K-2, "mountain of mountains," as referred to by Reinhold Messner in the account of his 1979 ascent of this giant, is 8611 m. high.
K-2 is located in the heart of the Karakoram Range and can be seen in its entirety from Concordia. This sublime pyramid sits at the head of the Godwin Austin Glacier which unites with a second glacier at Concordia to form the mighty Baltoro Glacier.
Galen Rowell described Concordia as the "throne room of the mountain Gods" after viewing the exceptional mountain needles ripping open the clouds in blue expanse from the 5000 m. floor. Four peaks above 8000 m. sit within a radius of only 21 km. from Concordia, honoring this site with the largest concentration of the highest peaks on earth.
The journey to the second highest mountain in the world begins with an overseas flight to Pakistan's capital, Islamabad. One night is spent in Islamabad to obtain trekking permits and then it's off to Skardu. Weather permitting, we will fly to Skardu; otherwise, we will travel by road.
The mountain flight offers fantastic views as the plane follows the Indus River Valley and brushes past the ninth highest mountain in the world, Nanga Parbat. Looking out the aircraft window one sees a vast ocean of peaks stretching endlessly into the horizon. This area exemplifies "continents in collision" with four of the world's greatest mountain ranges (Himalaya, Karakoram, Hindukush and Pamir) emerging below.
Don't fret if bad weather bars this magnificent plane ride for the drive to Skardu over the famous Karakoram Highway (KKH, the old silk route) is just as spectacular. The drive takes two days with an overnight near Gilgit.
Skardu (2500 m.) is the capital of Baltistan and gateway to the high peaks of Northern Pakistan. After purchasing supplies and an overnight rest in Skardu we will proceed by jeeps as far as the track is passable towards Askolie. Askolie is located at 3300 m. and is the last village before reaching K-2.
Beyond Askolie is complete wilderness consisting of glaciers spouting the beginnings of rivers with mountain guards of unimaginable heights lining their beds. From Askolie we begin the walk taking two to three days to reach Paiyu Campsite (3666 m.) situated under the majestic Paiyu Peak (6660 m.) with the tip of the 58 km. long Baltoro Glacier visible in the distance.
The next stage of our journey takes us over the Baltoro Glacier to our destination, Concordia. The walk on the Baltoro provides one with ultimate mountain scenery with such well known mountains as Masherbrum (7852 m.), Uli Biaho Tower (6190 m.), Trango Towers (6300 m.), the Grand Cathedral (5228 m.) and Muztagh Tower (7273 m.) shooting up from this immense highway with sheer vertical lines that defy reality.
After four to five days we will reach 4691 m. at Concordia. Here one is encircled by Marble Peak, K-2 (8611 m.), Broad Peak (8047 m.), Gasherbrum Group, Golden Throne (7312 m.), Chogolisa (7654 m.) and Mitre Peak (6038 m.). Indeed, this is "Throne room of the mountain gods." We will spend two to three days at Concordia and then begin our return to Askole via the same route. Upon reaching the lush green fields of Askolie a walk ends and a new way of viewing our earthly existence begins.
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