Brisbane2Bristol

On our great adventure

Up the Khunjerab Pass….

Archive for the 13/9/2013

To leave Gilgit we had to go over a make Shift Bridge which was across a fast flowing river on a dusty track then it was back up on to the main road, which then continued to be great…

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The KKH went right up along beside the face of Mt.Rakaposhi which is a height of 7788 meters and was a spectacular sight which we were in awe, it seemed we could just set of with a packed lunch and climb it…..

This was a great place to stop in the shade of a walnut tree with a stream and to make a cup of tea and take the scenery in….

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We did notice a lot of the men up around this area that have western face features and green blue eyes, we later found out the reason for this was Alexander the Great, when he conquered the Hunza region had left behind a army of 10,000 men as a garrison and these were the direct descendants from them….

It didn’t take long and we were soon checked into the hotel PTDC a government run tourist chain, which had fabulous views, (we are running out of superlatives to use describing these mountains).

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This Chasm was at the bottom of the garden..

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The gardens again were full of ripe cherries that we could just pick from the trees, a hotel staff member presented Chris with her own bowl full of cherries…

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In the afternoon we rode into town to check out Balit Fort..
In the past, the survival of the feudal regime of Hunza was ensured by the impressive Baltit fort, which overlooks Karimabad. The foundations of the fort date back to 700 years ago, with rebuilds and alterations over the centuries. In the 16th century the local prince married a princess from Baltistan who brought master Balti craftsmen to renovate the building as part of her dowry. The architectural style is a clear indication of buddhist Tibetan influence in Baltistan at the time.The ride up to the fort was tight and up cobbled stone alleyways….

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we parked outside a small shop we grabbed a drink, which was being cooled in an icy stream that was flowing near the shop…don’t need to use a fridge here…

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A rare Marco Polo set of horns..

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Not a bad view from the bedroom…

The fort was fascinating and the guide was very informative on how the royals used to live.

On the way back down the narrow Street with tourist shops lining both sides, we stopped to get a drink and came out with a Emerald and Ruby ring that apparently mined from the local area for Chris…

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The owner then sat us down and made us all a cup of Chai…

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I also bought a Hunza hat that the locals wear, which is made from Yak wool.
I had a lot of smiles and waves wearing the hat back to our hotel.

We had a great dinner that evening in the hotel, with again way to much rice for us to eat, which Arran promptly took back to his room to have with milk and sugar for breakfast the next morning….

In the morning i had a conversation with the hotel manager about crossing the lake, which we had to do today with the bikes, he gave me the name of his friend, but we would need the boat number to find him, so the manager rang his friend and found out all the details for us, the locals all seem to like to help.

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We left on another glorious morning the sun shinning on the snow-capped mountains…perfect…

Just outside of karamabad we explored a gem mine, possibly where the gems on Chris’s ring were mined…

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The tunnels went off in every direction inside and when we explored them they seemed to go on forever.

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We had a go on chipping of some rocks and found what looked to be coloured stone but they went to dust when handled, maybe we will come back in a few million years when they have hardened.

Back on the bike and the roads were great, we were having a ball.

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But in the back of our minds, we had to cross Lake Attabad…
The lake was formed due to a massive landslide at Attabad village in Gilgit-Baltistan, 9 miles (14 km) upstream (east) of Karimabad that occurred on January 4, 2010.
The landslide killed twenty people and blocked the flow of the Hunza River for five months. The lake flooding has displaced 6,000 people from upstream villages, stranded (from land transportation routes) a further 25,000.
The lake reached 13 miles (21 km) long and over 100 metres in depth by the first week of June 2010 when it began flowing over the landslide dam, completely submerging lower Shishkat and partly flooding Gulmit.

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The enterprising locals brought up fishing boats and now make a handsome profit transporting people, vehicles and goods across the lake.

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We approached the start of the climb that would take us up and over to the boats, as it turned out they had made a half decent graded track, not the boulder strewn bull dust track so many have reported before.

We got up to the top of the hill and were met with the site of a beautiful blue lake, so still and inviting…

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There were still a few rocks rolling down…

Then looking down where we would have to load the bike on to these fishing boats it didn’t look an easy job, but these guys handle it all the time and we would just have to trust them.

We rode down to our boat number and were greeted by our boat captain.
I started to work out a price for the two bikes and the three of us, plus the man handling of the bikes on to the boat and handling them off at the other end.

Needless to say the price started out very high, they wanted $100 each bike plus handling…

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With a lot more negotiating I got the price down to $60 all in and we were happy….

With that we started to take all the luggage of the bikes to make life easier for the guys lifting the bikes aboard.

There was a makeshift plank, about six inches wide and two inches thick traversing the boat to the bank where the bikes were parked, about half a dozen guys then started maneuvering my bike to the plank and I was a bit nervous about the bike being to heavy for them and it plummeting of in to the lake and the trip over.

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But in no time it was on the boat and dragged around to have a prime spot on the bow of the boat.

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I must admit I gave a sigh of relief it was safely aboard, but we still have to get it off the other end…

Next was Arrans bike, which is considerably lighter, and they lifted it into the hull of the boat with minimal fuss, these guys were good at there job, I would have spent all day coming up with a plan how to tackle it, they just got stuck in and did it…

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With all the luggage safely aboard the Captain started up the smoky diesel engines and we were off…

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With us all smiling like Cheshire cats at the achievement we had made, we were defiantly on an adventure now we had I dreamed about for so long….

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We spent the 90-minute journey just gazing at the magnificent scenery and taking lots of photos…

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The water was spectacular blue colour…
We could even just make out a submerged village.

A boat going pass us was loaded with a 4WD, how did they get that on?

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When we reached the other side, it looked like getting the bikes off was going to be a lot harder as the lake just lapped up where the old road was, so just like a slipway.

So the plank up to the boat was at a very steep angle, and they had to shimmy the bikes down.
But in no time at all the bike were off and we were loading the luggage back on and with high fives we were off…

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The road turned really rough and I hit a the underside of the bike with a big rock and we were off and landed in a muddy puddle…

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We lifted the bike up and found that my gear shift lever had broke and a indicator lens cracked, bugger…

We rode on some more to be informed that the road was blocked ahead and we would have to go back, up and around town to get around it, all that for nothing…

We stopped in town in the shade and I fashioned a new gear lever out of a tool that was the same shape as the lever and some clamps I was carrying.

Not a bad bodge job…

The ride up and around town was very hard, following a steep ,narrow ,dusty track, with sharp turns and makeshift bridges, I was getting hot and was relieved when we got to the top to cool off.

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Then just out of town we came to, where there were a lot of vehicles stopped…

A fast flowing glacier stream had washed the road away…

We were told that an excavator was on its way and would be fixed in a couple of hours…
We decided we would walk across and see how bad and deep it was…
The water was freezing, more brain freeze for my feet, my god they hurt…

We came up with a plan, we would carry the entire luggage across, just in case we toppled over with the bike and drenching all our paperwork and electrical items.

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With Arran being a lot taller he could easily paddle the bike across the rocks and have both feet firmly on something solid.

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So with a kind local and me we held on to the bike as Arran slowly edged the bike across to the other side.

We were really on an adventure today…
With a quick change to some warm socks we on our way and the road became a super slick highway again…

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We came up to a monument where the three largest mountain range met.

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The Hindus Kush, the Himalayans and the Karakoram.

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It was a fantastic place and we felt so lucky to be here.

We were right into the moment living our dream and the recent news of our daughter’s recent birth to her second son Harry, we couldn’t be happier…

We arrived in to the town of Passu and negotiated a price for a room.
There was a black glacier within walking distance and as we got here early we decided it would be to hot to walk to it until later in the afternoon when it got cooler so we all had a snooze….

Once the sun started to set over the mountains we set off, there was a rough track to follow, but when we started to climb up hill Chris turned back as her knee was playing up…

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Can you spot her…

Arran and I kept going and we got to the top of the ridge, there was no sign of the glacier but another ridge, this continued for a few more ridges…

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We kept going and the track had turned to a goat track and we decided one more ridge and if was not there we would turn back.
Well we found it over the next ridge.

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It was huge and we found out why its called a black glacier, it was almost unreconisable, it was covered in rocks and dust but the water coming out of the bottom was enormous…

It was great walk and we arrived back exhausted…

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We had a message from the hotel manager that couples of bikes and some westerners riding them were at the other end of town, we thought it might be Paul and Angus, two other Australian’s we were traveling through China with.

We went to investigate and it was them, so the plan was coming together and they mentioned they had also seen Ben with his bike a few days back.

After breakfast we set off at a leisurely pace to our last town in Pakistan before the Chinese border at the town of Sost.

We secured another room at the government run Hotel PTDC..

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There was Italian over lander there on his Africa Twin and had been turned back from China because he had no papers for his bike.

Jamal was a very likeable guy and the three of us had an invite from a couple of Pakistani businessmen to join them for lunch.

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Well they put on a large spread for us and we were soon joined by Arran, Paul and Angus who had just turned up in town …

We are going to miss this hospitality, wherever we go we get invited for lunch or chai, they are truly a most friendly country…

Later that afternoon Ben turned up, we were all here now, a plan hatched some six months ago between us all to get through China…

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We had to do some final tinkering to Bens bike to get it to run better as the altitude was making it run badly…

Jamaal the Italian asked Paul if he could give him a lift into China, so at least he could finish the KKH on a motorbike, which Paul agreed to.
Jamaal would then come back by bus to collect his bike and continue to Italy another way, he was happy at least he could finish the KKH on a motorbike.

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After going into customs in the morning to get stamped out of Pakistan, we were sat in an office and noticed these filing boxes with dead bodies, Terrorists and missing people written on them…Hmmmm.

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It was an easy process at customs and immigration and we were on our way to China baby…

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Not far out of town we came to an avalanche tunnel that ironically was blocked at one end by an avalanche of dirt and rocks, there was no way for trucks or cars to get through and by the size of the landslide they wouldn’t get through any time soon…

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There was a way for us though, squeezing down the service lane through the tunnel and up over the edge of the landslide, it would be tight but we would have to do it, as there was no other way around.

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First though we would have to fill in a great big hole full of water, or the bikes would get lost in it, so we all threw some huge rocks in the hole, so the wheels would have a chance of getting across.

The service lane was full of rocks and metal that we cleared and one by one we got the bikes through the tunnel and up and other the landslide, phew….

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Not much further up the road we found this….

The road was now getting steeper and steeper and we arrived at the final Pakistani checkpoint…

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It was also getting colder..

Thank you Pakistan we have had a blast, we were now in nomans land heading to the outrages archway that announces that you are in CHINA…

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We lined the bikes up for a photo shoot, we all noticed that we were a bit breathless at this altitude of 4760 metres..

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Now down the Chinese checkpoint…

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7 thoughts on “Up the Khunjerab Pass….

  1. Simon Thomas on said:

    Awesome write up and pics!

  2. Japie Jovner on said:

    Very interesting . Well done

  3. James Clark on said:

    Fantastic write up and pics guys. I met Arran in Nepal so am happy he is still keeping it upright. Safe travels guys
    Cheers James Clark

  4. Linda Briscoe on said:

    Mind blowing photos and adventures Clive and Chris……xx

  5. Mazhar ali khan on said:

    Dear chris and paul
    Today i saw our pictures in ptdc motel sust border.These are nice.I miss the moments and all you guys.Mazhar from pakistan

    • Hi Mazhar ali khan, how are you & your family? thank you for reading our blogs, it was great to meet you in Sost, we would love to return to Pakistan again one day, you have a beautiful country. we are back in Australia now, we miss travelling…

      Take care, Chris & Clive 🙂

      • Mazhar Khan on said:

        Dear Chris and Clive
        Me and my family are fine.Thanks .It was really a great time being with you.I also miss the travel and you guys…take care and my best wishes for you and your family
        Mazhar khan

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