Saturday, 30 August 2008

More Driving

When you launch into your second full day of driving you soon begin to realise how big the mountains around us are. Another full day, leaving at 6am and arriving in Skardu around 7.30pm where the drive was fantastic again, more spectacular and exciting roads. The first treat of the day was the view of Nanga Parbat 8125m, this is the first time i have seen an 8000m peak. You view it from the road at 1200m and the height gain to the summit from hère is probably the steepest on the planet. After we fought off the trinket sellers our next stop was one of the most unique places on the planet, a Small monument marks the point where you can stand and view the three highest mnt ranges in the World. The Karakorum, The Himalaya and The Hindu Kush. Further down the road we finally left the KKH and still following the The Hindus river we finally arrived in Skardu. We put our gear in the rooms at the Masherbrum Hotel and set off for a mini adventure around the bazar. 

After dinner we had to repack, the gear was broken down in 25kg chunks for our porters to carry.


A later start today and by 9am we were on the road in our new vehicles. A few hours shot by on the tarmac and then we left the road to begin our bumpy expérience. The scenery was gradually getting more and more impressive as was the road. Lunchtime brought us all back to the reality of life and how lucky we all are, we met with a man who tolds us of his sore neck and asked if we had a doctor. 

Pierre is and after a few questions he knew he probably suffered from Huntingtons Chorea, the neck soreness was due to his inability to control his movements all the time. With no money to travel to see a doctor the most we could do for him was to give him some painkillers and hopefully he will have  some sleep filled nights. We left the man with a smile after showing him some photos of him with his son and promissed to get him one. Back on the road and after a few fantastic only just standing bridges crossed and a few river crossings our guide Sherbaz , with a gréât big smile on his face happily informed us that the most dangerous part of getting to basecamp was just around the corner! As with most of the roads in the mountains they cross quite improbable terrain, criss crossing slopes of rubble that are always prone to collapse. Infact only a few days before the road was closed. We passed numerous small teams who spend all year keeping the road open. The last section was amazing, a zip zag line up a steep gully provided us with an excellent display of real 4x4 driving.

At last after another 30 minutes we arrived at our first camp in Askole, with the chickens in the pot, our tents pitched we settle into the usual mess tent discussions. Tomorrow we begin our first day walk in……..only 9hr. 

And now for a word from our French bloggers.

Askole, le 30 Aout,

Encore un départ matinal, en direction d`Askole point de départ du trekking.

Sur la piste défoncée, nous sommes tous impressionnes par la performance, de nos chauffeurs, devers, guets, ponts suspendus, lacets...

A midi, un repas est pris dans un village, les villageois ont appris que un médecin était de la partie, la consultation commence. On me présente  un homme de 45 ans, il en paraît 20 de plus….Il se plaint de mouvements amples qui l`empêchent de se déplacer, je n`ai rien a lui proposer de plus que de se rendre à Skardu et d en parler a un médecin, je pense qu`il souffre d`une chorée de Huntington…(le pronostic est sévère).

A 16 heure nous rejoignons le camp et plantons les tentes, demain matin nos 80 porteurs nous rejoindrons de bonne heure, les charges sont déjà reparties.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Honey to the rescue

Today was a long day, we awoke at 5am and now it is midnight. Most of the day has been spent driving/rallying along the spectacular Karakorum Highway. The KKH is over 1200km long and goes from just outside Islamabad through the Himalaya into China and during its construction over 600 lives were lost and its construction is often compared with the building of the Pyramids. After rising above the plains the driving became faster with numerous blind bend overtakes  and teetering on the edge of some impressive drops.

As we neared our planned lunch stop i could tell that Jerry was either tired or lacking in sugar. As a diabetic he always has a constant battle to keep his sugar levels under control. Today with such a long journey he missed judged his levels and began to go Hypo Glycemic. Luckily we brought him back to his sensés with some honey and a twix. Next time though if he carries on with the bad jokes we may make him suffer longer.

Back on the road it looks like the team are getting on gréât and as the drive continues i am sure we will develop some gréât frienships. The second half of  todays travel was the most dangerous, first up we encounter the landslides. Numerous storms wreak havoc on this road and it is a constant uphill battle to keep it open. The next challenge was to get through a police checkpoint without a correctly filled out permit. After some worried discussions we made it through. The final hurdle was a long one, with a number of random delays we were behind schedule by about 3hrs, with darkness coming we entered bandit country and with our driver and guide worried the speed increased and the blind bends came faster.  Without any further issues though we arrived at the Panorama hôtel in time for our next curry!




Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Islamabad, 27th August 7am

This first day in Islamabad and we have been booked in to the Shalimar Hotel. We met the Jasmine tour group and we
 made the final trekking fee payments and paid our helicopter bond. We went into
 the city to buy food for the wall and tomorrow we rise at 5am for 12hrs car, after a second day of driving we will
 arrive in Skardu. The sights and sounds of a new country are always fantastic, it reminds me a little of Madagascar. The
 way they make bricks at the side of the road and children recycling plastic for little money. Today we have really
 only seen commercial Pakistan and tomorrow The Karakorum Highway will take us to the

More news about Tomaz, he has left by plane to Skardu but the helicopter cannot take off yet due to the weather. Communication has been lost with their Base Camp probably due to a lack of battery power.

On a more cheerfull note i will leave you with one thought....How good are goats at balancing?


Just Landed

We have just landed in Islamabad. We hear it is snowing in base camp. We hear this because we met Tomas Humar on the plane. He is on a rescue mission to rescue 3 Slovenian climbers from Mustagh Tower. The lost team is also like us a Millet expedition project; one person is presumed dead, one unsure and one descends. We may go to help as we have a doctor with us. We have so much respect for what Thomas is doing, he has not slept for two days and is flying straight to base camp.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Finally we are off!

Yes we did it! 6 months of stress, planning, and organisation involving a heady mixture of Polish, French, English and general bullshit has led to this - Starbuck's, Terminal 4, Heathrow! As ever with an international team of crazy climbers just getting here was epic. Pierre and Jerry nearly came to grief during a super fast alpine drive to Lyon airport involving a collision with a fox, and a mini hypo (Jerry is a diabetic!). David and Eliza just made it through customs and had to take a tent, huge silver camera case, plus two large rucksacks all as hand luggage. They were the last to join us and now we are 6 - ready for Pakistan and that beautiful golden spire of granite -Trango - the free dream is about to start!

Finally we are off!

Monday, 25 August 2008

The Adventure Begins

The packing and planning is over and now its time to sleep. Tomorrow I take a coach to Heathrow at 6.30am and the long Journey to Base camp begins. We will be there within a week. My flight leaves Heathrow at 6pm and i join the rest of the crew who are taking it from Lyon. I think tomorrow when i am finally on the flight i will be able to relax, all the tensions of the last few weeks will hopefully be gone. Following in the footsteps of Brown, Boysen, Gullich, Albert, Pritchard and Wainwright i think its time to go big and take up one of the greatest free climbing challenges on the planet.Trango here we come and with it the fulfillment of a childhood dream. 

Tuesday, 19 August 2008


Le jour du départ se rapproche...
Les coinceurs d'un côté, les cordes de l'autre, et les caméras et le choix précis des habits et plein de petites choses tout aussi importantes les unes que les autres. Nos partenaires, c'est la base de cette préparation minutieuse et qui nous garantit du matériel adapté!
Le RÊVE d'une paroi extraordinaire, mais aussi de celui de découvrir un pays avec les rencontres et les échanges avec ses habitants; et partir avec des Amis anglais, polonais, français, c'est cela aussi le voyage...

Denis R

Monday, 18 August 2008

Mild Panic

Well most things seem to be going to plan. Only mild panic has set in, we only have 7 days until we leave and 4 post days  left. Last minute gear requests have been sent out and thankfully DMM and Petzl have come up with the goods. DMM supplied a zip line and Frank Bennett from Lyon sorted us out with a full Petzl bolting kit. Nice one chaps. Tomorrow i am off to shop for a few bits then in the afternoon i am gonna get packing.