Towards the Roof of the World

One of our Kashgar activities was a day-trip to the heights of the Karakorum Pass and Lake Karakol on the Tajikistan border.

The Karakoram Pass is a 5,540 m or 18,176 ft mountain pass between India and China in the Karakoram Range. It is the highest pass on the Silk Road, the ancient caravan route, between Leh in Ladakh and Yarkand in the Tarim Basin. ‘Karakoram’ literally means ‘Black Gravel’ in Turkic

Historically, the high altitude of the pass and the lack of fodder were responsible for the deaths of countless pack animals while the route was notorious for the trail of bones strewn along the way. There is an almost total absence of vegetation on the approaches to the pass. (Wikipedia).

The Karakorum mountain range is the second highest in the world, with 8 peaks over 8,000 metres, including K2 (second highest after Everest), and the most heavily glaciated area outside Antartica.

We started late morning, following the deeply carved valley of the Karakash river, on a very tortuous and dangerous road which is understandably not on the map.

KK1a.JPG

KK1.JPG

KK3a.JPG

KK2.JPG

KK3.JPG

KK10.JPG

Spectacular scenery, a few isolated herding communities, lots of goats and sheep and camels, some horses, but everywhere massive construction projects- hydro but no road work, alas.

KK4.JPG

KK4a.JPG

We did not see masses of pack animal bones- but we could see why that would come about.

We climbed higher and higher into the snow-covered Pamir Mountains…

KK5.JPG

KK7.JPG

KK8.JPG

KK11.JPG

to the edge of a mysterious lake, probably created by a dam.

KK12.JPG

KK13.JPG

KK14.JPG

Perhaps because of the altitude, the lake was shrouded in an effervescent mist. An ethereal band of white sand lined its edge, Soon we reached our destination, Karakol Lake, on a high mountain plain.

KK15.JPG

KK19.JPG

We passed through the Tajik/ Kyrkyz village of Karakol on the lakeside to, lo and behold, a tourist faciltity (!)

KK18.JPG

…where after some intense persuasion by the locals, Ariana and I rented horses for a trail ride.

KK21.JPG

Across the lakeside plain, we could see Pamir peaks reaching over 7500 metres.

KK20.JPG

KK22

KK16

KK17

Going back the way we came, we passed the mysterious lake which had lost its mist in the changing light…

KK24.JPG

KK25.JPG

…back through the rough range astride the raging Karakash.

KK29.JPG

KK23.JPG

KK26.JPG

KK27.JPG

KK28.JPG

KK30.JPG

Back in time for a well-earned Uighur dinner.

 

 

One thought on “Towards the Roof of the World

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s