Gasherbrum II is in the Karakoram mountains of Northern Pakistan. The Karakoram range is home to five of the world's highest mountains. An expedition to Gasherbrum II involves a spectacular trek up the Baltoro glacier: an adventure without equal.
Gasherbrum II is a mountain of many contrasts. It is the 13th highest peak on the planet and is itself one of the safest and most straightforward 8,000m peaks to ascend. Still it remains an enormous mountain located far from the touch of civilisation. To get there involves a mountain journey unparalleled in its approach by any other peak of its size. An ascent of this beautiful pyramid shaped mountain is a true alpine adventure not unlike those experienced by the early explorers who first set foot in this fantastic range of mountains.
GII forms part of a mountain range in Northern Pakistan known as the Karakoram. It is part of the Gasherbrum group of 5 mountains all named Gasherbrum, (each one higher than 7,000m) which form a magnificent circle at the head of the Baltoro glacier. It is GI and GII that reach over 8,000m and these two mountains collectively are the 11th and 13th highest peaks in the world.
The route on GII offers uncomplicated climbing in an excellent and spectacular location. Well-organized and sufficiently resourced expeditions to this mountain have enjoyed high rates of success in recent years. To climb GII involves trekking to its base camp over a period of 7-9 days and then waiting for the conditions to become favourable for an ascent. The trek in to GII Base-camp is billed as the most exciting mountain trek out there and is in itself an adventure without equal. This long trek has the additional advantage of providing superb acclimatisation. A walk up the spectacular Baltoro glacier reveals many of the world's most famous peaks: Cathedral Spires, Masherbrum Trango Towers, Broad Peak, Mitre Peak, K2, Chogalisa and many more. Quite simply it is all that a Himalayan adventure should be.
Our climbing route of choice is the SW ridge. This route alternates between the ridge and the snow face, following the easiest line up snow and ice slopes weaving between crevasses and small ice-cliffs. Even though it is not hard to climb, the route is consistently steep, which means altitude is increased swiftly. Like on all mountains this size, the climb has some objective dangers but these are significantly fewer then on the neighbouring 8,000m peaks as the terrain is generally easier to ascend and also all the mountain camps are placed in safe sites. The route can be divided into several sections, each providing a good climbing challenge.
Base Icefall: The icefall has to be negotiated in order to reach the foot of the ridge. This icefall is generally traversable in around 7 hours (and the teams time through it decreases as we get more acclimatised). This icefall is in no way as imposing as the glaciers found on the other 8,000ers such as the Khumbu on Everest. 360 Expeditions with the help of the other teams on the mountain create and maintain a safe route through this section.
The southwest ridge: Camp 1 is placed at 5,900m above the icefall, near the foot of the southwest ridge. Fixed ropes and bamboo wands are generally placed on the whole route, from camp 1 to camp 3, though the path from camp 1 to camp 2 is significantly steeper and more exposed than the path from camp 2 to camp 3. Camp 2 is placed on a sheltered ridge at 6,500m. Camp 3 is on a shoulder at 7,000m, above the main part of the snow slope and beneath the imposing summit snow pyramid. From camp 3 the route continues up the southwest ridge to about 7,400m. This is the site of the infrequently used camp 4. Moving between camps we will aim to leave first thing in the morning to avoid the worst of the days heat .
Diagonal Traverse / Summit ridge: A lengthy rising and sloping traverse on snow leads under the summit pyramid and joins the East ridge at about 7,740m. This is then followed in a splendidly exposed situation, but with no great difficulty to the summit. With reasonable snow conditions, the summit day will involve about 10 hours of ascent starting at midnight. The best time to visit the Karakorum region of Pakistan is May through September. With June, July and August being the optimal climbing months.
The weather in the Karakorum is unpredictable, so we allow plenty of time to climb the mountain. Storms can last for several days followed by days of balmy weather in which we plan to establish high camps and ultimately climb to the summit. The outlined itinerary can also include an ascent of Gasherbrum I (8,080m). Naturally an ascent of this neighbouring giant depends on the ascent of GII being done in a reasonable time, the team being fit and sufficiently acclimatised and mountain conditions being favourable. GI is a more challenging peak and will require a more advanced set of climbing skills. Gasherbrum I can be climbed Alpine style via the Gasherbrum La and the Northwest Face. For those wanting to go the extra mile this is an option that can be achieved by paying the extra peak permits and the necessary logistical costs.
This expedition is geared at maximising the teams chances of reaching the summit of GII. To that effect, 360 Expeditions provides high quality ground crew and base camp services, equipment and leadership. This expedition cuts no corners in ensuring that a safe, expertly managed and well-resourced experience is provided for every team member. Team members are required to operate with a certain degree of self-sufficiency and have a solid understanding of basic Alpine techniques. Team members must also be very fit and have at least experienced the rigours of expedition life on similar mountain ventures before participating in an expedition of this magnitude. A detailed itinerary can be forwarded to those wishing to know more about climbing this amazing mountain, from the 360 team. The itinerary below is a guide only, and the duration could vary by a few days.
Predicted costs for Gasherbrum are indicative only and dependent on group size and local conditions. Clients need to be flexible with their time and the expedition duration is also subject to change.