The ice mountains of the Karakoram are among the world’s greatest natural treasures. K2 is the second tallest mountain on Earth, and there are three other mountains in the range that top 8000 metres (26,247 ft). Located in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of north-eastern Pakistan, the Karakoram is part of a complex of Central Asian ranges that includes the Hindu Kush to the west and the Himalayas to the south-east. These mountains, however, are distinctive. This is the most glaciated region on the planet outside the Arctic and Antarctic. But while most of the world’s great peaks are almost blanketed in snow and ice, the Karakoram is an exception: the mountains are so vertical that they rapidly shed snow, leaving their bold, jagged outlines of granite glistening in the sun. The name of the range comes from the Altaic term for ‘black gravel’ or ‘black pass’. The renowned landscape photographer Colin Prior was initially inspired to visit the Karakoram in his early twenties after picking up a book by the climber and photographer Galen Rowell and being instantly captivated by images of the sharp, fractured peaks and vast glaciers. He has been passionate about these mountains since his first trip in the mid-1990s. Prior’s new book is the result of a further five expeditions to the region. Because it is so remote, there are no established base camps, and each expedition requires careful planning and miles of trekking with a large team of guides, porters and ponies. There are regular rock falls and perilous snow-covered crevasses to contend with. The reward for Prior is what he calls the ultimate mountain landscape: ‘The scenery is graphic, with towers, minarets and cathedrals of rock.’ This elegantly produced volume showcases the breathtaking beauty of the Karakoram in some 90 duotone and colour photographs. The images are arranged to follow Prior’s progress up the glaciers, and are accompanied by well-chosen quotations from historical accounts of early expeditions. Mick Conefrey – author of The Ghosts of K2, an account of early attempts to conquer this iconic mountain – contributes an essay on the importance of photography to mountaineering. Photographic notes and a selection of ‘making of’ images at the end of the book highlight the challenges of documenting the most exceptional mountain range in the world.
The first high-quality photography book devoted to the spectacular Karakoram mountains of Pakistan
Features 90 spellbinding duotone and colour images by the celebrated landscape photographer Colin Prior, who has spent years documenting the range
With an essay by the award-winning author and film-maker Mick Conefrey
Published date revised to: March 11 2021
All books signed by Colin