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Snow Lake Trek 2022: Across the World’s Longest Glaciers

snow lake trek pakistan

Think of a place that looks like Antarctica, has enough rocks to fill the earth’s deepest canyons 5x over, and requires the challenging logistics of a full-on expedition. The name “Snow Lake Trek” simply does not do this trip justice. In fact, we planned to cross TWO of the largest glacier systems outside of the polar regions. 

In August 2022 Epic Backpacker Tours set off to tackle this complex route. What we were to discover and encounter along the way would prove to go down as one of the greatest raw adventures I have ever had the pleasure of leading or being involved in.

We became the first team out of 28 other teams this season to cross Hispar La pass via the Biafo Glacier, descending onto Hispar Glacier and we did so in a total white-out blizzard, through vast crevasse fields. 

This years’ Snow Lake trek was a WILD ride to say the least. 

This journey reminded me why I started Epic Backpacker Tours, what it means to push the limits of real adventure, and how rewarding being part of an awesome community truly is. 

What is the Snow Lake Trek?

Many of you have probably never heard of the Snow Lake Trek.

It is one of the least trafficked long-distance routes in Pakistan, yet it is one of the most scenic and offers some of the craziest Karakoram views I have personally ever seen. Here is some background info on Snow Lake for context:

The “Snow Lake” region is a high-altitude glacial basin over 16km wide located at the head of the Biafo and Hispar glaciers. These glaciers meet at the Hispar La – the epic mountain pass we were to cross.

This makes this system the greatest concentration of glacial ice outside Antarctica.

These rivers of ice connect two ancient mountain kingdoms. There is Hunza in the West and Baltistan in the East. As this region is so remote it serves as the last stronghold for many large animals. This is the home of the Himalayan bear, ibex, markhor, and the snow leopard.

This region has long fascinated explorers of the Himalayas. The first foreign visitor, Martin Conway, gave Snow Lake this name in 1892. He described this area as “beyond all comparison the finest view of mountains it has ever been my lot to behold.” The mountaineer, Eric Shipton, described this region as ‘the last blank on the map’.

Towering high above these glaciers are high peaks of the Karakoram. These include Kanjut Sar (7,760m), Distaghil Sar (7,885 m), and Makrong Chhish (6,607m).

Notable peaks in the area: Latok group (Latok I: 7,145m, Latok II: 7,108 m, Latok III: 6,949m, Latok IV: 6,456m) and Baintha Brakk/The Ogre (7,285m). The Ogre was first climbed in 1977 by Britons Doug Scott and Chris Bonington. They had an epic descent with Scott breaking both of his legs and took a week to reach Base Camp.

Now that you have some background info on the Snow Lake / Biafo Hispar Trek, let’s dive into the expereince of our team this season…

You are only as strong as your team

This trip defined what it means to be a team and to work towards a common objective.

From the kitchen boys to the porters to our cooks to the lead guide staff and our team members – everyone had their part to play and our collective mission could not have been achieved without everyone keeping a positive mindset and working towards our shared goal: crossing Hispar La in whatever conditions we could, as long as it could be done with reasonable risk and group safety as the priority. 

This was trip was made that much more fun and special due to the fact that my fellow trip leaders on this exped happen to be a couple of great friends. Cheers to Jackson Groves and Sohail Sakhi for all that you both contributed to this journey.

If our trip to Snow Lake could be arranged into a collage of moments or woven into a patchwork quilt, it would have the feel of something like this:

Laughs were had until our facial muscles ached. Card games were so numerous we lost count. Crevasses so deep there was no end were crossed. Rocks. Rocks. Rocks. Blisters were earned and healed. Many cups of tea were shared. For 3 1/2 days we were storm bound. 128 kilometers were racked up. One large section of road was wiped off the map. One member of a different expedition tragically passed away. Digestive systems were tested. Gear was tested. Mental strength was tested. More laughs. Books. Journals. Early morning coffee. Smiles. Tired eyes. Motorcycle taxis across boulder strewn landslide paths. White out conditions, more crevasses.

End result: A taste of accomplishment that will remain with us forever. 

Snow Lake Trek: Scenes from Another World

Below is a collection of some of our favorite images from the trip.

Photographs were taken by Chris Lininger and Jackson Groves. 

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Welcome to our Journal!

Here at Epic Backpacker Tours, adventure is constantly on our minds. 

Our blog – or Journal as we like to call it – contains epic trip stories, photo diaries, and news about new tours. 

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PAKISTAN
K2 BASE CAMP TREK

Next trip: July 4th – 24th, 2023

Adventure Guide

João has born in the mountains of Madeira Islands in Portugal. Nature lover, writer, musician, guide, for him, a day without contact with outdoor vibes is a nightmare.

With a degree in Cultural Studies in Portugal and a Master of Arts in Global Cultures and Creativity in the U.K.

João found out what really matters in life can be found on the trails, and in the contact with people from different backgrounds and cultures.

Guiding, crazy trekking missions, sharing observations about the natural world, – these are some of João’s passions.

After his trek to K2 Base Camp and other adventures in the north of Pakistan, the love of the country and the local people resulted in his desire to share these feelings with world.

When not in Pakistan, João is  guiding and exploring in the Madeira Islands trails –  discovering some of the hidden treasures on his Portuguese Island.

João I can not thank you enough for the off the beaten paths and views you keep giving. Definitely one of the most challenging and amazing hikes we did 1200m meters all the way up to Fanal forest and circling back to the hidden village. Wow!

– Jeffery 

travel hunza valley

Adventure Guide

Sohail is the newest addition to the Epic Backpacker Tours team and we are beyond stoked to have him on board. As a veteran of the Karakoram and a native of Karimabad in Hunza, there is not much Sohail can’t do in the mountains. 

Besides having the ability to speak more languages than we can count, Sohail has explored every corner of Gilgit Baltistan and logs more trekking miles 

in a year than most people will do in a lifetime. As of the summer of 2022, Sohail has summited Gasherbrum 1, Gasherbrum 2, and K2 – three of Pakistan’s five 8000-meter peaks. Sohail guides several trips including our annual bespoke expeditions but specializes in Hunza Valley tours.

Chris and Sohail, and the team at Epic are FANTASTIC! Highly recommend anyone to do a tour with ‘Epic’. They have the perfect balance of fun, excitement and wild adventures, tied in with being super professional and ensuring your safety/health in a foreign environment. Don’t waste a moment and book a tour with these guys as the value for money is UNREAL!

– Borgan

iran travel tour

Adventure Guide

Pedro’s been traveling all around the globe since 2009. His keen interests in documentary photography, rural life, and local people from different ethnic groups have been the focus of many of his professional projects.

Since 2012, he has developed his passion for travel and awesome shared experiences into a full-time adventure photography tour leader position.

Pedro has found himself continuously going back to the Middle East, with his likely favorite destination being Iran. Pedro will be leading his 11th tour in Iran with EBT this coming spring 2020

When Pedro’s not traveling the world with Epic Backpacker Tours, you’ll find him based in the western south of Portugal planning he’s next adventure missions, logistics and working out his photos in local exhibitions.

 I loved the combination of hiking, camping around breathtaking scenery mixed with the cultural aspects. The guide (Pedro) is knowledgeable and work very hard to make the trip as memorable as possible. All in all an epic adventure with some extremely epic individuals! Go for it, you won’t regret it!

– Saisun

Touring Iran with EBT in May 2022 was way above our expectation: itineraries well planned and carefully executed, perfect mix of sights and trekking, delicious food, nice accommodation, great guides and wonderful fellow travellers. Trekking can be handled by anyone physically fit. Highly recommended for those who want to experience the real Iran.

– Sumera

Diane Bouvet

Adventure Admin / Marketing

After fleeing from the corporate fashion world in Paris towards the start of 2020, Diane has been working as a web developer and graphic designer remotely from various bases across the globe

She brings all of her incredible design and organizational power to Epic Backpacker Tours and is responsible for many of the beautiful behind-the-scenes design elements. 

Diane has been to Iran and to Pakistan twice including all over Gilgit Baltistan and KPK.

k2 base camp trek guide

Head of Operations | Guide

A veteran of Pakistan travel, Ralph is an experienced guide, photographer and writer who specializes in documenting remote locations. 

Not one to simply go where everyone else does, he insists on exploring new and lesser-known areas.

Together with Epic Backpacker Tours, he shows people parts of Pakistan that most other operators don’t even know about. He is particularly fond of the village of Barah, which he believes will become just as famous as Hunza one day.

Just got back from EBT’s Trekking Amongst Giants 15 day tour. The experience was first class. Ralph, our head guide, ensured that the entire trip ran smoothly and relatively on time (a bonus for anyone travelling in Pakistan). We had so many unforgettable days on the tour and the trekking was well-planned, safe but also a rewarding challenge. 

– Calvin


Traveling to a non-tourist destination can be a little intimidating but EBT takes all of the worry and trepidation away. From the pre-trip call to meeting the wonderful staff in person you can tell that you are dealing with a company that has a passion for what they do each and every day. Ralph, Zahid, and Khan were supportive, kind, and always willing to go the extra mile to make sure that everyone on the trip was getting what they wanted out of the experience.

– Katrina 

adventure tours pakistan

Founder | Adventure Guide | Director

For the last eleven years, Chris has been seeking out every shade of adventure in various parts of the globe and had visited more than 65 countries along the way. 

Since 2011, Chris has logged more than 6300 trail miles across five continents and climbed multiple 6000 + 7000 meter peaks in Pakistan and Nepal.

In 2017, a distant dream and a deep passion for the mountains and people of Pakistan led Chris to found Epic Backpacker Tours at a time when foreign adventure tourism in Pakistan was almost nonexistent. Since then, Chris has guided more than 15 expeditions to various parts of Northern Pakistan.

Chris believes in using photography and powerful adventure experiences to dismantle negative stereotypes regarding what mainstream media considers “dangerous” countries while facilitating unique and meaningful memories in the mountains for countless people from around the globe. 

Long-distance hiking, learning languages, meaningful conversations, all things Turkish food, mountaineering, and making tasty coffee above 6,000 meters rank among his favorite things in life. 

For him, an ideal start to the day begins with a steaming cup of good coffee, the beam of a headlamp, alpine boots, and a camera in hand.

When he is not leading or planning tours, Chris works as a writer and photographer on his blog Off the Atlas – an adventure travel blog all about Pakistan. 

 

Chris believes in Pakistan and its people, and he believes in the value of journeys shared with others and family cultivated on the road. Honesty and integrity are at the heart of what he does, and this really shines through in his work as a guide. He also makes great coffee – whether at 5am in an empty guesthouse or half way up a Himalayan peak.”

– Will De Villers

Chris believes in Pakistan and its people, and he believes in the value of journeys shared with others and family cultivated on the road. Honesty and integrity are at the heart of what he does, and this really shines through in his work as a guide. He also makes great coffee – whether at 5am in an empty guesthouse or half way up a Himalayan peak.”

– Alicia Anne Bjerkseth