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Baltistan is proud of having the world’s second highest mountain K – 2 (28,250 ft). It defied all attempts at its conquest but was brought to its knee finally on 31-7-1954 by the Italian Team led by Professor Dasio. Baltistan is really a mountaineer’s paradise as it has more than 20 peaks of over 20,000 feet. The other well known peaks are Masherbrum popularly known as K – 1, Broad Peak, Hidden Peak, Gasherbrum II, Gasherbrum IV and Chogolisa situated in Khaplu valley. The following peaks have so far been scaled by various expeditions:
|Name of peak||Name of Expedition||Date of Conquest|
|K – 2 (28,250 ft)||Italian Karakoram Expeditoin by Prof. Dr. A. Daiso||31-07-1954|
|Gasherbrum II (26,360 ft)||Australian Himalaya Karakoram Expedition 1957 led by Mr. King. Fritz Maravoc||07-07-1956|
|Mustagh Tower (23,800 ft)||British Baltoro Expedition led by Mr. J.H. Hartog.||06-08-1956|
|Broad Peak (26,550 ft)||Austrian Karakoram Expedition 1957 led by Mr. Harcus Schmuch||09-06-1957|
|Hidden Peak (Gasherbrum I) (26,470 ft)||American Karakoram Mountaineering Expedition by Mr. Nicholas B. Clinch||04-07-1957|
|Gasherbrum IV (26,120 ft)||Italian Alpine Club Mountaineering Expedition led by Mr. Riccardo Cassin||04-07-1958|
|Pyramid (23,158 ft)||Frankfurt Himalaya Expedition (German)||05-07-1955|
|Chogolisa (25,200 ft)||Academic Alpine Club Koyoto Karakoram Expedition led by Mr. T. Kuwabara||04-08-1958|
|Mount Ghent (Kondus Peak) (24,278 ft)||Austrian Karakoram Expedition 1961 led by Erich Waschoil||04-06-1961|
|Baltoro Kangri (24,600 ft)||Tokyo University (Japan) Karakoram Expedition led by Dr. Shihei||04-08-1963|
K – 6, K – 12, Masherbrum (K – 1), Paiju Peak, Malubiting, Sharpi Kangri, Latok, Taram Kangri, Kyang Kangri have not been conquered so far. Baltistan is also the land of vast glaciers. The largest glaciers of the world outside of Polar region are found here. Baltoro is an enormous glacier lying at the head of the Braldu valley. It runs east and west. Coloneal Montgomery estimated its length at 36 miles and its breadth from one to two mile and half. Dr. Neve has described Boltoro as under:
“Askole is a world’s end, surrounded by veritable glacial areas. East is the baltoro glacier, the longest except Siachen out of the Arctic region. Conway’s party followed it up in July 1891, and ascended a lofty peak. Pioneer peak (23000 feet), at its head between Mount Gasherbrum and the great ‘K – 2’ which is 28,200 feet high. Eckenstein reconnoitered K – 2 in 1902 and camped on its glacier at 19,000 feet for over a month. He has given the name Chigoro for K – 2.
There is little hope of any mountaineers ascending K – 2, which is too steep and icy”
Baifo is a glacier in the Mustagh range running down into Braldu valley to the east of Askole. It terminates at an elevation of 10,145 feet. Its broad belt of ice and moraine stretching right across the plain for more than a mile and half, completely hides Braldo river which flows beneath it, the terminal portion of the glacier abutting against the cliffs on the opposite side of the valley. Col. Montgomery has estimated its length at 54 miles in an almost perfectly straight line.
The Baifo – Hisper glacier together form a passage of 76 miles, which is the longest glacier traverse outside the Arctic region.
Baltistan possesses gorgeous scenic beauty. Shigar valley is one of the rare beauty spots. It is about 25 miles long and three miles broad with cultivation on both sides of river Shigar. Shigar river if formed by the confluence of Basho and Braldu rivers. It has a length of about 24 miles from the confluence and flows into river Indus opposite Skardu. Orchards of apricots extend for miles and miles and when the leaves change colors in autumn, the sight is marvelous. Mr. Fasco Maraini who paid a visit to Baltistan in 1954 was delighted with this area and has described it in the following words:
“Shigar is not only a rare beauty spot. It interests the traveler on various grounds. It was pity we had to hurry on. Its oasis may well be the richest and best cared for in all Baltistan. Some figures alone give a striking idea of it; fifteen kilometers long, it has some 20,000 inhabitants. Village succeeds village every one of them lost in thickest clusters of trees that one can imagine”.
Khaplu valley is also a beautiful spot and is worth visiting. Khaplu proper is spread in a radius of about two square miles. It is a mass of orchard consisting of lacs of apricot trees. River Shyok flows through the entire length of Khaplu valley and joins and Indus River at Kiris. The length of the river from Chulunka to Kiris is about 91 miles. The united rivers of Saltoro-Kundas and Hushey join the Shyok at Khaplu
Baltistan has a number of beautiful lakes. Kachura and Satpara lakes are matchless. Some of the foreigners who visited Kuchura lake were no much fascinated that they have been heard saying that they have not seen a better lake than Kachura. A good two room Rest House exists at Kachura. The lake is full of trout. There is also another lake called Upper Kachura Lake. One has to walk about three furlongs from the jeep road in order to reach it.
Satpara Lake is a man – made lake. It has also an island. It was Ali Sher Khan Anchan, “the Great” , who constructed the Satpara Bund during his reign (1580 – 1624). The bund is considered to be an engineering feet. Miss Duncan has described it in the following words:
“The barrage crosses the river just where it leaves the lake is about 14 feet high and 6 feet thick and has two tiers of doors 6 inches each tier, each door being 5’ x 1’-9” with deep, smoothly cut, semicircular grooves to receive the rounded edges of the dressed granite slabs, now lying in the water below which were used to close them”.
A two room Rest House on the bank of the lake and one Tourist Hut in the Island have been constructed for the benefit of Tourists. This lake has also been stocked with trout. A great Wall from Shagarthant to Thurgo over mountains and rocks having forts and watch towers was constructed by Ali Sher Khan Anchan. The remnants of this wall and bastions can still be seen near the Satpara Lake.
About two miles above Skardu town towards Satpara Lake there is a Budda’s Stupa in Hargis Nullah.
The third lake called Sarfaranga is situate near shigar and has also been stocked with trout. The fourth lake called Katpana is a man – made lake for the irrigation of lands and during winter is full of ducks.
Lastly there is a small lake at Bara Pain on way to Khaplu in the bottom of which beautiful colors can be seen