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The rock along the Karakoram Highway, specifically from Karimabad north to the Chinese border, is extremely brittle and generally not suitable for climbing. Due to harsh environmental conditions, even rock that appears solid from a distance reveals itself to be terribly exfoliated, especially at cliff-bottoms. Climbers seeking recreation on the rock while traveling along the KKH will find this disheartening, as the cliffs of the Hunza Valley are majestic, towering, and appear to admit outstanding lines. The possibility exists that the development of sport routes may bring some climbing to the valley, but there is little local interest in bolting. What follows is a brief outline of the what existing and prospective rock climbing may be found in the region.

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Pakistan is falling away to the south. The canyon walls narrow and the air grows thin. Somewhere in the near distance is China, looming at the tip of our expectations. We’ve watched the massive Chinese trucks ramble past our mountain camp all week. They’re a hint of what’s to come, and speak to the power and wealth of a grand nation whose influence is spreading in all directions, even into the impossible, high places of the Karakoram.

The little village of Passu had a big week. A huge red truck sat parked along the stream, the same stream that was once a glacier. Behind the restaurant, within sight of the dwindling glacier, a hutch of colorful tents poked up beyond the thorny shrubbery of the Pakistani countryside. Every morning, chatty Westerners would snake their heads out of these tents, look up at the surrounding peaks, and spill out into the valley. They’d saunter off to the restaurant to sip tea and read, or gather all manner of silly implements in their packs and go hang from the nearby cliffs. Some would crowd into the back of tractors, minibuses, jeeps, or family cars, hitchhiking to other villages for long walks, all the time looking at the rock.

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1) The Delhi-Lahore Bus

This bus is a joint service of the Indian and Pakistani governments, and leaves from Ambedkar Terminal near Delhi Gate in Old Delhi. Compared with other ways of getting to Lahore, it is somewhat expensive. It does, however, save significant time and trouble. The alternative is to travel to Amritsar, hire transport to the border, cross the border on foot, and again hire transport to Lahore. It leaves Delhi everyday (except Sunday) at 6am and arrives in Lahore at roughly 6pm. Three very pleasant stops are provided along the way, including complimentary tea, snacks, and lunch.

Cost: 1500 INRs

From: Ambekar Terminal, Delhi Gate, Old Delhi, India
To: Gulberg, Lahore, Pakistan

Depart: 6am daily, except Sunday
Arrive: ~6pm

– A Pakistani visa
– Photocopies of
a) Your passport’s picture page
b) Your Indian visa
c) Your Pakistani visa

2) Daewoo from Lahore to Rawalpindi

There are many options for getting from Lahore to Pindi but having arrived on the Delhi-Lahore bus, this is perhaps the most convenient. The Daewoo bus station is only a 5 minute rickshaw ride away from from the Lahore terminus. Other options are cheaper, but these buses are extremely plush, fast, and seem to depart every few minutes. Also, the Daewoo terminal in Pindi is well outside the city, but it is much closer to your next jumping-off point than the public bus terminals.

Cost: max 600 PKRs

From: Daewoo Terminal, Lahore
To: Daewoo Terminal, Rawalpindi

Depart: As soon as you can get aboard
Arrive: ~3:00am

[ Note: Having arrived in Pindi at 3:00am, one is faced with the daunting task of finding lodging. We advise simply sleeping at the Daewoo Terminus. It is a clean, spacious facility with benches that seem almost to have been designed for a good night’s rest. This is an especially good option if you intend to catch an early bus from Pir Wadhai the next morning. ]

4) NATCO from Pindi to Gilgit

NATCO runs all public buses up the KKH. From Pindi, this will likely be an air conditioned coach that leaves from Pir Wadhai bus station, which is roughly between Pindi and Islamabad. According to Lonely Planet’s “Pakistan and the Karakoram Highway” (2008 ed.), Pir Wadhai is the terminus for all KKH buses, NATCO or otherwise, but we did not research other options. The earliest available NATCO bus leaves Pir Wadhai at 8:00am. It is possible to obtain tickets at almost any hour.

Cost: ~1200 PKRs

From: NATCO Termainal, Pir Wadhai Station, north of Rawalpindi, south of Islamabad
To: Gilgit NATCO Terminal

Depart: 8:00am to ???
Arrive: 18-20 hours later

visual transitivity