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brad’s Travel Diary

Sunday, 22 Jul 2007

Location: Rakaposhi Base Camp Trek, Pakistan

MapAs we arrive in Minapin, the beginning for treks to Rakaposhi base camp, I re-affirm thoughts of never wanting to live in a city again. We stroll down one of only 2 streets in town wide enough for a vehicle and pass primitive mud/stone walled homes, subsistance orchards of apple and apricot, crops of potato, corn, greens and gunja. Gunja plants run a conspicuous line between the road and corn fields, I speculate a wiser layout, perhaps gunja in the middle of the corn field next to a rottweiler on a chain. Peaceful Minapin sits high up on a hillside in an immense valley of towering mountains, the Huna river flowing below and Minapin river casacades from a glacier above. Cloud has decended on the valley; the grey skies, grey glacial water and barren rock mountains present no hinderance to the resonate tranquility - how perfect it must be when the sun is shining. Despite poor weather we decide to climb to Rakaposhi base camp and allow 2 days at the top for clouds to disperse. Pete nor I have done any serious exercise for the last 6 weeks, evident once we gain altitude. As a conservative rule no more than 300m in sleeping altitude should be gained once trekking over 3000m. But as we find our intended first campsite over-run with porters for a Swiss climbing expedition we pressed on to R.P. base camp, gaining a total of 1260m. The last 2hrs is taxing, the altitude difference weighing us down, cold winds ripping across the glacier cut straight to the bone. Back in Minapin Pete hesitated in bringing his gloves, beanie and thermals in a bid to save on pack weight, thankfully common sense prevailed and he can now justify 'excess baggage'. This time of the year in Pakistan's northern provinces day temperatures sit around 35deg at 1500m and for every 1000m increase in elevation about 6deg in relative temp. is lost. Therefore if trekking to say a 5000m pass it will get no warmer than 15deg and overnight fall below freezing. Couple that with a run of bad weather and it can rapidly turn cold. Arriving at R.P. base camp we search for a patch of grass sans cow shit. In summer herders escort their cattle high into the alpine pastures to graze, much to our dissapointment. Thankfully the mountains are pristine and for the next 2 days we explore the area around camp, drinking copious amounts of tea waiting for a glimpse of the 7788m R.P. summitt.