Tuesday, July 5, 2011

BIAFO GLACIER (3rd Largest Glacier of the world)


The Biafo Glacier is located in Pakistan in the Karakoram Mountains of the Northern Areas. The Biafo Glacier is the world's third longest glacier outside of the Polar Regions (Arctic and Antarctica). It is 63 km long glacier.

Biafo Glacier is place in remote and isolated area. It is located in Baltistan –Gilgit region of Pakistan This region boast number of mountains peaks and huge glaciers. Biafo Glacier meets Hispar Glacier at an altitude of 5,128 m (16,824 feet) at Hispar La (Pass). Hispar Glacier is 49 km long. The traverse uses 51 of the Biafo Glacier's 63 km and 49 km of the Hispar Glacier to form a 100 km glacial route. This highway of ice connects two ancient mountain kingdoms, Nagar, immediately south of Hunza in the west with Baltistan in the east. Biafo Glacier is towards the northwest of the Baltoro Glacier.

At the base of Hispar Pass on its eastern edge lies Snow Lake. It is a basin of ice located 16,000 feet (4,877 m) above sea level and is approximately 10 miles (16 km) wide surrounded by granite pinnacles. The ice is found to be approximately 1.6 km. deep. Some go as far as to say that Snow Lake represents the last of the original ice cap in the earth's temperate zones. Snow Lake basin lies at the head of the Biafo and Hispar glaciers, which spread down from the Hispar Pass in opposite directions, forming a 61 mile (100 km) river of ice that is among the world's longest continuous glacier systems outside the polar region (Arctic and Antarctica). Snow Lake, consisting of parts of the upper Biafo Glacier and its tributary glacier Sim Gang, is one of the world's largest basins of snow or ice in the world outside of the polar. Snow Lake is very difficult to reach. One has to travel a miles of glacier without setting a foot on earth. The trek is covered in ten to fifteen days. But Snow Lake is a magical place. It presents a stunning site, a site that is out of the world. On one hand there is the might and majesty of numerous peaks and on the other hand the huge snow covered white land. The view of stars in the sky at night is amazing. It can be an unforgettable experience for those who love nature and unique beauty.

The Biafo Glacier presents a trekker with several days of very strenuous and often frenzied boulder leaping. The trek is on rocks and snow most of the time. It contains crevasses. The trek is full of spectacular and continuously incredible views throughout. The hike takes through glistening clear lakes, bright spots of green grass, glorious wild flowers and the ever present vertical snow covered peaks. The sidewalls vary from very steep to precipitous. The glacier has carved striations on the surrounding country rocks. Moving ice has formed depressions, which serve as basins for numerous glacial lakes.

In Biafo Glacier the first sight is of the pinnacles of the Paiyu Group which is astonishing. The view of mountains is spectacular. It provides marvelous scenery. On one side the Biafo lies and on the other side the Hispar Glacier and the peaks above Hunza valley.

Campsites along the Biafo are located off of the glacier. It is adjacent to the side moraines and steep mountain sides. The three camp sites are MANGO, NAMLA & BAINTHA. Moving up from the last village Askole before the glacier are beautiful sites with flowing water nearby. Mango and Namla are the first two campsites, which are often covered in flowers. Namla has an amazing waterfall very close to the camping area. Baintha, the third camp site is often used as a rest day. There is a large green meadow near the camp and it has a few running streams and many places to spend the day rock climbing. Baintha Campsite is located on an ablation valley below the granite peaks of the Ogre (7813 m.).

Evidence of wildlife can be seen throughout the trek. The Ibex and the Markhor Mountain Goat are found and the area is famous for brown bears and snow leopards.  

The journey to Biafo Glacier begins in Skardu. From Skardu, a jeep may escort travellers through the Braldu Gorge to the thousand-year-old Askole village. The trek from Askole initially proceeds towards K2, then turns northwest up the Biafo Glacier to Snow Lake. The descent differs from the ascent Going is through the Hunza Valley and ending is in Gilgit.

On the route of Biafo Glacier one just come across the highest, the longest and the largest mountains, glacier and rivers of the world. The scenes are full of breathtaking splendor sights. The trek is like a paradise on the earth. It is paradise not only for mountaineers, trekkers and photographers, but for every nature lover.

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