The North base camp of K2 lies in a remote corner of China's Xingjiang province. Only a handful of people have ever travelled to this isolated mountain wilderness on the north side of the Karakoram range. Recently opened to foreigners, this is one of the most unspoilt and least visited parts of the entire Himalayas. The mighty Yarkand and Shagskam rivers drain the waters flowing north from the great Karakoram peaks and carve deep channels through the mountainous landscape. The valleys here are at a much lower altitude than those on the Pakistan side of the range, giving a greater vertical height gain to the high summits. Many thousands of trekkers and climbers have seen the majestic Karakoram 8000m peaks from the Pakistan side, but few have ventured on the long trek through China to view K2, BroadPeak and the Gasherbrums from the north.
Sir Francis Younghusband became the first western explorer to see the north side of K2 during his epic 1887 journey to cross the Old Muztagh Pass. This trek follows the same route, approaching the mountains along the valleys of the Yarkand and Shagskam rivers. The area was first explored in detail and mapped by members of Eric Shipton's 1937 'Blank on the Map' expedition. Even a hardened traveller like Shipton was overwhelmed by the scenery. He wrote "The cliffs and ridges of K2 rose out of the glacier in one stupendous sweep to the summit of the mountain 12,000 ft above. The sight was beyond my comprehension and I sat gazing at it with a kind of timid fascination..."
The highest point reached on the trek to base camp is the 4,870m AghilPass. From here, there is a magnificent view of the high peaks of the Karakoram range. The ShagskamRiver cannot be forded safely in the summer months, therefore travel in this area is restricted to the spring and autumn. This expedition takes place in April, before the intense heat of the summer and before water levels in the rivers rise.
If you are interested in this trekking program, please contact us and we will calculate it for you!
The price will be includes
- Meeting/seeing off in the airport
- Accommodation in 3*hotels according to the program (twin accommodation)
- All necessary permits and government tax
- All necessary overland transfers with Bus and Jeep, for climbers and gear, from Kashgarto last Village Ilik , and back to Kashgar, airport transfer in Kashgar
- Enough camels for your gear portage from Ilik to Chinese BC and from BC back to Ilik
- 2 nights hotel accommodations in Kashgar at a three star hotel, two nights hotel at best hotel in Yecheng
- 2 nights in Naryn
- Three meals a day in city, on the way to the last village and back to Kashgar, food on trek (lunch packed in box)
- Good kitchen facilities
- Camping tent, mattress, or a separate dining tent (mess tent) for your expedition
- A cook, his salary, and his insurance
- A guide/intepreter throughout the trip, beginning in Kashgar
- One day sightseeing in Kashgar, including a cultural guide, entrance fees for the sites (Old city district, Apaq Khoja Mausoleum, Idkah Mosque), transportation, and all meals
- Custom clearance，we help (and pay for, if necessary) your expedition gear to clear customs.
- If necessary, an invitation letter to help you obtain your China visa
The costs not include:
- International air flight to and from Bishkek
- Insurance of any kind for your group or members
- High altitude porters (between Chinese BC at 3900m and higher camps)
- Any other personal items [e.g.: gear or gifts you find in China].
- Excursions or tours not listed above
- Additional meals
- Bottled or canned drinks
- Cooking service at higher altitudes
- tips for Chinese staff(Cook, interpreter, assistant cook helper, camel drivers and hotel porter if needed)
- Single room addition
- Any changes in the program
Best time: April - mid June
Duration: 23 days
Day 1 Fly to Bishkek(the capital city of Kyrgyzstan).
Day 2 Arrive in Bishkek / Drive to Tash Rabat. We are met at the airport by a private bus which leaves immediately for the long drive East towards the Chinese border. After passing the city of Naryn the road starts climbing into the foothills of the At Bashy Range. Leaving the main road in the late afternoon we make a short detour to reach the historic caravanserai at Tash Rabat (c3000m). Here we spend the night in a comfortable yurt encampment. (8-9hrs)
Day 3 Drive to Kashgar via Torugart Pass. The bus sets off early in the morning for the 100km climb to Chinese frontier. The road crosses two mountain passes giving views over the Fergana range before reaching the top of the 3,752m Torugart pass. This journey has been called 'the most exiting route into Central Asia'. At the top of the pass we say goodbye to our Kyrgyz guide and transfer to a Chinese bus for the descent into the Chinese province of Xinjiang. The landscape changes from dry dusty hillsides to irrigated, tree lined farmland on the 160km drive to Kashgar. (8-9hrs) , Hotel 3* (D)
Day 4 Drive to Kargilik (Yecheng). On this section of the journey we travel in 4- wheel drive cars - most likely Toyota Landcruisers. Driving south from Kashgar the road crosses a large level plain, following the historic trade route which led to the Karakoram pass and British India. On clear days the snow covered peaks of the Kongur / Muztag Ata massif can be seen to the west. We stop for lunch at an outdoor restaurant in Yarkand (Chinese name: Sache) before continuing to Kargilik (Chinese name: Yecheng). Here we stay in the comfortable, modern, named 'K2 Hotel'. (4-5 hrs) (B+L+D)
Day 5 Drive to Yilik. Once we leave the fertile fields of Kargilik the terrain becomes dry and dusty. The road climbs a dramatic series of hairpin bends to reach the summit of a 3,150m mountain pass, and then drops down the other side towards the Kudi river valley. After lunch the road follows the river valley rising relentlessly to the top of a 5000m road pass. Another dramatic descent takes us to the army checkpoint at Mazar beside the Yarkand River. Here we leave the Xinjiang/Tibet highway and follow a dirt road into the mountains following the Yarkand river valley to Yilik, located at the junction with the Surakwat river. There is a small army post here overlooking a steep sided gorge. A modern bridge crosses the river and leads to our camp on a grassy patch at a height of 3,500m. (10hrs) .(B+L+D)
Day 6 Trek Yilik to Sarak. We meet with our camel drivers and load all the group's equipment onto their animals. The terrain underfoot becomes more difficult as we follow the valley of the Surakwat river past the junction with the Zug Shagskam. Much of the walking is on smooth 'river washed' stones. High cliffs of river deposited conglomerate rise on either side of the narrow valley. After 5-6 hours we reach a small campsite on a terrace overlooking a tributary of the main river (3,800m) (5 – 6 hrs)
Day 7 Trek Sarak to Kotaz. The valley turns into a narrow gorge in places as we follow the river higher into the mountains along a faint path made by the nomadic herders who visit this area in the summer months. We turn up a side valley to reach some abandoned mud and stone huts where we camp at a height of 4,330m below the Aghil pass. (5-6hrs)
Day 8 Trek Kotaz to Quinghongtan - Crossing Aghil Pass. The ascent of the 4870m Aghil pass is quite gentle and takes approx 3hrs. From the top there is a panoramic view of the great snow covered peaks of the Karakoram in the distance. The descent into the valley of the Shagskam river is straightforward. On reaching the silt laden river we ride the camels to reach the campsite on the other side. We camp in a grove of willow bushes at 3,950m, the only green in this dry landscape. (7-8hrs)
Day 9 Trek Quinghongtan to river junction camp. A slight drop in altitude today as we follow the Shagskam river downstream to the junction with the Sarpo Lago river. The river meanders across the 2km wide flood plan and we must cross it several times. If the level is low we can wade. High water levels (or a dislike of freezing water) can cause us to climb onto the camels. Camp is at 3,800m. (7-8 hrs)
Day 10 Trek river junction camp to Sughet Jangal(K2 BC). Shortly after leaving camp we get our first clear view of K2 as we climb a small shoulder above camp. It is then an easy walk south along the Sarpo Lago river valley to the green campsite at Sughet Jangal (3,900m). The crossing of the K2 river can add a little interest to the final part of this journey. (4 hrs)
Day 11-15 Rest day at Sughet Jangal. This camping spot was used by Younghusband in 1887 and was the base camp site of Shipton's 1937 'Blank on the Map' expedition. It is now known as 'Chinese base camp' although expeditions attempting K2 from this side use several advance camps on the North K2 glacier. The peak was first climbed from this side by a Japanese team in 1982. Only a handful of mountaineers have tried to repeat their route, and few have succeeded. We spend the day packing and preparing for the climbing programme: sorting supplies of food fuel and equipment. (PLS notes that we only offer the meal at Base camp)
Option: Glacier exploration and climbing programme. 'Advance base camp' at 5200m is more than 20km along the North K2 glacier from 'Chinese base camp'. We complete this journey in three days, crossing a variety of difficult glacial terrain. We will walk an average of 6-8 hrs each day. The huge pyramid of K2 dominates the view ahead as we trek southwards, passing rows of giant ice pinnacles. ABC sits in a natural amphitheatre dominated by the near vertical North face of K2. Camping in this spot enables us to watch the changing light on the peak as the sun tracks from East to West during the day.
Days 16-19 Trek Sughet Jangal to Yilik. All the group equipment is loaded onto the camels and we retrace the approach trek route along the Shagskam and Yarkand river valleys to reach Yilik.
Days 20-21 Drive from Yilik to Kashgar. From Yilik we follow dirt roads out of the mountains, crossing two high passes to reach the town of Kargilik (Yecheng) on the plains. The following day involves a shorter journey on better roads and we reach Kashgar by mid afternoon. Hotel 3* (B+L+D)
Day 22 Kashgar sightseeing : Apak Hoja mausoleum , Idkah Mosque, old town and Bazzar. Hotel 3 * (B+L+D)
Day 23-24 Drive from Kashgar to Bishkek. We retrace the route westwards from Kashgar, over the 3752m Torugart Pass into Kygystan where we descend Bishkek.
Day 25 At leisure in Bishkek. Bishkek is a fascinating city combining Soviet era architecture and monuments with an historic and vibrant nomadic culture. The broad tree-lined streets, museums, craft shops and restaurants are full of interesting sights. This is a great place to relax on the last full day of the trip.
Day 26 Transfer to the airport. Flight home