2016 Pakistan (1/3): Deosai Traverse

Places Deosai Plains, Pakistan, Himalayas. Gilgit, Astore, Gudai, Skardu
Time & length July/August 2016, 2 weeks
Partners Heinz Friedrich
To acclimatize for our challenging Snow Lake trek, Heinz and I traversed the Deosai Plains via the mountains to its northwest. The traverse took 11 days which we mostly spent between 4,000 and 5,000 m in order to be perfectly prepared for what was coming next.
Heinz and I met in Patagonia in 2014, since then we have kept in touch via Facebook. He is an experienced mountaineer and trekker from Germany who has both technical skill as well as physical strength.

We reunited in Islamabad on July 22 and went on a 22-hour bus ride up to Gilgit where we stayed with friends of mine. Then we took a bus to Astore and from there a private vehicle to the small village of Gudai in the Astore valley. That’s where our 11-day acclimatization trek began.

The Deosai Plains is one of the highest plateaus in the world with an average altitude of 4,100 m. We had food for over 12 days in our backpacks and decided take it very slow, especially in the beginning. The first pass was 4,800 m high and we couldn’t risk gaining more elevation than 500 m per day. Acclimatization is a serious issue.

On the second day of the hike, Heinz got diarrhea which lasted until we reached Skardu where he took antibiotics ten days later. Interestingly enough the diarrhea didn’t affect Heinz’ physical strength too much, he was still in great shape and we kept going as planned.

On the sixth day of our trek, we climbed over our first pass which seemed to be unmarked. We built a cairn and named the pass “Imodium La”, inspired by my partner’s medical condition.

Now we reached the plains. The area was beautiful and we hiked over several easy passes. We also met a shepherd family living in tents, they belonged to the Gurjar People. Other than this one family we didn’t run into any people during our time in the Deosai area.

On August 3 we climbed over our last pass, Burji La (4,815 m). We pitched our tent on the other side before we descended 2,200 m to the city of Skardu, located in the Indus River valley.

Please continue reading here to learn about our Snow Lake trek, the main reason why Heinz and I came together for hiking in Pakistan in summer 2016.