Korphe is a small village at very high elevation in Baltistan region of the Gilgit-Baltistan province in northern Pakistan. It is situated at the foot of the Karakoram mountain range along the banks of the Braldu River.
Korphe is exactly located at the base of K2 and Mt Masherbrum. Braldu River flows down the western flank of the Karakoram Mountains. The Baltoro Glacier flows to their doorstep. The River Braldu separates Korphe from the village of Askole.
Korphe has a population of about 400 residents. The household are about 40. Each home consists of a large communal room with a woodstove in the middle. When a Balti woman marries, she lives with her husband and his family. Therefore, most households include children, parents, grandparents and other members of the extended family. It‘s local language is balti.
As Korphe is a small subsistence farming community, Braldu River is very important source of life for them. The Braldu River flows through the village of Korphe. To get the water they need to walk at least ten minutes to Braldu River. The inhabitants depend on crops and livestock. The main and local crops are potatoes, wheat, barley, beans and small vegetable. The livestock are yak, zou (cross between a cow and yak) cows, sheep, chickens, goats and ox.
Korphe people face harsh reality and unforgiving way of life. They had challenges to produce crops to feed their families, though the landscape and climate make farming difficult. In winter, they crawl into tiny basement dugouts and spend six months huddled together, barely kept warm by smoky yak dung fires. During the summer, many Korphe residents travel ‘upside’ for the higher elevations to their ‘summer village.’ Water and food are more abundant for the animals at higher elevations during the summer. In the snow fall season, the villagers herd the animals back down to the winter village and harvest the summer gardens.
They travel long distances over harsh terrain to markets in larger towns to buy goods they cannot grow themselves. The people depend on very simple food. Most meals consist of lentil soup, naan (flat bread), and rice. Sugar is scarce and precious in there.
Medical care is nonexistent. Broken bones go untended, burns are left untreated and diseases due to malnutrition are common parts of village life. Blindness and deafness prevail due to untreated chronic infections. Cataract is common there. Most staggering of all is infant mortality rate under age one, mostly caused by diarrhea induced dehydration.
Korphe people seem to not only accept their destiny, but embrace it. They are also acutely aware of their land's environmental constraints and face it with bravery and courage.