Pakistan  2004 - Expedition to Mountain Buni Zom 6551m
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Saturday 29th May 2004: The trip from Chitral to Rahman and trek to Phargam village
Early in the morning, the jeep driver came to the hotel. We agreed on the transportation fee to Harchin for 3000 rupees. We loaded our equipment (4 big backpacks, 2 barrels and 5-7small bags) on the jeep and we left from Chitral at 6:30. The road was very bad and narrow, just for one car, while only jeeps can go to Harchin. We made a stop in Awi village where you have a very nice view of the North face of Buni Zom's peaks, Awi Zom 6484m, just a few kilometers away from us. After a long trip we finally reached Harchin village. The bridge to Rahman was repaired and the jeep passed to the Rahman village. The road was very narrow and the jeep was going very slow. We crossed the Rahman village and we stopped in the middle of the route to Phargam. We paid 3800 rupees in total for the jeep. Porters appeared in no time, and we began bargaining. We asked about Amir, but in a few minutes Amir arrived. He began saying that he was a mountain guide and talked about his Rest house in Phargam, but then Amir recognized me and George as the Younani (Greeks). We agreed on a transport fee of 700 rupees for each porter from there to Kulakmali (Base Camp) for the next day. First, we walked to his house where we camped outside (Amir's Rest House). In the evening we made a trek higher on the way to Kulakmali for acclimatization. Amir' s wife prepared rice for dinner.

Sunday 30th May 2004 : Trekking with porters from Phargam to Base Camp
Fortunately the weather appeared to get better and the snow began melting. Along with Giorgos we trekked to the rock wall which we reached after one hour. It began snowing again but we continued preparing the equipment for the ascension and after a while it stopped snowing. I walked ahead and began placing the pitons. For 2 hours I was hanging from the rock face and I placed 6 pitons, trying to go up to a narrow pass following its direction. Suddenly a blizzard made us return as fast as we could to the base camp. Panos was heading to the rock wall looking for us. We met him a little lower and returned together to the base camp. We entered the tents, while the weather seemed to get worse. By 21:00 the snow had settled and our tents were covered.


Monday 31st May 2004: Climbing the rock wall
Fortunately the weather appeared to get better and the snow began melting. Along with Giorgos we trekked to the rock wall which we reached after one hour. It began snowing again but we continued preparing the equipment for the ascension and after a while it stopped snowing. I walked ahead and began placing the pitons. For 2 hours I was hanging from the rock face and I placed 6 pitons, trying to go up to a narrow pass following its direction. Suddenly a blizzard made us return as fast as we could to the base camp. Panos was heading to the rock wall looking for us. We met him a little lower and returned together to the base camp. We entered the tents, while the weather seemed to get worse. By 21:00 the snow had settled and our tents were covered.


Tuesday 1st June 2004 : Bad weather - Climbing the rock wall
Today is the first day of the summer, however outside there is 10 cm of snow, but fortunately there hasn't been any rain. We try to arrange the equipment and clear the tents out of snow. Suddenly, Amir shows up and helps us out. We make breakfast, plain rice, in order to regain the energy we lost up to now. At 9 we begin trekking to the rock wall all together, and Amir follows behind us. I begin the rock climbing while securing Giorgos. Amir says that we should move ourselves continuously, diagonally up to the waterfall. I advance a few meters closer to the waterfall and reach a vertical wall and a gap of 50 meters followed by a vertical and negative rock. I got tired and went down. Giorgos goes up but he cannot continue either. While looking at the rock wall I observe that there is a belay exactly above the point that I had reached before. Giorgos goes down and I continue and soon I reach the belay that has two pitons and a rope. I add a belt and continue putting a new piton on the way to the waterfall. Suddenly the weather turns bad and a blizzard arrives. Amir leaves first, while we gather the materials and go fast back to the base camp. We set up also the third tent we had under bad weather. However after an hour or so the sun came out again and the weather improved. We slept at 18:00.


Wednesday 2nd June 2004: Climbing the rock wall
We woke up early in the morning, about 7:00, the weather seemed to be better, but we could see some fog on the horizon. Along with Giorgos, at 8:30, we went to the rock wall. Initially we removed all the unnecessary pitons up to the belay. I continue putting two pitons beyond the belay, and Giorgos climbs up to the belay, in order to continue to the second belay. I begin to go up and I put another piton but cannot pass a small negative rock. This is the big moment when we decide to interrupt the efforts from this point. With difficulty we go down leaving only the belt in the belay. Then we had to carry all the materials and food down to the base camp, something very difficult, but we finally managed it. The deliberation on the continuity of the mission was that we should move ourselves to the Gordoghan glacier. Tomorrow we will go up to the glacier for acclimatization and then we will find porters to transport the materials. Giorgos hopes to climb the Main peak by crossing first the North peak. I believe that we will not accomplish so much.


Thursday 3rd June 2004: Trekking from BC to Gordoghan glacier 4700m and back to BC
We wake up at 4:30, have breakfast and prepare small rucksacks for the ascent to the Gordoghan glacier. At 5:50 we leave the base camp and reach the fringes of the glacier at 7:00. An ascent begins from the familiar path, but shortly after the beginning we were tired due to the high altitude. The weather is rather good, but a cloud hides the sun during the whole time. At 4100m Panos withdraws from the effort and starts for a late return back to the BC. The remaining three of us continue, while Babis remains a little behind on the ascent. After the laborious ascent we reach the glacier at 4700 meters, where it's very cold and everything is covered in snow. In certain points the snow gets as high as our elbows. After 30 minutes Babis arrived, tired. The return is very difficult on the rocky terrain. We reach the crossroads with the path to Kulakmali, where Babis stays to rest. Panos waits for us impatiently at the BC. Babis remained a long way back from us, and reached us after an hour. Food and rest after such a laborious course.


Friday 4th June 2004: Waiting for Amir
Since early in the morning we had been waiting for Amir to come but finally he didn't. We agreed to remain for another day in the BC hoping that tomorrow Amir will come in order to help us arrange the transport of the material to the Gordoghan glacier and find a place to stay in Phargam village. Today was a day to rest so we arranged the food supplies for the difficult days that would follow up in the mountain. The weather was very good today and the sun was shining all day long.


Saturday 5th June 2004: Panos and Babis return back to Phargam
Amir does not arrive today either. Panos will return to the Phargam village in order to send porters to the BC. Suddenly Babis changed his mind and while we were to go up to the top of Gordoghan he told us that he would return back to Greece. We started to reorganize our schedule again at 11:00, due to the fact that Panos with a heavy rucksack and Babis with one small backpack were leaving for Phargam. Panos would remain for one day in Phargam while Babis would leave straight for Chitral in order to change his ticket and return back to Greece as soon as possible. Thus I remain with Giorgos in the BC waiting for the porters to arrive the day after.


Sunday 6th June 2004: Trekking to Camp 1 (4700m) in Gordoghan glacier
At 8:00 in the morning the porters arrived along with Amir at the BC. The rucksacks were prepared and all together, me, Giorgos and 3 Porters, left with 15 Kg each for the Gordoghan glacier. Amir would take care of transporting the rest of the equipment back to the village, where Panos and Babis were waiting. After several hours of laborious trekking we reached the Gordoghan glacier and since we paid the porters more (550 rupees) they left with the prospect of coming back the next day to transfer more equipment. We made Camp 1 while the stove didn't function and at about 13:00 it began to snow and was very cold. We set up the camp quickly and lay in the tent to rest.


Monday 7th June 2004 : Trekking for Camp 1 (4700m) to Camp 2 (5065m) on Gordoghan glacier
At 8:00 the 3 porters arrived, we left Camp 1 to go higher on the Gordoghan glacier. At the beginning it was a little difficult but afterwards the glacier became smoother and was completely covered with snow and ice. A new danger appeared due to some crevasses in the glacier. Approaching the icefall near the Buni Zom II and III peaks there were many crevasses, which were also hidden by the fresh snow. The Porters did not want to continue further because it seemed dangerous to them and they had fulfilled the agreement they had made. The Porters left us alone and finally we returned in a secure area at 5065m, where we made camp 2. We ate and rested during that freezing cold evening. We were in a very bad situation and the water was not drinkable.


Tuesday 8th June 2004: Trekking for Camp 2 (5065m) - Camp 3 (4916m) on Gordoghan glacier
Early in the morning we packed the equipment and began climbing higher up the Gordoghan glacier. I did not feel well and feared those crevasses. The rucksacks were very heavy (23Kg). We decided to go back and climb up by another ridge on the glacier. This route was very long and impossible to continue with all that equipment. Thus we started the descent in the glacier and about an hour later we found ourselves at 4816 meters where we made camp 3, specifically on the route which leads to Gordoghan Zom peak. With camp 3 set up we went to fetch water from the rill that runs near the camp. Using first a rope I went down to the stream to get drinkable water, and after I made certain that there were no crevasses I repeated this without ropes.


Wednesday 9th June 2004: Summit day, Camp 3 (4916m) - Gordoghan Zom III peak 6158m - Camp 3
The alarm rang at 2:30, we quickly had breakfast and got ourselves ready, and at 3:40 we began climbing. The snow was frozen. Giorgos went first, we passed the narrow gully slopes and reached the flat slopes, where we went up with a fast tempo and without stopping. Then we got on the ridge where the slope was steeper. At 5800 meters the frozen snow turned to ice and made the ascent very difficult. Giorgos had an ache in the abdomen and he could not continue further, thus he began the descent while we were at 6070 meters. First I thought about returning, following Giorgos, but something inside me said that I should not leave for a second time this peak and continue climbing alone. Thus, I made a last effort and after a lot of labor and fear I reached the final slope that was in fact an ice wall. However, I finally reached the snowcapped summit of the peak at 11:00. But which peak is this? The GPS shows 6158 meters altitude: is this Gordoghan Zom I, II or another peak? The view from the peak was amazing. I took a few photographs and I enjoyed the peaks of Hindukush that surrounded me. The wind took the flag and my gloves. At 11:20 I decided to return because the descent looked very dangerous. Carefully I went down the ice sector and headed to the snowcapped slopes taking big steps trying to reach Giorgos, and I met him at 5400 meters. At 13:40 we reached C3, after 10 hours of climbing (7 hours ascent and 3 descent). My toes were frozen, during the whole time I was climbing. I did not feel even my fingers in the evening, although I had continuously tried to warm them. We had to get through a very cold night.


Thursday 10th June 2004: Long and hard trekking from Camp 3 to Harchin village
When I woke up my toes were frozen and I could not feel them. It was 7:00 in the morning, and I boiled some water to put my feet in, but it proved pointless. Our tent internally was covered in snow and at each movement the snow fell on us, while outside everything was frozen. We packed our heavy backpacks, and we began the descent on the glacier. Two rucksacks, 22 Kg each. At 8 o'clock we reached the difficult (rocky) part of the descent on the Gordoghan glacier. Afterwards we went down the ram shackled rocky slopes on the glacier's moraine. After a lot of weariness, sweat and exhaustion we reached the Phargam village at 13:30 and went to Amir's house. We succeeded in going 2000 meters down walking on very bad terrain. We had been in Amir's house since 14:00, while Amir appeared at 18:30, and along with two porters we left immediately to Harchin village, since it would be dark soon. At night we reached the house of the schoolteacher. He hosted us in his house and he offered food and room for our overnight stay.


Friday 11th June 2004: Travel from Harchin to Chitral
We woke up early in the morning, about 5 o'clock, and we had breakfast. The jeep was waiting to pick us up for Mastuj for a fee of 100 rupees. We reached a gas station in Mastuj and waited for another jeep to take us to Chitral. After about a quarter of an hour we found a jeep that was going to Chitral. After 45 minutes of travel I realized that I had lost the plastic bag which included my passport, all my money, my identification card, everything. Chaos: we stopped the first car we met that was going back in order to take us back to the store in Mastuj. Very stressed, the trip seemed very long, and the thoughts of what would follow were haunting my mind: would I be able to return back home, back to Greece? We finally reached the gas station in Mastuj. Relieved, I found the plastic bag with all my things covered in mud and dirt just in front of the store. I felt happier than ever before, after an hour full of anxiety. We entered another jeep that headed to Chitral and arrived there at 18:00. At the Chinnar Inn we met Panos and Mpampis, and there we rested and had a nice bath. There we met tourists from other countries and discussed travel experiences together.

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