02.06.2010 – The departure time from the guesthouse was schedule at 8:00 this morning. As everyone had already prepared and packed their luggage the previous evening, we all had time to take a small breakfast before loading the two buses that were gonig to drive us (and or tonne of equipment) to the airport.
In order to check everything in and to be sure that we wouldn't forget any bags, each one of the group had to grab a trolley while Mike was writing down the number of bags each person would be responsible for checking in. Then we started the long and difficult process of security check and check-in with all of our equipment. From the start we knew it was going to be a difficult task and we were all aware that we would be overloaded. Of course, we took all what we could as handluggage (even if the dimensions of some equipment were a bit bigger than 'the norm'). The total of all the checked-in bags was 788kg for the 19 people! Normally only 20kg per people is allowed on the flight to Skardu. Thanks to our locat contact and thanks to the good understanding of the PIA (Pakistanese International Airlines) we were allowed to take everything with us.
Flights from Islamabad to Skardu are well known for their irregularities and delays so it was still uncertain at what time we would leave. Normally our flight was planned to leave at 10:00, but as soon as we had finished the check-in, a 2 and a half hour delay was announced. At least the flight was not canceled! At about 11:30, a new delay of the flight for another 2 hours seemed to confirm the reputation of this journey.
Erica made the most of that time to bring out a map of the Karakoram region on which Mike could show and explain to the Young Explorers the different part sof the trek and the challenges that were awaiting them.
Finally, at 2pm we were boarding. The flight was a bit shaky but we soon forgot about that once we neared Skardu. We could for the first time see the big, impressive mountains, some of them sticking out of the clouds at 8000 meters. As Skardu village is located in a deep valley, the plane had to make a few 360 degrees loops inbetween the two sides of the valley. Very impressive!
Two buses were waiting us at the airport. After we loaded all the equipment on the roof of the buses, we went to a quiet guesthouse. The view on the Indus River was quite amazing and the mountains were standing right in front of our windows.
After a good dinner, everyone returned to their rooms to sort out their material once again. Now we needed to prepare and weigh everything for the porters that would help us tomorrow. Each porter will carry a maximum of 25kg of equipment, which means that every bag needed to be carefully packed and weighed.
Thanks to the cooler temperatures in Skardu than in Islamabad, we are all looking forward to a comfortable sleep!