THE LAND OF W.A.R. We packed our bags early and paid the bill then set off to walk up to the minibus station. Halfway there, a minibus pulled up beside us and the driver proffered us his card: P.T.D.C.¹
He offered to take us up to Karimabad for RS35 each, provided we stay the night at the PTDCmotel for RS60 rupees each. We agreed to this and piled our gear onto the roof, and half an hour later we entered the land of W.A.R: water rock and air.
The broad shingle valley of the Hunza River quickly narrowed and the peaks above shut out the sun, throwing the right-hand side of the valley into a cold gloomy shadow. Across all the opposite bank, the old Silk Road followed the contours of the mountains through precarious bluffs and across fans of running grey shingle.
The road rose sharply, in places cut into the solid rock, or taking sharp turns to cross deep, ragged ravines. Below the towering flanks of Mount Rakaposhi, 25,000 feet of solid ice and wind-blasted rock, the Silk Road crossed a sheer face of bare rock, clinging to cracks shored up with walls of neatly built rocks. Every inch of arable land was terraced and every patch of land had a cluster of flat-roof houses and stands of tall bare apricot trees.
We stopped a village called Aliabad, at 8,000 feet, and were surprised to be told by our PTDC man that this was where we would be staying and that Karimabad was “just up the road!” The hotel, which was called Rakaposhi View Hotel, was cold, with no heating, no running water, and the promised ibex stew was distinctly muttony.
We wandered around for a bit, but there was nothing to see or do so we sat in one of the rooms and played arsehole!
It was a full moon at night, and after we had eaten dinner I went up onto the roof of the hotel and took some time exposures of Rakaposhi: a stark, sterile giant of rock and ice seen in negative through the crackling air.
¹Another government organisation, the Pakistan Tourism Development Commission.
NOTE: This text is from the Wikipedia entry for Rakaposhi. The Karakoram Highway link also has some interesting information.
Rakaposhi is notable for its exceptional rise over local terrain. On the north, it rises 5,900 metres (19,357 ft) in only an 11.2 km (7 mi) horizontal distance from the Hunza-Nagar River. There are views of Rakaposhi from the Karakoram Highway on the route through Nagar.
Rakaposhi is the only mountain in the world which rises straight from beautifully cultivated fields to the height of 25,550 feet. From many places, this wonderful spectacle can be viewed right from the base to the top.