Trek to k2 Base Camp

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The K2 base camp trek in Pakistan is one of the great hikes on earth. Trekkers follow a rocky trail that winds up the mighty Baltoro Glacier, passing through a colossal amphitheater of sky-scraping summits – including seven of the 19 highest mountains on the planet – en route to the base of the world’s second highest peak. Feet twitching? Here’s everything you need to know about hiking to K2 base camp.

A view of K2 mountain from base camp. The rocky mountain is covered in snow and its peak is obscured slightly by cloud.
A view of the mighty K2 from base camp © Peter Watson / Lonely Planet

K2 base camp trek mainly involves walking over and marching along the world’s 5th longest non-polar glacier i.e. Baltoro glacier (63 km). At the end of Baltoro glacier is Concordia which is known as “Throne Room of Mountain Gods”. It is the supreme point for views of K2 (world’s second tallest mountain) and other mighty peaks above 8000 m.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Concordia.jpg

Weather and Map of k2 base Camp

SKARDU WEATHER

It is a legend that one night under the grand mountains in Concordia adds to the life span of any soul by one year.

Concordia is a glacial confluence of the Baltoro Glacier with the Glacier of Godwin Austen. Trek to K2 base camp and Broad Peak base camp is altogether a one-day return trip from Concordia on the Godwin Austen glacier.

There are two options on return to Concordia after trek to K2 base camp. One is taking the same route back home and the second is crossing a mountain pass for more adventures

Unlike the approach to Everest base camp in Nepal, where trekkers are treated to only teasing glimpses of the iconic summit, K2 is unimpeded by its satellite peaks, and instead stands imposing, watching over all who tackle the trail to its base. K2 may be second in height and notoriety to Everest, but as a spectacle, it is second to none.

Trekking to K2 Base Camp

Trek Details

Trekking from Askoli (first camp) over Baltoro glacier to Concordia offers views of several famous 6000 m and 7000 m peaks, several glaciers (including Biafo – world’s 3rd longest non-polar), glacial lakes etc. You can easily access the itinerary for the trek to K2 base camp.

There are two options on return to Concordia after trek to K2 base camp. One is taking the same route back home and the second is crossing a mountain pass for more adventures.

A selection of colourful tents pitched at Concordia Camp, the last overnight stop before reaching K2 base camp. The tents are pitched on a flooring of boulders and scree and are surrounded by mountain peaks. In the background, K2 mountain is clearly visible.
breathtaking campsites on the planet © Peter Watson / Lonely Planet

When K2 base camp trek is extended from Concordia towards Hushey valley over Gondogoro La (Pass), the comprehensive trek is then commonly referred to as “Gondogoro La Trek” and also “K2 Gondogoro La Trek”. It is a strenuous but an action-packed and demanding circular trek.

K2 Gondogoro La Trek involves trekking first over the Upper Baltoro glacier and later on the Vigne glacier before ascending and crossing the Gondogoro la/pass (5585 m). The top of the pass is a broad area offering breathtaking views of 4 eight thousand meter peaks.​

Trekking to K2 Base Camp

After descending the pass, the walk mostly continues over glaciers (including Gondogoro glacier) and lateral moraine. The trek offers views of new landscape including pastures, glaciers and gorgeous peaks until the downstream journey is made to Hushey valley.

These two incredible trekking routes mentioned above which were once considered harsh proposals are now considered good challenges by hiking and trekking enthusiasts from around the world.

Practical information

Distance: The trek takes around 14 days in total. Climbers should be fit and healthy and have tackled at least one high-altitude climb before. Additionally, opting to tackle the Gondogoro La pass requires some basic rope work and the use of an ice axe.

Camping: The only accommodation available throughout the trek is camping. Tents are two-person affairs so solo travelers should expect to share. Campsites are pitched either on rock, ice or both, so make sure to pack a thick, warm camping mattress. It should also be noted that most campsites do not have toilet facilities. So prepare to do your business in the wild, following the principles of “leave no trace” (i.e. digging holes and burning toilet paper).

Equipment: It is common for porters to carry your personal gear. But this all depends largely on the level of service you pay for. The more expensive outfits provide chairs, dining table, toilet tent and full porter. Cheaper outfits require clients to carry some or all of their personal gear and forego the other luxuries.

An ice pick is jammed into the ice on the Gondogoro La pass, next to which, two trekking backpacks lie on the ice. In the background, several rocky summits are visible.
An ice pick is necessary for trekkers who opt to tackle the Gondogoro La pass © Peter Watson / Lonely Planet

When to go: The best months for trekking in the Karakorum are July and August. Although the trekking season runs from mid-June through mid-September. Outside those dates excessive snow remains on passes and north-facing slopes, keeping any passes above 3,000 m closed. Unsurprisingly, the weather in the Karakoram can be changeable. Be prepared for a range of weather including wind, rain, snow and plunging temperatures, particularly at night.

Terrain: The terrain is far more challenging than the well-trodden trails of Nepal. On the Baltoro Glacier trails are constantly changing. The ice shifts and crevasses open up, so a degree of cross-country walking is to be expected. It’s also not unusual for rivers to swell to excessive levels or wash away footbridges. So be prepared to get your feet wet.

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