04.06.2010 – The departure was scheduled for 8 am – breakfast at 7am. At 7:30am everybody was busy loading the 5 jeeps that were going to drive us to Askole. At 7:55 people were in the jeeps and at 8:00 we were ready to leave. A 115 km long journey lay ahead of us. The first 15km gave us the wrong idea of what was lying ahead. Quickly we reached the typical mountain Pakistanese roads. From there on, the nice comfort of the always well maintained 4×4 jeeps seemed to completely disappear.
After a 4 hour drive we stopped for a nice lunch next to the Shrigar river. The sun came out of the clouds and we could eat outside in a nice garden.
We returned to our jeeps and started driving into an even wilder region. The terrain became very rugged and only a few oasis's of vegetation could be seen from time to time. Next to this vegetation we could see some small houses inhabited with local people. They were obviously making the most of this vegetation to grow cereals and vegetables and to feed their livestock.
As the roads were becoming narrower, the cliffs also became bigger and steeper. We could definitely appreciate the skill of our experienced drivers on these narrow roads.
that happens over the winter months, we were also stopped at a bridge that had been destroyed by a big rock. The only way for us to continue was to offload all the equipment from our jeep and go by foot. Fortunately, due to the great planning of our guides, there was a a new convoy of jeeps were waiting for us on the other side. It was just another 1.5 hour drive and we reached Askole 3144m).
The temperature had dropped a little since we left Skardu and a gently rain welcomed us.
The camp was already set up and we distributed the tents, 2 people per tent. Tiziana with Erica, Hugo with Jye, Daniel with Basil and Kai with Alexander.
Before having dinner we went to the local museum to learn about the Shrigar Valley, the architecture of the houses and the way of life of the local people. It was very interesting to learn how people face the difficult conditions of this valley.
At 7:30pm we all had a good dinner in the mess tent. To finish the day, we had a briefing after dinner to speak about general organization and preparation of the next day.
Blog written by Jye and Tiziana – Journey to Askole
No one could mentally prepare themselves for the extraordinary drive along the dangerous Askole-Road from Skardu to Askole.
After leaving at 8 o’clock from the Concordia Hotel, we had an exciting 7 and a half hour journey along the beautiful Shigar Valley, small villages, crazy bridges, steep slopes and even landslides. The drivers were very experienced and the jeeps were incredible, so we felt save during the whole trip.
At Shigar Village we had a delicious lunch and a welcoming rest; because the shaking of the Jeeps is really exhausting, especially for those having problems with their stomach. In the afternoon we saw a spectacular landslide, which forced us to leave the road and drive around just beating the amazingly fast moving debris consisting of large rocks fragments and mud.
Soon after the landslide we reached a bridge that had been destroyed by a large rock fall. As a result the entire expedition luggage had to be transferred and carried across the broken bridge to the jeeps waiting on the other side. It was a scary experience carrying our gear across the bridge as it was on a very steep lean and also moved around significantly. We all piled into the jeeps waiting on the other side and continued the journey to Askole. While it was only a further 25km it took hours to reach the small village due to the very difficult and steep terrain.
Arriving at the village of Askole was incredible, the local children where so happy to see us and very welcoming. After having green tea and cake at the tent site we made our way down to the local museum. It was very fascinating learning about the settlement of Askole and the local way of life. It was very interesting to learn that the local population had been estimated to be around 600 people, living in approximately 57 homes. However the estimation of the population was calculated using the number of stoves in the village. The structure of the homes was also very interesting; during the winter months the entire family would live below the house, where the stove from the kitchen kept the room warm.
After finishing at the museum we made our way back to the tent site. We had so much fun interacting and playing with the local children, they were so curious about who we where and what we were doing. They loved when the young explorers joined them on there seesaw made of two logs.
Today was an incredible day and we have all gained so much knowledge. It will be something that we will never forget.