Greetings from Skardu, in northern Pakistan. I arrived in Islamabad last Friday, in sweltering 42C! A visit to the Faisal Mosque, biggest in Pakistan, was interesting. It was designed by a Turkish architect and resembles the Hagia Sofia in Istanbul. It can house a staggering 10,000 people.
The journey to Skardu took 2 days on the famous Karakoram Highway. It was 2 very long days, 16 & 15 hours in the bus. The scenery was breathtaking but not without danger. The road was washed out by landslide at two different places. At the first location, we had to walk across the landslide and transferred to another bus. At the second location, we waited for 4 hours while the road was being cleared. While the bus snaked through the mountain road, I couldn’t help noticing the gigantic boulders gingerly balancing on the steep slopes. It wouldn’t take much for one to come off triggering a rockslide, flying to the bottom of the hill, crashing whatever is on the road. Having travelled so many mountain roads, I rate this as the most dangerous road I have ever been on. And we have not even got to K2 yet.
Two days of rest is welcoming after the bus ride.
The entire team is now in Skardu. 11 climbers and 15 sherpas, total 26. That’s not all, we will have more than 100 porters when start the trek.
This is the last major town with cell signal. We are leaving on Friday to Askole, the last village and the start of the 9-day trek to base camp. I was told the road to Askole is even more treacherous. Wish me luck.
ETA at BC is 8 July, and the real difficult challenge begins from there on.
Cheers. Swee Chiow