Spantik, August 2004

During August, 2004 I took part in Field Touring Alpine's Spantik Expedition. This was a commercial expedition to the 7027m high Spantik. The expedition comprised 18 members, two guides and a number of local Pakistani staff. From arrival in Islamabad to departure the expedition lasted one month. What follows is a brief summary of the expedition. Click on photographs for larger pictures.

By the 1st of August most members had found their way to the Shalimar Hotel in Islamabad, although one member had arrived stealthily and had Karakoram been hiding in his room! Bookings had been made for the following day for the PIA flight to Skardu. However, as in the previous 5 days, the flight was cancelled so we were all bundled into two coaster busses for the two day trip along the banks of the Indus.

Basna Valley near Arundu

Once in Skardu last minute preparations were made. A trip was taken to Satpara Lake. Whilst there a feed of fresh trout and chips was a relief from the monotonous chicken dishes, dhal and chipattis.

From Skardu jeeps were used for the trip to Arundu. The road is quite rough especially once the road leading to Askoli is left so the trip took most of the day. The night was spent camped just beyond the town site and we had an interesting time with the locals.

The trek from Arundu to base camp took place over three days. For the whole trip the Chogo Longma Glacier was followed with the first two days mostly on the true left lateral moraine. The final day is mostly on the glacial ice. Our expedition used 120 porters to carry the gear to base camp. The Spantik base camp is at approximately 4300m.

A panarama taken from a small rise above BC. 

Moving up the ridge between base camp and camp 1 After a couple of days of acclimatisation at base came we carried some gear to camp 1. The route begins up the face directly behind base camp up to the south east ridge. The ridge is then followed, mainly on rocky ground, to camp 1. Following a rest day at base camp members moved up and occupied camp 1.

Following a rest day at camp 1 seven members moved up and occupied camp 2. The weather conditions deteriorated overnight and it snowed the following day. After the second day at camp 2 the snow became heavier. Given that half a metre of new snow had had fallen on the knee to thigh deep snow that had been encountered by other expeditions above camp 2 our attempt was called off.

Moving between camps 1 and 2

Moving between camps 1 and 2

The trek out to Arundu was spread over two days. Photographs to the right and below show the route along the south east ridge. From Arundu we retraced our trip to base camp.

As an independent project I think that Spantik is a worthy objective for those with good experience in the mountains. Those with limited experience should use the services of a commercial expedition. Overall the services provided by Field Touring Alpine were good and what I expected for the money that I parted with. The guides provided by FTA were knowledable and personable. FTA use Adventure Tours Pakistan as there agents in Pakistan. The staff provided by ATP were friendly and performed well. Food was also good and plentiful (it was better than that provided at most of the hotels!).

The bit of advice I would give to anybody looking for a commercial trip to join is ask lots of questions and know what you are buying and getting yourself into. Also be truthful about your experience and your expectations. 


The road betwee the KKH and Skardu

Satpara lake above Skardu

Camp 1 looking up along the route
Looking back down the glacier from ridge above base camp Retreating from camp 2 during a snow storm The team just prior to departure
Heading away from base camp Spantik with the attempted route along the ridge forming the skyline Skardu kids wondering what the hell is going on!