|6 November 99 - RAFTING, HIKING AND MOUNTAIN BIKING|
|It's now two months since we left
Austria and we've already reached the highest point of
our journey, the Khunjerab Pass at 4600m. We spent the
last week driving up the Karakorum Highway to the pass.
I think the Karakorum highway could be described as Paradise on earth for Rupert (or perhaps for any Austrian), I also found the mountains and glaciers beautiful and impressive but for a mountain lad like Rupert it was a dream come true.
Standing before peaks like Rakaposhi and Nanga Parbat it was hard to imagine they were over 7000m. Somehow they looked so easy to climb, like a Sunday tour up the Untersberg. As we stood at the Rakaposhi view point gazing up at the mighty north face the tip of the glacier seemed only a stones throw away and such an easy walk, just a stroll along the valley then a short climb.
With not a cloud in the sky the weather was perfect so we set off for the tip of the glacier. The way was in fact not an easy stroll as we'd imagined but a steep hike and with the ever changing light the glacier seemed to retreat further and further into the distance. But after 3 hours hard
hiking we did make it to the enormous "ice cubes" that form the tip of the glacier. Yannik was the only one who didn't seem so impressed with the beauty of the surroundings, he was more interested in his biscuit.
Also by Rakaposhi we went rafting along the hunza river. Ali, our trekking guide, had told us this was a good place to raft, so we set off. Unfortunately it seemed Ali himself had never set foot in a boat and certainly never paddled one down the hunza river. As we negotiated our way between boulders the size of houses and seemed to spend most of the time walking beside the river, me with Yannik on my shoulders, Rupert with the boat on his head, our only wish was that we'd arranged to meet Ali and the van after 2kms and not 20! But on this boat trip (or should I say walking trip) we were, for the first time in Pakistan, grateful for the crowds of interested children as they were happy to help carry the boat!
Our tour eventually finished, we left Hunza to carry on up to the Pass. After reading the description in the Nelles Guide we drove up doubtful that Lucky Luke would make it up the steep serpentines. In fact the pass was harmless and soon we were at the summit. In Austria our original plan had been to enter China, but after finding out the price and being told the pass would be closed due to snow we changed our plans. At 4600m the snow was actually over 1000m above us but one look at the unfriendly faces of the Chinese border guards and lorry drivers was enough to make us glad we weren't entering.
Rupert took advantage of the steep pass and mountain biked his way downhill whilst Yannik and I drove back down to the land of beautiful mountains, green terraced hills, sandy deserts and staring people. At least they're friendly staring people!