Wednesday, May 13


Yaqub on the "roof of the world" somewhere in the Karakorams in '97. Datas from the Internets: the Karakorams border Pakistan, China and India and one of the Greater Ranges of Asia, often considered together with the Himalayas but not technically part of that range. The Karakoram is home to more than sixty peaks above 7,000 meters 23,000 feet, including K2, the second highest peak of the world at 8,611 meters. K2 is just 237 meters smaller than Everest. The range is aprox. 500 kilomters in length, and is the most heavily glaciated part of the world outside of the polar regions. The Siachen Glacier, for instance, 70 km and the Biafo Glacier at 63 km rank as the world's second and third longest outside the polar regions. The Karakoram is bounded on the northeast by the edge of the Tibetan Plateau, and on the north by the Wakhan Corridor and the Pamir Mountains. Just to the west of the northwest end of the Karakoram lies the Hindu Kush. The southern boundary of the Karakoram is formed by the rivers Gilgit, Shyok and Indus which is the fastest moving body of water on the planet; together they separate the rangee from the northwestern end of the Himalayas. Due to its altitude and ruggedness, the Karakoram is much less inhabited than parts of the Himalayas further east.

From Sir Peter Hopkirk's book "The Great Game" (which I highly recommend), European explorers first visited Central Asia early in the 19
th century, followed by British surveyors from 1856. In that vain, The Muztagh Pass was crossed in 1887 by the expedition of my hero Colonel Francis Younghusband and the valleys above the Hunza River were explored by George Cockerill in 1892. Explorations in the 1910s and 1920s established most of the geography of the region. This a period of great tension between Britain and Russia as each raced to discover new trading routes to India.

At one point I stood at the Gilgit and Indus crossing, looking in one direction at the Pamirs; the other - Himalayas; and the third - Karakorams. Wow.