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Tuesday, 16 August 2016

The North West Sirkhata Pass, Supat Valley Kohistan

After two days of tough hike on a steep ascent; at last we reached to Sirkhata Lake. In this hike, we also have crossed an unnamed mountain pass which was above 4300 meter in height. This pass located in north-east direction of Sirkhata Lake.

The next question for us was to decide which route we should opt for returning back. We got three options; first, was to be choosing the same trek from which, we had descended down the earlier day to this valley; i.e. the north east mountain pass but that doesn’t end up at Supat Pass and we wanted to see that as well. Also that trek was quite tough and the last portion of this pass was too steep, it was difficult to climb this portion in snow without having proper gear. 

Second option was to trek up to Shames village and then hike on jeep road up to Supat top. According to locals it is a lengthier route and would take a full day to reach Supat top. Even reaching Shames village would take three to four hours from Sirkhata Lake. Before going to this trek I have checked Shames village altitude on Google Earth, it was around 3400 meter and from there going to Supat top was something a hike of 9 km in which we again have to gain an altitude of 1000 meter. So we left the idea of going on this route as well. 

Locals insist us to choose a third option a shorter route for our return, that was a mountain pass run in North West direction of upstream of Sirkhata Lake. We were little afraid for choosing this ‘mountain route pass’ at first, because earlier day the mountain pass which we have crossed in north-west direction was full covered in snow and there were portions where snow was very hard and unfortunately because of not having proper snow gear, I slipped there four times. 

We came to know that a day before our arrival a villager have crossed this pass to enter in valley. He was the first one to do so in this season, he told us though the pass is totally covered in snow but the condition of snow was not hard. So his words gave us confidence to choose this route.

Next day we got up early in the morning, we started our trek around 6:30 a.m., The weather was clear in the morning. Kohastani’s have interesting and hospitable customs. Before leaving everybody again came to meet with us. Earlier night Salman distribute candies among children’s. Every Children eye was glittering with expression of thanks. Also some Villagers hold our luggage and came with us for some distance and then say goodbye to us this is there tradition. We don’t have words of thanks for love and care shown to us by Sirkhata villagers. 

We started hiking upstream of Sirkhata Lake along the small glacial streams. After hiking for one hour, a never ending glacier has started, initially for next 30 minutes the slope on glacier was gradual, than again the tough steep ascent started that was also all covered in snow. We reached at first ridge the height there was around 4300 meter. Still there was no sign of pass, we again started hiking and reached another mountain top but was also not pass. We were standing in different world it was vast mountain pasture all covered in snow. There was feeling in the mind at that time that we were standing in Antarctica, because the white was the only color we could see in all four directions.
Now we could see a mountain series running in west direction, but still our porters were not sure about the actual direction of pass. It was almost five hours that we have left Sirkhata Lake. We did not meet any other human in our way, a panic start creeping, both Salman and me watching each other faces and asked the porters in nervousness where is the pass? The answer was of more desperation, “Sir, I will not tell a lie with you, I am not from this area, I am not sure about the Pass.” 

We could see a mountain range running on our west side, but it is almost impossible to cross this in this season without proper maintaining gear. Among this series there was a ridge which was of lower height. Salman GPS knowledge helped at that time, he confirmed that only this could be the respective mountain pass. It looks almost a straight wall of more than 30 meter height covered in snow. We sent one of our porters first at top; he asked us to wait, He still was not confirmed at last he saw a human some 200 meters down on other side and he started shouting, “Come up”. It was moment of relief. It was a straight climb, thanks to our porters that we able to reach at top without having any proper maintaining gear. 

The scene from top were amazing, we could see a snow covered Supat & Maheen top from there.
Our journey still not end, we have to descend down from this pass and have to trek on snow againto reach Supat top