Day 9. To Ali Camp 5010m
Day 10. Crossed Gondogoro La 5640m to Xhuspang
We planned to leave Ali camp at 2am for the pass, but by 1am the porters were already waiting silently around our camp for their loads (they knew that there could be dangerous rock fall on the other side of the pass once the sun was on it), and so we left at 1:30am. Sarwar, the cook, and I went ahead crossing the glacier to the foot of the pass. When the slope began to steepen, we put our crampons on. [The guide book speaks of 50 degree slopes, but they weren't that steep. We did have to wind our way through some monster crevasses.] While Sarwar took care of the porters by fixing the 60m rope we had brought with us, I climbed alone up to the pass. It was a dazzling experience to arrive on the pass just as the sun was beginning to rise over Gasherbrum I to the east of us. The four 8000m peaks K2, Broad peak, Gasherbrum I, and Gasherbrum II were clearly visible. Sarwar arrived with the porters about 30 minutes later. Photography was tricky in the lighting, but here are some of the views from the pass.

K2 and Broad Peak behind

The porters arriving on the pass with Broad Peak and Gasherbrums IV and II behind.

Sarwar and the porters resting on the pass.

The porters showed surprising emotion on reaching the pass, giving each the other the Pakistani equivalent of the high-five(a clasp of the right hand and a half-hug). The cook even danced for joy (literally!) on reaching the pass --- he had been to Ali camp four times but had been prevented each time by bad weather from crossing. One of the two young porters, for whom this was the first crossing, later built a rock tower six feet high to celebrate the event.

A straggler being escorted up