Standing tall in the peaks of the Karakoram range lies K2 (2nd highest mountain in the World). Climbers from all around the world turn to K2 Base Camp in Pakistan to climb some part of this legendary peak.
A faint-hearted person might not be the right fit for this trek, however, if you are some adventure seeker who has the heart to go through challenges, the K2 trek is going to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for you.
In this K2 base camp trek guide, I have mentioned everything you need to know. Whether you are a foreigner or a local, all the necessary information is mentioned here.
NOTE: K2 is known as Chogori in the Balti language. The word ‘Chogo’ means ‘Big’ and ‘Ri’ means ‘Mountain’. Thus, the word Chogori means big mountain.
What Is K2 Base Camp Trek?
The trekking toward the base camp of the 2nd highest mountain in the world is called the K2 Base camp trek. It is one of the most challenging hikes, yet climbers from all around the world come for this adventurous experience.
The trek is full of stunning views, rocky pathways, and many glaciers. It is the site where you can see a lot of other high peaks of the Karakoram range.
The Altitude of Base Camp
This giant peak is at an altitude of 8,611 meters. However, the K2 base camp height is almost 5000 meters.
How To Trek To The Base Camp
There is no solo trekking option available for this adventure. You will have to be in the form of groups to take part in this thrilling experience. Worry not as you can join different groups consisting of almost 7-8 people. You are not expected to bring a companion along with you.
The trekking starts from Skardu. Therefore, if you are a local, try reaching Skardu. International tourists can land in Islamabadand then take a further journey to Skardu.
NOTE: If you have booked yourself a tour company, they will be responsible for taking you from Islamabad airport to Skardu.
From Skardu, all the groups take a jeep ride to Jhula Camp. Initially, the groups used to go to the Askole Village. However, they have made a new jeep trap and now you can go on a jeep to Jhula Camp.
TIP: If you are on a long trip and can spare a day, you can visit the beautiful Skardu Valley.
After this camp, the rest of the journey is on foot. The trekkers then trek for a few days to reach the Baltoro Glacier.
Baltoro Glacier is the 5th longest non-polar glacier in the world. It is approximately 63 km long, therefore, the trekkers spend most of their time walking around this giant.
The walk around the glacier becomes more interesting when you reach the intersection of theGodwin-Austen Glacier. This place is also famous by the name of Concordia or “Throne Room of the Gods‘.
It would be fair to call Concordia the best viewpoint in the entire journey. You can get a 360° view of all the surrounding peaks. Some of the most famous peaks you can see include Broad Peak, Gasherbrum 4, Mitre Peak, and K2 itself.
NOTE: According to the myths, one night spent under Concordia can add a year to your life.
After resting at Concordia, the trekkers can continue their journey toward their final destination; K2 Base Camp.
Two Options for Coming Back
After spending quality time on the base camp and admiring the view you put so much effort into, you have to come back. There are two main options you can choose to come back.
One is of course the same way you went up. This option is more convenient and takes less time. If you are on a short tour, we suggest you take this option.
However, for those who wish to explore more and add a few new points to their memory, the 2nd option is the best. Instead of coming back, you can go a little further toGondogoro Laand spend one night there.
This option is also referred to as K2 Gondogoro La Trek where you use ropes and a harness to climb up to the Upper Baltoro glacier. You further have to climb the Vigne glacier.
Additionally, the trekkers are supposed to climb Gondogoro La pass which is at a height of approximately 5585 meters.
Although going up the peak is interesting, the journey back to Skardu from the top will make you realize how it was worth every effort. You can get to walk on the Gondogoro glacier as well as the lateral moraine.
There is the opportunity of exploring the sceneries with high peaks, glaciers, and even pasturelands. This route will lead you to Hushe valley, where you can get a jeep to Skardu.
Islamabad → Skardu → Jhula Camp → Paiju → Khoburtse → Urdukas → Goro 2 → Concordia → K2 Base Camp (You can follow the same route to come back)
K2 BaseCamp → Concordia → Ali Camp → Gondogoro-La-Pass → Kuisbang → Saicho → Hushe Valley → Skardu.
Wildlife On The Track
Some famous animals that you can see on your journey toward the basecamp include the Himalayan Ibex, Snow Leopard, and Himalayan Black Bear. However, you can see the Lammergeier, Golden Eagle, and Snow Partridge in birds.
How To Train For The Trekking
Before planning the adventurous tour, you must understand that the K2 base camp trek is not like any regular trek you have done before. Even if you have experienced the Rakaposhi base camp trek, this experience is going to be completely different.
Therefore, you must be physically and mentally trained before going on the journey. Many people do not know how to train for trekking. I have compiled a list of things you can do to train yourself.
Many people have been going to the gym to lose weight but did you know you can use it to train yourself for trekking?
You need to understand that during the trek, the most used part of your body is your legs, therefore, you need to train your legs the most. You can start initially by doing core strengthening exercises.
Moreover, you need to focus more on your calves and quadriceps. You can either use the treadmill for this or stair climbers.
NOTE: Check in the nearby gyms and know if they provide any specific trekking training sessions.
A 30-45 minute session in the gym is enough to train you. However, you must consider giving yourself the break and letting your muscles heal.
Apart from strong legs, the most important thing you need to have is stamina. The K2 trek is very steep and one of the most difficult ones in the world.
The best way to increase stamina is through simple exercises like swimming, jogging, and cycling. These cardio exercises can do wonders in increasing your stamina and making you fit for the hike.
There is no better way of training yourself for a hike than hiking itself. You might not get a chance to do a test hike on K2, however, you can go out and choose any uneven trail for the hike.
If it is hard to find any uneven hiking track, go for some steep paths or climb up stairs. After some time, start wearing a backpack for practice too.
You can start with some light weights and then gradually increase them. The goal is to be able to hike with almost 24 lbs weight.
Get Close To K2 Base Camp Conditions
Once your body is ready with all the training, you need to start training under conditions close to the K2 Base Camp trek. Understand the challenges you will face there and prepare yourself for them.
Prepare yourself to sleep on a thin mattress with a cold surface. Start by making your body habitual of the cold.
Learn A Few Stretches
Hiking can result in sore muscles, no matter how much you train. Although you can not avoid sore muscles, you can learn to treat them.
Stretching is the best way to get rid of muscular pain and tiredness. They help a person sleep better(which you will need on the hike). Moreover, it helps with warming up your body, especially in the morning after a cold night’s sleep.
Learn a few stretches that can help you loosen up your muscles and heal them.
Watch Your Nutrition
Food is the most important thing in life. It is the source of energy for your organs and the meaning of living. They also play an important role in making up muscles and health.
Take a diet rich in protein so your muscles can gain strength and make you fully prepared.
K2 Base Camp Trek Information
As mentioned early, trekking to K2 is not something you can do on your own. It is not something you can plan in a night, instead, it needs a lot of training, planning, and prior information.
The trek is not an everyday hike. You need to understand that you will not be seeing any hotels, or even humans other than your group mates during the entire hiking journey.
I have gathered all the necessary information you need to have before showing up at K2.
Distance And Requirement
This is not a one-day trek. You will be in the mountains for more than 16 days. However, if you choose the long return route, the trip can extend to almost21 days.
Moreover, the trek is not a simple one. You will be needing the best of your health along with basic rope and ice-axe-using skills. It is also necessary for the participant to have at least one high-altitude hike experience.
Access for Foreigners
Unlike other hikes, the K2 base camp trek requires foreigners to get a No objection Certificate(NOC) and a licensed guide before the journey. The process is simple.
Therefore, foreign travelers can easily get everything necessary.
Camping Gears And Equipment
Since there are no hotels on your way to K2, the only source of accommodation is camping. The tents can either be rented or the travelers can bring their own.
Know about what to pack for K2 Base Camp Trekking before leaving for the adventure and become sure that you do not skip anything necessary.
NOTE: You can have a porter carry the lounge for you.
The cheaper and more expensive facilities are also available. The cheaper one will have a few basic facilities. However, the expensive ones will even have toilets within the camp.
NOTE: When making a stay, make sure you do not throw litter and keep the environment clean.
Safety And Security
Whether it is a foreigner or a local, traveling to the K2 Base camp is full of risks. There have been many incidents in the past as well. However, there are security measures that you can choose to reduce the risk.
Keep in mind that the precautions only lessen the risks. There will still be the probability of incidents happening.
Best Time To Go The Base Camp Trekking
The best time to plan the trekking adventure is during July and August. It is one of the most famous seasons when climbers and trekkers from all around the world summit K2.
If you plan a trip apart from these days, there will be a high chance of disappointment. The entire tracks will be covered in heavy snow and therefore hard to get a NOC.
NOTE: Despite the trekking season, you should expect to encounter rain, snow, and dropping in temperature at night.
Tips for a Successful K2 Base Camp Trek: Lessons Learned from Experienced Trekkers
You might get the idea that hiking to the base camp is not something you can just plan while sitting on your couch. Those who have been to the K2 Base Camp have a lot to guide others.
Learn from the experience of others so you might not repeat the same mistakes.
Kate Fletcher, a famous travel blogger, shared her experience of the trek and said, “By the time we got to our first camp for the trek, after 7 hard hours of hiking, I was the most dehydrated I have ever been in my whole life. Water is important folks, and I definitely learned from my mistakes on that first day!”
Ralph, another travel blogger, shared his experience of the hike and suggested how you can overcome boredom. According to him, “The wilderness is not always accommodating….. Boredom can also set in, especially on days when there is not much walking to do. A good book, journaling, cards, photography, mountain bocce, and so on”
However, another traveler, Chris, stated, “Because of time constraints, some groups opt to do Concordia to K2 BC and back in a single day. I wholeheartedly don’t suggest this option; it is a death march and you will not enjoy K2 Base Camp nearly as much if you don’t spend a few nights here”
All these professionals have been to Pakistan and have shared their first-hand experiences. Although they have the best time of their life, there are a few things they wish to have known before.
Understand that no trip is going to be perfect, however, advice from someone who has been to the area before can save you from making the same mistakes again.
Why Trek To K2 Base Camp
Now that you know everything about the trek, the question that comes to mind is why would you risk so much?
The trek to the K2 base camp is not something everyone can do, which means nature is still in its raw form there. The trek might be challenging but where is the fun if there is not a little bit of challenge?
Besides, why miss a chance of climbing the base camp of the 2ndhighest peak?
This trek is not just a source of adventure but is a great way of learning about the culture and historyof the area. If you are lucky enough, you can witness any cultural festival of the locals too.
With all the information. I have provided, the only thing you need now is to save money and hire a tour guide company.
Why is trekking to K2 Base Camp difficult?
Due to its high altitude, steep and rocky land, and unpredictable weather conditions, K2 Base Camp Trekking is considered a challenging trek. It demands high physical fitness, a trekking experience, and sufficient warming.
What type of accommodation is offered for the K2 Base Camp Trek?
On the K2 Base Camp Trek, most people stay in tents, while some hotels and guesthouses may be offered in particular areas. They will not be on track, but in areas like Skardu. If you plan to remain in a tent, make sure you have enough camping gear and equipment.
What kind of food is available on the trek?
Cereal, porridge, eggs, toast or chapati, tea, and coffee are available for breakfast. Lunch is typically a picnic of canned fish, canned meats, cheese, and biscuits or chapatis, occasionally accompanied by hot soup and noodles and completed with tea or coffee.
How can I avoid altitude sickness on the trek?
The best way to avoid altitude sickness is to drink a lot of water and eat less. You should avoid waiting apart from the meal times. Moreover, it is best to reduce your meat consumption.
Is Pakistan safe for International Travelers?
The topic of Pakistan’s safety has been one of the major concerns for international tourists. Although there have been incidents in the past, the current state of Pakistan is safe.
All international tourists can go there without the fear of any major incident. Small incidents, like mugging, might still happen. One must always take precautionary measures.
What kind of flowers/plants can I see on my trek to the base camp?
Among plant species that can be viewed on the walk include the Edelweiss, a high-altitude flower that blooms in rocky regions. Moreover, mosses, lichens, and hardy shrubs are among the other plants found.