Biafo, Hispar and Snow Lake – Karakoram Trekking

Altitude 5151m, Grade T6

Visit ‘The Last Blank on the Map’ the pristine Snow Lake. A fantastic glacial journey.

Karakoram Trekking


A journey along the ‘highway of ice’ that connects the two ancient kingdom of Hunza and Baltistan. The Biafo and the Hispar glaciers are linked at the shallow pass of the Hispar La, cutting a non-technical route through the mountains in the heart of the Karakorum. This great trek will surely be on any serious mountain trekker’s hit list, and really does take you to one of the wildest places in the Karakoram.

Eric Shipton described the 16km wide Snow Lake at the head of the Biafo glacier as ‘the last blank on the map’. The Latok group of peaks are among the many spectacular jagged spires that tower above the glacier, helping to create one of the finest mountain views in the world.

Trekking up a glacier is demanding – sometimes walking on rocky moraine, sometimes through grassy valleys between the lateral moraines and the valley sides, and at the higher altitudes on pristine white ice and then snow, where we rope up for security in the crevassed areas. The highlight is camping on the Hispar La itself – with plenty of time to absorb the scenery into minds and cameras. At the end of the trek we descend into the spectacular Hunza valley, dominated by Rakaposhi (7788m) and home to the friendly and hospitable Hunza people, who are also renowned for their longevity believed to be linked to their diet of apricots!

Trip dossier

Biafo – Hispar and Snow Lake Trek

Days 1/2 Depart UK, arriving Islamabad the next day and transfer to the hotel for a few hours’ sleep. After an early breakfast we return to the airport for the flight to Skardu, which usually departs mid-morning. Given good weather this is perhaps the most spectacular commercial flight in the world, with magnificent views of Nanga Parbat the ninth highest mountain in the world. The flight however will not operate in poor weather, and you must be prepared for a wait in Islamabad of the flight is cancelled.

Day 3/4 After a free day in Skardu,we travel by Jeep to Askole, the last village between us and K2, This journey takes about 7 hours and is on very rough narrow tracks often blocked / damaged by landslides.

Day 5 Initially we follow the K2 basecamp route along a dirt track towards the Biafo Glacier. Before the crossing of the Biafo River, our track veers left, climbs over a rocky shoulder onto the moraine and onto the glacier. We head of the left side to the grassy campsite behind the lateral moraine. 7 to 8 hours walking.

Day 6 A challenging day walking up the rocky medial moraine in the centre of the glacier before returning to the left bank to another grassy campsite. Latok-I (7145m), Latok II (7108m) and Latok III (6949m) are all visible from here.  5 hours walking.

Day 7 Back to the centre of the glacier to walk, more easily now, up a broad strip of ice before crossing to the right bank to camp. From here we can see up to the pass. 6 hours walking.

Day 8Our first acclimatisation day with the option to head up the ridge behind camp for views of the Latok group and the Ogre. This is Ibex country so keep your eyes peeled! Walking optional.

Day 9 A tricky descent takes us back down onto the glacier where we can enjoy more relatively flat, even walking. Soon we come across our first crevasses where a rope may be required for security. Great views of the Ogre (7813m), Hispa La and Snow Lake. 6 hours walking.

Day 10 We wend our way through a network of crevasses, roping up as and when required, to reach the southern edge of the mighty Snow Lake which is over 16 km wide.  5 to 6 hours walking.

Day 11 Our second acclimatisation day to rest and soak up the scenery of go and explore the vastness of Snow Lake. Walking optional.

Day 12 We cross Snow Lake, becoming insignificant dots in its vastness, and ascend gently to the Hispar La where we will camp for the night. More stunning views greet us – back across Snow Lake to the Ogre and down the other side to the peaks above the Hunza Valley.  5 to 6 hours walking.

Day 13 From our bird’s eye camp we start or descent down the Hispar Glacier. There are more crevasses to negotiate before getting onto the flatter glacier below. We cross the Kani Basa glacier and make for another fine grassy campsite off to the side. 7 hours walking.

Day 14/17 For the next four days we make our way down the Hispar Glacier. The walking is mixed (we should know that by now!), the hardest sections usually being where side glaciers have to be crossed. Sometimes we will follow the centre of the glacier, at other times the lateral moraine ridges. Glacial streams flow fastest late in the day and it can be an interesting challenge to get across them. There are a number of grassy campsites we can use, so we don’t specify exactly where we stay as conditions vary from year to year. We eventually reach greenery and civilisation at Hispar village, where, depending on the condition of the road we may meet our vehicles or we may need to walk on down to Huru. 5 to 7 hours walking per day.

Day 18 A couple of hours drive takes us to the Karakorum Highway (KKH) where we turn right and head up to the Hunza ‘capital’ of Karimabad. After a long awaited shower we can relax in the afternoon and enjoy this stunning valley, famed for its orchards of apricots and incredibly friendly people.

Day 19 Free time and sightseeing in Hunza and Karimabad. We can visit the 13th century forts at Alti and Baltit perched in dramatic positions above the Hunza River.

Day 20 We either  fly to Islamabad from Gilgit or if the flight is cancelled drive to Chilas.

Day 21 Free day in Islamabad or drive to Islamabad via the spectacular Barbusa Pass.

Days 22/23 Depart Islamabad, arriving home the following day.

  • Estimated International flights from London (flight inclusive package
  • Accommodation – 6 nights hotels, 14 nights camping
  • Meals – 21 breakfasts, 16 lunches, 17 evening meals
  • Park fees as appropriate
  • All road transfers in country (unless indicated in ‘exclusions’)
  • Domestic flights in Pakistan
  • Qualified UK group tour leader (subject to minimum numbers)
  • Local guides
  • Local trekking staff to assist (cook and porters)
  • Trekking permit
  • All camping equipment (excl. personal kit)
  • Adventure Peaks kitbag. A logoed top will be substituted for all clients residing outside of the UK and returning clients
  • 24hr back-up and support from our UK staff
  • 15% discount from the RRP on clothing and equipment from Adventure Peaks shop
  • Meals if not indicated in ‘inclusions’
  • Travel Insurance
  • Drinks and personal spending
  • Personal equipment
  • Tips for local staff
  • Visas (£104 for UK nationals)
  • Museum and monument entry fees
  • Costs associated with an expedition finishing early, or you leaving an expedition early
  • Costs associated with extending a trip due to bad weather or other circumstances.

It is vitally important that you have adequate travel insurance for your trip with Adventure Peaks. We recognise the complexity and variety of choice in the insurance market and know that many of you either have your own preferred insurer or have annual multi trip cover in place already. If this is the case, please ensure that your insurer is aware of your Adventure Peaks itinerary and can agree to cover the activities being undertaken.

Adventure Peaks do not provide any advice on travel insurance, although it is a requirement of our booking conditions that you have travel insurance which covers the activities which you are likely to be undertaking on your holiday. Cover must include emergency medical, helicopter evacuation, repatriation and rescue expenses.

It is strongly recommended that suitable cancellation insurance is purchased at the time of booking as all deposits are non-refundable and non-transferable.

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