The Karakoram Project – Year III

I’ve just returned from another six weeks in the Karakoram where I made two trips; the first to the Charakusa Glacier and K6 Basecamp, followed by a trek up the Baltoro Glacier to Concordia and beyond. This year the region experienced very late snows, which presented some challenging photographic conditions but also some spectacular opportunities. One of my favourite images from the trip was captured during the ascent to K6 Basecamp just as snow clouds cleared leaving in their wake, a sky etched with cirrus streamers in which I experienced what I can only describe as an ecstasy for life.

Under a quarter moon, Jupiter wanes behind Great Trango, which has just emerged from a snow storm. Photographed from Urdukas, the mountain architecture at this point on the Baltoro is at its finest. Spires, towers and cathedrals fortify the north side of the Baltoro.

On the Baltoro, near Horbose, I camped for two nights attempting to shoot the Uli Biaho Tower. After almost 18 hours of torrential rainfall, which fell as snow at higher altitudes, the clouds slowly began to dissipate revealing the tower in an ethereal light.

Rising above K6 Basecamp, Sulu Peak features this anthropomorphic rock sculpture, which emerged ethereally from the mist and took shape on top of the mount. I used a 300mm to capture the minute detail.

A fresh covering of snow freshens Masherbrum and the penitentes. These tall thin blades of hardened snow are found at high altitudes creating an exotic blend of shape and form

First light of K2 (4.45 a.m.) showing ‘The Bottleneck’ and overhanging seracs – the main obstacle to be overcome in the ascent of the mountain.

Once a common feature of the Karakoram glaciers, these giant rocks supported by ice pedestals are now all but extinct. Hundreds of these unique sculptures have vanished over the past ten years as temperatures have risen. I took the opportunity of photographing the remaining seven, which remain standing on the Baltoro, including this one near Masherbrum.

Like smoke from a fire, spindrift blows from the summit of Broad Peak where katabatic winds relentlessly swept the summits of the 8000m peaks all day.