05.06.2010 – Askole at 3100m. 6:00am everyone woke up and started to prepare their backpacks and roll up their tents. At 7am we were all in the mess tent for breakfast. Next to our camp site, 300 people were waiting, hoping to be chosen as porters for our expedition. Beck, the expedition organizer from Nazir Sabir's organisation was managing the complete process.
The area was divided in two levels. On the lower level, the 300 local people were listening carefully to the anouncements. On the higher level, Becks had two people helping him and they were choosing the porters and dividing the loads in-between them.
It was fascinating to see the anxiety in some eyes, waiting to listen for their name to be called. It was great to see the smiling faces of the chosen ones.
As everything was happening just in front of us, we had the chance to see and learn how the porters are packing and carrying their loads. It was even more surprising to see the equipment they had. Most of them had light trousers, long shirts and a long kind of down jacket on top. They all have light training shoes and some didn't even have socks.
While everyone was busy with the distribution of the equipment, one man took the most of the presence of our expedition to bring his young sick child to us. Our expedition doctor, was able to give him a quick medical check and give him some medicine.
At 8:00am all our Young Explorers were ready to start their journey to the first camp on the way to the Baltoro Glacier, Johla – a 6 hour walk with a very small elevation as we had only 100m in altitude to gain.
The start of the trek was quite easy and flat and fortunately the weather was excellent. The sun was shining but the temperature was not too high.
As we were leaving, the first porters joined us on the path. With 25kg loads of our equipment plus their equipment on their back they were still walking further than us. There is nothing to say – these people are incredibly strong and fit.
After two hours of trek, the path started to become a bit steeper. Nothing really hard for our Young Explorers but just something to give us a first taste of effort. We then walked along a cliff alongside the river that we had not left since Skardu. We stopped for short lunch in a kind of small oasis and found a small river where we could fill up our bottles. As this water was coming from the upper glaciers, it was very cold, clean and refreshing.
After another few hours of walking, we could finally see the camp site, standing at the other side of the big river flowing down to Askole. The river this year is quite low and some of us tried to cross it by foot, which allowed us to take a short cut to the campsite. Unfortunately we quickly discovered that the river was deeper than we expected so the Young Explorers could not cheap this time – they had to cross the river the bridge, just a small 2 km further!
As soon as we reached the camp, we set up or Iland Solar Generators and tried to take the most of the rest of the sunlight to charge our batteries.
At 7pm we all met in the mess tent for a dinner and as usual we spoke about the next day. Tomorrow we will see the K2 and Broad Peak !!!!!
A blog written by Dan and Kai – Location: Juhla
This morning began with a different mind-set, due to last night’s eye opening discussion among the whole team (especially Mike and the 8 YEPers). We spoke around the subject of acting more mature and evolving ourselves in the planning and organization of the expedition.
Today, we broke out of our comfort zones from the very minute we woke up early in the morning (5:45am) and packing away our tents and getting our bags ready for the 7 and a half hour trek from Askole to Juhla- the first camp.
The team of only 19 required food and equipment of the expedition which weighs way over a ton! So, in the morning hundreds of job-seeking porters came to Askole concerning our trip. In all over 300 porters were employed.
Most of the porters are small framed and wear ragged clothing, however it doesn’t stop them from carrying more than 25KG’s each!! Each of the porters have their own speed and they are able to carry these loads due to their acclimatization at high altitudes and they’ve grown up in such harsh terrains – THE REAL HERO’S!
Our very experienced mountain guides, Alex and Erwan briefed us about trekking techniques which would help us to hike and climb consistently and powerfully for 18 days straight without getting tired or injured- keeping a constant pace and looking after our legs and feet ( the most important part of our body for the next weeks).
We started the hike on a well trodden path and in about 1 and a half hours the group had split up by at least 3 km’s. Our bodies acclimatize differently and that makes it important to walk at your own pace.
We trekked close to Baldro river which is quite chilly because it is glacier melt, the river is uncommonly low and that means there is still a lot of snow in the mountains which is bad news for us because temperatures will be colder and it’ll will make moving much more difficult.
About an hour away from Juhla a spectacular phenomenon occurred: Frozen rain at 20degrees Celsius. As rain falls the cold air in the high altitude freezes the droplets and the thin layer of warm air cannot unfreeze them.
We arrived at the lonely camp site and set up our tents and each of us had tasks to do until dinner. Mike was in a very good mood and the tension of the previous day had been transformed into a more comfortable atmosphere since he noticed a more committed team, ending the night with him telling us fantastic stories of his former expeditions and experiences which have us all Goosebumps.
Deeply inspired we look forward to the next days!!!!