The most difficult part of the Gondogoro trek leads through the same pass bearing the same name (5625 m asl). If there are no fixed ropes hung on both sides of the pass, it will be impassable for ordinary tourists. Thanks to this high mountain crossing it is not necessary to go back to Askole the same way – you may go down to Hushe through valley of Gondogoro glacier. It's an amazing „expeditionary“ experience in fine weather. Despite its height there are surprisingly not so nice views of the eight-thousand high mountains as from Concordia. However, the view to the other side of the pass to pointed Laila Peak (6096 m asl) is really worth it.
The whole ascent from Ali camp to Gondogoro pass leads along the densely snow-covered glacier, which means one thing – to get up already around midnight and set off after a little energetic breakfast at the headlamp lights, because the snow is still frozen. Even so, the „heavier“ people occasionally sink here up to the knees and the ascent becomes very exhausting, especially at such an altitude. A special gondogoro guide leads the expeditions of tourists and mountaineers. He would know the way to the pass even if he was blind. In addition, the way in the darkness seems very slow. Suddenly appears a sharp wall, on which fixed ropes are hung – the ascent without climbing equipment would be impossible without them. The ropes are never-ending and you must always watch your steps not to make a fatal mistake. The slope is really steep – at about 50 degrees. When it finally begins to dawn, you can finally look out where you are climbing to.
After daybreak you can see huge floes all around giving you similar feelings as during climbs to some really high mountains.
Gasherbrums and Broad Peak are gradually becoming visible on the horizon. However, there are only a few places during the ascent where you can safely take pictures.
Gondogoro la (5625 m asl)
After three hours from Ali camp and a long sharp ascent you will be surprised by flat and wide pass and even more indigent tent where administrator of the pass lives and takes care of the fixed ropes. You can again finally see K2, Broad peak and Gasherbrums, but surprisingly not as nice as from Concordia. Each source states the altitude of this pass differently – in the range between 5500 and 6000 meters above sea level. But the fact according to the gps and google earth is 5,625 meters above sea level.
Sunrise in the Gondogoro pass
The sun rises over the ridge of Gasherbrums and gives slowly light to thousands of Karakoram mountain peaks. Interesting is that the way from Askole to Hushe was discovered in 1986.
View into the depths of Gondogoro valley – this several hundred meters high descent is the most dangerous part of this stage of the trek, but also of the whole trek.
Descent here is very unpleasant – endless „stairs“ of small in firn carved steps with a security rope. You need to hold on really tightly here. One mistake and half kilometer deep fall into the valley follows. Around 2–3 people die in these passages annually. Slipping is not the only danger here. There is also possibility of avalanches (particularly in August, when the snow melts away the most) and very frequent stones crashes. Just after the death steps end, the path continues with another „interesting“ part – a long traverse at the beginning in snow and and then in the stones …