a half. Finally, the evening of July 30, we reached the edge of Muztagh Tower and set camp at 4,625 meters. The views were breathtaking. According to my satellite images we should reach the Baltoro the following day. We woke up at four, packed up and set off. By midday I was positive we were crossing the west flank of Muztagh Tower. From Muztagh Tower, according to my images, there was a way north which lead to a pass marked in the Swiss map as Moni Pass.
The climb to the pass was easy, with a couple of outcrops, but otherwise nothing problematic. The passs height, according to five sat signals on my GPS, is 5,584m, which doesnt agree with the altitude shown in the Swiss Map.
The way down the pass was much more complicated, on glacier terrain including two very steep sections. The group passed the first tough section unroped, but Michael had to use 150 meters of fixed rope, crampons and two ice-axes to reach the bottom.
From that point the team traversed Muztagh glacier, and, after crossing a moraine at 4,065 meters, on Aug. 1 they ended up on Baltoro glacier. A group of porters coming back from a Gasherbrum expedition came by and greeted us, then they looked at us in disbelief when we explained we came from Shimshal, Michael wrote.
"A new route across the Karakorum range was opened: From Shimshal to the Northwest side of K2, over the Muztagh pass to the Baltoro glacier," Michael stated.
<i>Read Michael's complete report (in German)<a href=" http://www.beek-pakistan.de/shimshal_baltoro_askole.html" class="linkstylenews" target="new"> here.</a>