We were up at 5:00AM packing our bags and dropping tents, and within 30 minutes, most of us were getting a quick breakfast before heading out on the trail.
The hike today was going to be long and hot with a couple of rivers to cross. As we started out the temperature was already 80 degrees Fahrenheit, the sun was up, and the sky was deep blue without a cloud to be seen.
I was looking forward to getting going and putting some miles on my feet, as the last time I was really moving was on the trek from Everest base camp to Lukla in early May. After passing a small military check post, I headed out, moving quickly. It was great to be out on the trail. The path was well worn and moved from rounded river rocks to shale to sand. When I was here many years ago the river crossings were either shoes off and wading through, or boxes on cables. Today I crossed the Jola River on a wooden rickety suspension bridge – progress!
The porters at Askole needed to be registered and then given their loads. All this took about 2 hours, so they got a slow start.
In the end we had to hire 495 porters to carry the gear needed to get up Broad Peak and K2, in addition to our team of 4 local high altitude porters, 10 Nepali Sherpa, 2 western guides, 14 clients, and 6 local cooks.
As the morning wore on the wind started to pick up and dust began to blow. I put on a jacket and a scarf to keep the dust out of my eyes and avoid inhaling it. It was cooler now as well, which was actually better for hiking.
As the trail gained a side hill high above the Baltoro River it turned a corner and headed up the Biafo River (which flows out of the Biafo glacier). The trail continued to go up the river valley and dropped down to the sandy river edge, which made the walking harder and slower. Farther up this valley there is a narrow place to cross the river (although in ’87 we crossed in our underwear as we were too lazy to hike another mile or more up the valley). The trail kept going and going and I couldn’t see the crossing until finally a little wooden suspension bridge peered over the rocky horizon. After crossing it, the trail wound back the other way, down the valley to the Jola campsite. I reached it just after 11:00AM, completing a 5 hour hike.