The concept is simple

Every year, my tour company Epic Backpacker Tours launches a unique scouting adventure itinerary that combines incredible mountain landscapes, adventure photography, comradery, and the once-in-a-lifetime experience of a multi-day expedition in one of the world’s last true adventure destinations. 

These are raw, real journeys that require decent physical fitness, a positive mindset, a passion for photography, and above all else – a desire to experience a real adventure in the big mountains as part of a team of like-minded individuals. 

Here is what’s on for 2022…

Epic Backpacker Tours x Jackson Groves – 2022

Snow Lake Hispar La Trek, Pakistan – 2022

Let us show you what Pakistan is all about.

Our team of skilled guides, porters, and cooks ensure professional support throughout the expedition, while also giving you the freedom to truly experience the Karakoram Mountains without the big crowds or busyness of base camps. 

Cross wild mountain passes, camp on a glacier under the glowing Milky Way, experience legendary Pakistani hospitality, and gain new photography skills from industry professionals with the Karakoram Range as your classroom. 

Your Trip Leaders

Chris Lininger

Since 2017, Chris has been to Pakistan 11 times. Every year he leads group trips to K2 Base Camp, the Hunza region, and is the director of his adventure company Epic Backpacker Tours. Chris started Off The Atlas Expeditions to take the concept of an adventure holiday a step further by combining his passion for photography, trekking, and alpine environments into one-of-a-kind curated adventures for people who are as stoked on challenging high-altitude adventurers as he is.

Jackson Groves

Jackson is a force that has been shaking the adventure travel blogging and photography scene since he launched his blog Journey Era in 2016. Jackson first came to Pakistan in the summer of 2021, where he joined Chris for several expeditions including climbing Spantik Peak (7,027 M). Jackson has gained industry-wide recognition for his amazing work photographing his successful summit bids of Manaslu and Ama Dablam in Nepal.

Want to Join this Adventure?

Drop in an application! 

Applicants will be considered based on past experience and physical ability –

if you have not done any multi-day trekking trips before, please don’t apply.

Trip Day by Day Itinerary

Arrive at Islamabad airport where you will be met by one of our staff (if you are arriving within 24 hours of the start of the tour); we’ll ferry you to the hotel where you can chill out and freshen up. We recommend arriving in Islamabad at least one day early so that you can settle in and be ready to go on the morning of day one.

Note: accommodation pre-tour is not included.

The plan is for our whole group to catch an early morning flight to Skardu (50 minutes), the largest city in Baltistan. If the weather is clear, we can catch some truly epic views of Nanga Parbat and other massive peaks in the area.

Once in Skardu guests will have free time throughout the day to rest and to explore the city and the bazaar. Today, we will finalize our trekking permits at the local government office and have dinner together as a group. Over dinner, you will be properly introduced to our good friend and lead Balti guide for the duration of the trek, Mr. Zahid.

Today, the team is busy food shopping and packing all of the group supplies. Clients have free time in the city during the morning and early afternoon. In the late afternoon (time permitting), we will visit the Kharpocho Fort as a group for those who want to come. We will have dinner again as a group before setting off in the morning.

*If the group is arriving overland from Islamabad, the entire schedule is bumped back a day, to allow for a day of rest in Skardu (that is why we schedule in buffer days!)

Today, out adventure begins in earnest! Our team will assemble early at the hotel and after breakfast, we will load up the 4×4 jeeps and begin the bumpy, dusty drive to Jhula – the gateway to Central Karakoram National Park. The journey from Skardu takes between 7 and 10 hours depending on road conditions. We will eat lunch en route. 

We will arrive at Jhula in the late afternoon and sleep at a permanent trekkers camp at Jhula.

It is also possible that we will need to spend an extra day in Skardu finalizing our permits if they are not ready the day before (again, this is why we schedule buffer days!). 

The trek starts by following the K2 Base Camp trail and then turns west onto the Biafo Glacier.

The trail ascends over a shoulder to reach the left moraine and descends on to the glacier then back on to the left bank where the grassy camping site called Namla is located behind a lateral moraine.

After crossing a fracture zone on the glacier we reach the center of the glacier where we follow moraine ridges, underfoot there is loose rock making this a challenging day.

We set up camp on the left bank of the Biafo in a grassy area.

The route continues up the center of the glacier on a broad highway of ice making the walking easier than yesterday. We cross to the right and come off the glacier to a grassy area where Baintha camp is located.

This is a rest day for you and the porters in order to help with acclimatization to the high altitude. You can relax in camp or if feeling energetic walk up a ridge behind the camp with fine views of Latok group and The Ogre.

Look out for Ibex that can often be seen on grassy slopes above.

The trail is steep and loose to get onto the glacier however once there we follow the flat glacier making relatively straightforward walking.

Further along the glacier, there are some crevasses to be aware of where depending on the conditions we might rope up to safeguard our passage. There are superb views of many peaks including The Ogre (7,813m) and also we will get the first views of the Hispar La and Snow Lake.

Today we walk to the south end of a large snowy flat area known as Snow Lake finding our way through a network of crevasses. Snow Lake is a high-altitude glacial basin over 16km wide at the head of the Biafo and Hispar glaciers.

Martin Conway, the first foreign visitor, gave Snow Lake the name in 1892 and described this area as “beyond all comparison the finest view of mountains it has ever been my lot to behold, nor do I believe the world can hold a finer.”

Today we traverse across the vast Snow Lake area and make the ascent to Hispar La. The climb to Hispar La is not too steep although it always feels quite strenuous at this altitude, we also have to be aware of the crevasses in this area. The views at Hispar La are fantastic looking down Biafo Glacier to Snow Lake and The Ogre and another side down Hispar glacier to peaks in Hunza.

After an early start, we descend from Hispar La crossing a crevassed area, and then later on the glacier flattens out. We have to cross Kani Basa glacier which is a fracture zone where the two glaciers collide. Shortly afterward we reach our camp located in a grassy ablation valley with good views of Kanjut Sar (7,760m).

This is a challenging day as we have to find our way through a series of moraine ridges; climb a loose scree slope then cross several glacial streams. Jutmal camp is on a grassy area along the side of the glacier.

The route continues up the center of the glacier on a broad highway After an hour we descend down a steep bank to cross another side glacier then back to the valley as before where the walking is good. Camp at Bitanmal is in a large meadow often used by herders from Hispar village.

We make the last side glacier crossing over the Kunyang Glacier, then walk up by a steep path and cross a stream to get to the meadows at Falaling Chhish.

From our camp at Falaling Chhish we cross a bridge to reach Hispar village. You will certainly notice the vibrant green of the orchards and terraced fields after the black and white scenery of the Hispar Glacier.

Depending on the condition of the road we may meet our jeeps in the village if the road is broken then we have a further walk followed by a short drive to our last camp on this trek.

We take a jeep for a couple of hours to Nagar village along a rather narrow track before reaching the Karakoram Highway.

We drive up the road to Karimabad where we check into a boutique eco-lodge in Aliabad and the rest of the day is free to wash up, relax, and just chill the F out after so many days of trekking.

This day is allocated for any potential delays during trekking. We do not want our guests to miss their domestic flights due to delays and at the same time we can’t rush the trek if the weather turns. These delays can be caused by multiple factors including (but not limited to) roadblocks. This time can be utilized for sightseeing in Hunza valley.

Hunza valley is truly spectacular and today we have the chance to explore Karimabad, it is an interesting town spectacularly situated on a hillside to the north of the road with views of the fertile valley below (due to their extensive irrigation system) and a glimpse of snowy mountains.

We will visit Altit Fort – which is more than 1000 years old, once the home of the ruling Hunza king dynatasty.

Early Morning Flight to Islamabad from Gilgit.

We will have a chill day in Islamabad and an epic feast all together OR we will be driving the KKH en route to Islamabad if we have flight delays. 

We booked in an extra day in Islamabad in case of travel complications getting back from Skardu. Since you have just completed the most epic hike of your life, we do not want to add any group stress by making the departure window tight.

Today will be a free day in the city with group breakfast and dinner included. After a final meal together, our epic journey of a lifetime has come to an end and the time has come to say goodbye.

We arrange for transfers to the airport for those who are flying out over the next 12 hours.

Check-out of the hotel is around 11 am on Day 21. You can choose to stay on at the same hotel if you are not flying home right away, though any additional nights at the hotel are not covered.

More Trip Details

  • All hotel accommodation in between trekking days.
  • Breakfast, lunch, and dinner for all trekking days. Lunches in cities/towns are paid on your own. All dinners are included both on the trek and when we are in cities.
  • All ground transportation whilst on tour.
  • All on-the-ground logistics and planning.
  • Islamabad Airport pick up and drop off (if arriving/departing within 24 hours of the start/end of the tour).
  • Western and local guides.
  • NOC/TrekkingPermits
  • Letter of Invitation to Pakistan.
  • Internal flights within Pakistan (Islamabad – Skardu / Gilgit – Islamabad).
  • Comfy two-person alpine tents.
  • Up to 12.5 kgs of porter services per person.
  • Group generator for charging electronics.
  • Dining table, chairs, and a mess tent.
  • Access to the group satellite phone (usage at extra cost).
  • Group snacks.
  • Lots of laughs and epic moments.
  • Life-changing experiences.
  • Bonus surprises along the way.
  • Flights to Pakistan
  • Visa application fees
  • Any pre-tour or post-tour accommodation
  • Climbing harness/carabiners, helmets, and micospikes/crampons (for crossing Gondogoro La)
  • Travel insurance (mandatory)
  • Tips for staff
  • Porter services exceeding 12.5 kgs
  • Personal snacks
  • Meals when the group has free time
  • Single tent/hotel accommodation (requires additional charges). 

Above expedition photos by Zaigham I and myself.