The last glimpse back. There she stands. Her Majesty K2. Wonderful and magnificent. Shrouded in haze, her peak concealed from our sight by white clouds, as if to make it less painful for us... For the last time this year, the Base Camp at the foot of the mountain is waking up into a hectic morning; mountaineers from around the globe are about to say their good bye. After six weeks a caravan of Pakistani porters from the valley are back so as to help us pack up the expedition stuff. This year’s season is over. The score? Nobody has made it to the top for the second consecutive year. But nothing serious happened to anybody either, we’re all getting home!
Only a thing or two were left to do: get our butts over the distance of 140 km to pass the valley and its glaciers and get back to Askole, then jump on a jeep and get to Skardu, hope for good weather and finally take a flight over to Islamabad.
Or… wait a minute, our liaison officer suggested we could cut across the Gondogoro pass instead, which is said to be a much shorter route and much more scenic too. Who could possibly resist a temptation like this?
We took off at 5 a.m. and set a lazy pace – we ain’t no trekkers are we. We’d been told that the first day should be a piece of cake, on the next day we’ll be up for some serious walking (overnight pass over the saddle at 5,700 m) whereas the last one was supposed to be no more than a few hours needed to reach the first village where a bunch of cars will pick us up.
Indeed, the cars were there; we sank into back seats and boy did we need it. Enough is enough: over the past three days we’d barely slept for 5 hours in total, and the rest felt like walking across half the Karakoram, that’s what I call ending in style. In total apathy we were indifferently taking notice of the landscape from our back seats and didn’t even care what our suicidal driver was up to. In those 3 days we accomplished what trekkers need 10 days for!
Our reward is hard earned and well deserved: the first night in a hotel – with a real bed and a real shower!