"An alpine style ascent of Tahu Ratum (6651m) is a particularly noteworthy and challenging objective, which will help raise the profile of British mountaineering." - Sir Chris Bonington - Expedition Patron.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Expedition does not equal holiday...

This is our fourth day in Pakistan but it seems like we've been away much longer!


After an entertaining overnight flight with PIA (and the best in-flight meal I have ever tasted - curry and chapatti) we arrived in Islamabad at 6am. Even at this time in the morning the temperature was in the high thirties and very humid. The airport is a little outside of Islamabad and it was a thirty minute ride to where we were staying. This was our first experience of Pakistani driving and it was certainly eye opening. To an outsider there seems to be little logic between the movements of cars, horses, cyclists and ornately decorated trucks. According to our driver there are few accidents, so this strange kind of dance must really work!

We arrived at Jamsine lodge, our thankfully air-conditioned guest house. After a few hours of much needed kip we met our guide and spent the afternoon driving round the city visiting officials from the Alpine Club of Pakistan and the helicopter rescue company (hopefully we won't meet again!). We spent the evening in browsing the vibrant markets of downtown Islamabad - In a vain effort to turn his life around, Tom picked up a few books including: Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Watch this space! - Before meeting up with John Arran, a climber from Sheffield, working out here. Alcohol is available in Pakistan, so we had to go to a very discreet downstairs bar in the Marriot hotel to aquire our illicit beverages. It was great to meet up and share stories (and thanks for dinner!). He has recently put up the hardest sport route in Pakistan, and plans to keep breaking the record every weekend!


After an (almost) alpine start we arrived at the airport for the early flight to Gilgit. It was all looking good until it was cancelled 10 minutes before departure. The locals protested but after two hours we all gave up, and with some trepidation elected to take the notoreous Karakoram Highway. We also gained an extra passenger - sharing the bumpy ride with lecturer from Texas University - studying the traditional languages of the Hunza Valley.

A typical view on the death defying KKH - Photo: Luke Hunt.

Driving up into the mountains we passed through some eye opening scenes in the Pakistani countryside. The area is so full of life! We set off late and had to drive some of the most dangerous roads (in terms of bandits and big drops) at night. We passed through some interesting areas and at one point shared our vehicle with a Policeman, compete with AK47! All very exciting! We arrived in our guesthouse in Chileas after 22 hours on the go. Thanks to our tireless driver, who kept us bouncing and bumping along the crumbly and sometimes missing road and more importantly from plummiting into the abyss!


With the most dangerous roads behind us and our new found immunity to crumbly edges and steep drops we made our merry way up the Hunza valley. We are now staying in the Hilltop Hotel in Karimmabad - I make no exaggeration when I say this valley is the one of most beautiful I have ever been to, with soaring mountains, colourful, friendly people and lush vegetation.

Today we have been shopping for all the food we will need for the expedition. Having developed a taste for chapatti and curry, (and underestimated costs somewhat!) we are planning to live on a very traditional diet during the expediton.

The trip so far has been a richly intense experience, with a new challenge around every corner. At time of writing Hamish has just infomed us that a small landsilde has blocked the road up to Hispar Village and is about to cause us no end of trouble...

This will be our last detailed post until we return to civilisation. However, we are intending send updates via sat phone texts so stay tuned!

By Luke and Tom.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

They've Arrived!!!!

Just a quick blog to let you guys know what the craic is with the team and so I can work out how to use this thing!!


As you may have guessed they have arrived in Islamabad, Pakistan!

I spoke to Tom late yesterday afternoon as they neared Manchester Airport, and they all seemed pretty excited, nervous and psyched!

Today I got a text saying that they had arrived safely in Islamabad, had a short nap and were off to meet with some Pakistani Officials and that it all seems very organised!

I'm sure they will find an internet cafe soon and give a proper update...Tom can't just go cold turkey from his facebook addiction!


Thursday, 22 July 2010

Today has been mainly about packing...

How many freeze dried meals... serious concentration required! Photo: Ian Carter.

Holly, Hamish, Luke and I have spent the day in my barn. We occupied our time by packing, packing and yet more packing...

We're all fairly knackered and are about to go sleep.

Here are a few photos of us packing.

A big thanks to everyone to who has supported our trip - we really, really, really appreciate it.

Hamish on the phone to his Mum - He's forgotten the spare picks for his ice axes but his missing merino boxers were by far the most pressing issue. Photo: Ripley.

Hamish and Holly pretty happy with yummy Mule Bars! Photo: Hunt.

Geobar Heaven - Photo: Ripley.

This will be our last blog post before the fun really starts, but I might squeeze another in tomorrow if you're lucky/some thing unexpected happens!

Tom Ripley

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Safe hands...

Okay so it looks like we've pulled it off and it is all coming together! We're just about sorted and in 49 hours time we'll be boarding our plane in Manchester... It seems like its already been a long journey and the proper fun hasn't even started.

We're going to update the blog sporadically during our trip. Either by using internet cafes or by texting Duncan Campbell from our satellite phone.

Here's a picture of the cider drinking, whipper taking, generally nice chap - so you can trust our blog is in safe hands...

Photo: Tom Ripley.

By Tom Ripley

Saturday, 17 July 2010

One week to go and a new sponsor!

We fly out from Manchester Airport in less than a week!!!
Everything is coming together now and Tilley have kindly offered us each a hat for keeping the sun off during our 7 day approach to base camp. Tilley make the best, most stylish hats around and you can find them at http://www.tilleyuk.com

Luke and Tom are currently at Tom's home in the Lake District playing with the satellite phone and selling cups of tea on Helvellyn. Holly and I still have a few days left at work, I've ordered half the 700 000 rupees we'll need and we've all started taking anti-malarials. The biggest challenge now will be keeping within the 40kg per person weight limit on the flight out.

Look out for more regular updates over the coming week.

by Hamish