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Saxon Karakorum Expedition

Askole-Pajiu, 6/30/01-7/2/01

6/30/01

Today we had our first trekking stage from Askole along the river Braldu to Jola. The camps between trekking stages are predetermined because there are only enough space for tents and water at some places. The payment of carrymen [porters] depends on the number of stages.

From Askole to Jola there are 2 stages of about 10 kilometers each. Its better to get up early because the more one goes in the coolness in the morning the less one sweat on steep ascents on dusty paths in the heat at noon.

Before starting, we have to do an time-consuming procedure: the weighing and allocation of equipment to the individual carrymen. Though all weights are already trimmed to 25kg, all have to be re-weighed in front of the carrymen. Our trek has the remarkable number of 160 carrymen, because we travel together with the Spanish expedition. A lot of these carrymen transports food for the carrymen themselves. Salman Ali, our Sirdar, already starts at 5.30 a.m. with weighing and when he can depart from Askole it is already noon ...

At this time, we are already on our way and get ahead fast in the broad valley of the river Braldu. On both sides, there are phantastic mountains. It seems unbelievable that this is only the beginning and the surroundings will become even more spectacular day by day...

Finally, we had to do a detour of about 1 hour because of a new bridge that replaces the old rope bridge. Between 14 and 18 o'clock all arrive at Jola.

7/1/2001

This stage is about the same length than this of yesterday. Moreover, we will have to do a adventurous river crossing.

After a slightly longer breakfast with a cake because of Christian's birthday, we start at 6 a.m. ...

Each carryman has his own rhythm and so the go in small groups. They make short rests in between and prepare tea from muddy water of the river in a battered tin on a tiny fireplace. We prefer the drinking water in our bottles of which one needs a lot because of the dry air and temperatures around 30 degrees Celsius at noon.

After lunch we get to a location where one of the larger tributary of the Braldu needs to be crossed. There is not any bridge or something else. The water gets until our knees at the deepest points and has a considerable current and some take a involuntary cool bath. Among them the carryman who carries our eggs and 300 eggs, our ration for the following seven weeks, break. Thanks God, the Spanish expedition promise to share their eggs with us...

There is already high life when we reach Pajiu. Because all expeditions make a one-day stand here, we meet the Austrian expedition that started one day earlier. Moreover, there a Korean expedition and two smaller trekking groups. At night, the carrymen celebrate a huge party, dance and sing to the rhythm of drums made of empty petrol containers.

At 10 p.m., shortly after all got into their tents, it starts raining...

7/2/01

The one-day-break in Pajiu not only serves for recreation but for the preparation of the following stages. Early in the morning, the allocation of food starts. Each carryman gets about 1kg flour and salt, sugar, tea, oil, lentils and a match box. Moreover, everybody get a piece of meat from 3 slaughtered goats.

Next we start with the conservation of food, and we make bread, grill meat, boil lentils and cook Tschapatis ...

We use the day for taking photographs, laundering, reading, sleeping and writing our diaries...

Markus Walter

Pajiu, 7/2/01

<<< Dispatches >>>

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