The Biafo Glacier is a 67 km (42 mi) long glacier in the Karakoram Mountains of Gilgit Baltistan, Pakistan-administrated Kashmir which meets the 49 km (30 mi) long Hispar Glacier at an altitude of 5,128 m (16,824 ft) at Hispar La (Pass) to create the world’s longest glacial system outside the polar regions. This highway of ice connects two ancient mountain kingdoms, Nagar, in the west with Baltistan in the east. The traverse uses 51 of the Biafo Glacier’s 67 km and all of the Hispar Glacier to form a 100 km (62 mi) glacial route.
The Biafo Glacier presents a trekker with several days of strenuous boulder hopping, with views throughout and Snow Lake near the high point. Snow Lake, consisting of parts of the upper Biafo Glacier and its tributary glacier Sim Gang, is one of the world’s largest basins of snow or ice in the world outside the polar regions, up to 1,600 m (0.99 mi) in depth.
The Biafo Glacier is the world’s third longest glacier outside the polar regions, second only to the 70 km (43 mi) Siachen Glacier, India and Tajikistan’s 77 km (48 mi) long Fedchenko Glacier.
Campsites along the Biafo are located off of the glacier, adjacent to the lateral moraines and steep mountainsides. The first three (heading up from the last village before the glacier, the thousand-year-old Askole village) are beautiful sites with flowing water nearby. Mango and Namla, the first two campsites, are often covered in flowers and Namla has an amazing waterfall very near the camping area. Baintha, the third camp site, is often used as a rest day. A large green meadow, it has a few running streams near the camp and many places to spend the day rock climbing or rappelling.
Evidence of wildlife can be seen on the trek, including Ibex and the Markhor Mountain Goat. The area is also known for Himalayan brown bears and snow leopards, although sightings are rare.
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