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Rab Wash

Year three of my four-year project to photograph the Karakoram Mountains saw some dramatic conditions during this year’s trips. The region experienced very late snows with significant accumulations on the big peaks. My original plan was to make two trips when I was out there – the first to the Charakusa Valley followed an expedition that would follow up the Panmah and Choktoi Glaciers, cross the Sim La to the Sim Gang Glacier and then cross the Hispar La and descend the Hispar Glacier. However, the late snows forced me to abandon the second trip due to crevasse danger and the accumulation of snow on the high passes. Instead, we followed up the Baltoro Glacier which yielded superb winter condition and allowed me to capture some of the big mountains cloaked in snow. [caption id="attachment_23445" align="aligncenter" width="667"]Gham Hussain, Trango GlacierRoz Ali Janey, Siatcho, Hushe Valley[/caption] As we gained altitude, views to the mountains just keep getting better and a continuous flow of snow showers would temporarily obscure the summits for forty-five minutes or so, before blowing through and leaving some residual mist around the tops. Camping at K6/K7 Basecamp for three nights provided great opportunities from which to photograph the Fathi Brakk Towers, Namika, K6 & K7, Nayser Brakk and Sulu and Beatrice Peaks and being the first group up the glacier we had the campsite to ourselves, albeit mostly snow-covered and frozen by night. I witnessed conditions that were truly extraordinary which filled my mind the incredible emotions which I was able to capture. The mountain architecture of the Karakoram is like no other and it leaves us lingering in silent contemplation. [caption id="attachment_23455" align="aligncenter" width="1000"]Beatrice Peak, Charakusa GlacierNayser Brakk, Charakusa Glacier[/caption] All Posts I returned to Skardu and to the K2 Motel for one night for a very welcome shower and to charge camera batteries. Early next morning we were off again, this time to Askole from where we would begin our trek to Concordia and beyond. My sirdar Karim and camera porter Hussain, together with 6 new porters and a pony spent the first night in the comfortable campsite in Askole which we had to ourselves. The weather was still unsettled with frequent showers falling as snow at higher levels which pleased me and although there were times when conditions made photography frustrating, there were also times, perhaps after more than 24 hours of continual rain, when the clouds began to part revealing dark towers that emerged from ethereal mists. This is always so much better than having ‘blue skies’ – great weather for being outdoors, but totally hopeless for landscape photography – harsh contrast, deep shadows, empty skies, highlights in snow blowing out, which all contributing to generally uninspiring images. [caption id="attachment_23452" align="aligncenter" width="1000"]The Indus River from SkarduA table with a view - Masherbrum, Baltoro Glacier[/caption] [caption id="attachment_23447" align="aligncenter" width="1000"]Uki Biaho and Trango Towers, Baltoro GlacierUli Biaho Tower, Baltoro Glacier[/caption] [caption id="attachment_23458" align="aligncenter" width="1000"]Katabatic winds, Broad Peak, ConcordiaPorters, K2, Godwin Austen Glacier[/caption] [caption id="attachment_23449" align="aligncenter" width="750"]Porters descending the Godwin Austen GlacierWild camping, K2 and Godwin Austen Glacier[/caption] [caption id="attachment_23456" align="aligncenter" width="1000"]Boulders, Braldu River Boulders, Braldu River[/caption] Next year, I will follow the itinerary I had originally planned for this year and arrive in Skardu one month later to ensure that the snows have melted off and that we can complete the itinerary over the high passes. Thereafter, the process of editing and writing copy for the forthcoming book and all being well, publication in 2017, Inshallah.