WHAT IS THE ROUTE LIKE FOR CROSSING GONDOGORO LA HIGH PASS?
The ascent of Gondogoro La pass is on a snow slope with glacial ice underneath. The route varies year to year although usually the angle is moderate. There is rope fixed for one or two sections. In 2007 there was a glacial surge making the ascent far steeper and a deep crevasse opened up. This made it too hard for trekkers so no groups were able to cross over the pass in that year.
The far harder part of crossing Gondogoro La is the descent from the summit of the pass at an elevation of 5,560m. This side of the pass has steep slopes of loose rocky scree. It usually does not have any snow when our trekking groups cross in early August.
Know more about : K2 Gondogoro La Trek
WHAT ARE THE OBJECTIVE RISKS OF CROSSING GONDOGORO LA?
There is a risk of rockfall and mudslides on the descent of the Gondogoro La later in the day. It is important that people can move with confidence on this type of terrain. Trekkers must be down to Khuspang camp before the sun warms the slope on the pass. Our groups leave Ali Camp in the early hours of the morning. They arrive at the top of Gondogoro La at first light. This means that, inshallah, the rocks on the descent slope are still frozen in place.
After descending the pass you will find a trail. This takes you along the lateral moraine to Khuspang campsite. On the next day we descend on a trail that includes several river crossings, to the campsite at Saisho. From here you follow an easy trail to the village of Hushe. This is the road head for the jeep drive back to Skardu.
WHAT EXPERIENCE DO I NEED TO CROSS GONDOGORO LA ON K2 BASE CAMP?
The key for a safe crossing of Gondogoro La is having the right skills, experience and equipment.
The ascent of Gondogoro La requires use of an ice axe and crampons plus a jumar for ascending the fixed rope. The climb follows a moderate angled snow slope to the summit of Gondogoro La. Most groups do not find this too difficult from a technical mountaineering perspective. Having said this, it will be hard physical work given you are climbing above 5,000m.
The most challenging section is the descent down the Gondogoro La. This requires multi pitch rapels (also known as abseils) at an angle of around 40 to 45 degrees. At this gradient one can walk back down the slope with weight on the feet rather than hanging on the rope. One has to be careful not to kick and knock rocks down to trekkers on the ropes below. Lower down on the slope after three or four rapels the angle eases off. At this point you can use the rope as a handrail as you walk down the rocky slope.