If doing Makra means standing right at the top of it, then I am afraid I still have not been on the top of it despite my three attempts.
It was summers of 2002 when we went to the Kaghan valley with AFP as part of our final year trip. That was the trip that introduced me to this exciting world of exploration and adventure. We camped at Shogran forest for the night and were briefed that next day we will do hike upto Paye via Siri. I did not even know that there is something called as Makra mountain beyond Paye till we reached Paye and was told by Mubbashir, the amazing AFP guide we had with us. There were some of us who were too excited by this new trekking experience and decided to continue for Makra whatever it takes. However, because of the heavy fog that we met at Makra base and very limited amount of time, we were not able to reach the top and had to return back.
Makra (spider mountain) stands at a height of 3586 meters at the border of Kaghan and Neelum valleys. The other side of Makra belongs to the Muzzafarabad district of Azad Kashmir. It has been named after spider because of the texture different glaciers make along its descends during early summers.
Makra is accessible both via Shogran and Muzaffarabad. To reach from Shogran, one has to reach Paye first from where its 3-4 hours walk up to the top. One can descend down to Bhairi which comes in district Muzaffarad of Azad Kashmir. From Bhairi, local transport is available for Muzaffarabd till four or five in the evening in summers. A very Interesting possible alternative is to continue south-west along the ridge towards Neela pahar (blue mountain) and descend to Machiara via Machiara National Park area.
My second Makra attempt was in the summers of 2007 when we took a group of 12 guys for Makra. However it was just early summers and the glaciers had not been melted till at that time for which we were not prepared. After managing a few of them, we encountered a big glacier which was descending sharply and deeply. With an initial unsuccessful attempt to cross it too, it was becoming harder to set and hold the steps and we, without any ice-axe and ropes, decided to return back from that point. Makra top did not remain too far from the point we retreated.
Another half-hearted attempt was made from Bhairi in April of 2008. While I never planned to do Makra this time, when I reached Chupsar after some four hours of tough hike, I realized that if I had a few more hours, would have easily done Makra. The side of Makra that opens to Neelum valley is exposed to sunlight and thus a very little snow was left there. However I had some commitments to fulfill at Bhairi and so returned back from there without mounting the flag this time either.
There are some myths spread around about Makra that it is extremely dangerous and many people have got lost and even died while doing it. This thing is absolutely baseless. There has been one serious incident however a few years ago when a group of students from Department of Forest Sciences, Peshawar University got lost while doing some research in the area. Four of the six students managed to reach back to the base camp however two students from Sindh could not make it through and there bodies were recovered the next day. The death is supposed to be caused by fog, extreme cold and starvation (see details). It was no doubta tragic incident however what needs to be learned is that those two guys were without any proper clothing and food stuff. The key is to keep yourself calm in any tough situation (that could happen anywhere) and keep some survival stuff which is required at the minimum. Kaghan valley lies in a geographical area where often a kind of thick fog covers the valley around of after noon. If you don’t have any guide with you and are facing any difficulty in remaining on the main trek, best thing is to stay wherever you are and wait for it to get cleared.