Shimshal has for centuries remained a very cutoff place from rest of the world. Absence of a road upto the village had made it possible for only the brave to cross the tough mountains on foot and visit Shimshal. While the road was being worked on since 90s, it was only in 2005 when road got opened all the way up to Shimshal village. A distance that once used to take three days of walk now can be covered in less than three hours on a jeep from Passu. Riding on the jeep road, one has to praise the efforts of brave people who took part in the construction of road on this difficult path. Most of the terrain is rough and dry. One thus gets a very pleasant feeling upon coming across lush green fields and trees of Shimshal village. It is believed that first person came to Shimshal from Chapursan Valley centuries ago. The people of Shimshal are extremely hospitable and hardworking. They are some of the finest mountaineers of Pakistan. As per this article, more than twenty people of the village have been on the summit of one or more 8000+ peaks in Pakistan. Shimshalis speak wakhi language which is the same language spoken in Gojal and Broghil valley in Pakistan, Wakhan area in Afghanistan and some parts of Tajikistan.
Trek for Shimshal pass starts from the main Shimshal village (3080m). It is an initial 60-80 minutes flat walk along the Shimshal river bed followed by a little ascend until you come across the Pamir-e-Tang river coming from Shimshal Pamir side. After crossing the river through a suspension bridge, the trek climbs very steeply for next hour or so up to Gar-e-Sar (3500m). There is a local hut at Gar-e-Sar where night can be spent if one started the trek later in the day. There are many huts of these king made by the locals to facilitate local people who often made their visit to and from Pamir. Shimshalis have a very strong community bond. One example of this bond is the basic cooking stuff that is often found in these huts . Different local groups while going up towards Pamir or coming down use this stuff while they stay and leave some of the extra they have when they leave. From Gar-e-Sar, there is another ascend of thirty minutes to a point where Shimshal village can be seen for the last time. One can get very nice views of the Yazdgil glacier, Shimshal Whitehorn and Dastagir peaks. From here the trek ascends gradually or remains flat before a final sharp descend takes one to PastFurzin which is where normally first night is spent by the trekkers. If you are in good stamina and have started the dat early, you will reach here by afternoon and can continue up to ArbabPurian or PurianSar at least.
From PastFurzin, the trek ascends a bit before descending sharply into WoochFurzin and ultimately touching the Pamir-e-Tang river at around 3400m. Your guide/porters might want to take the shortcuts through scree slopes however do remember their is an alternate but long path with less scree. The river is crossed on a foot bridge and a gradual ascend of around thirty minutes takes one to Purian-e-Ben. Be prepared for a tough ascend from this point upto Purian-e-Sar (3900m) which takes around a couple of hours. Another hour or two on a less demanding path takes one to ArbabPurian where night can be spent. Fresh water is available on the camping site.
From ArbabPurian, there is a gentle walk upto Shujerab valley. Shujerab valley does have a little vegetation and is used by locals for feeding the yaks before returning back to Shimshal. From Shujerab the path ascends steeply for next 250 meters. The moment one reaches the top, lush green valley opens up. This is what is known by locals as Pamir, their summer grazing land. A further one hour gentle walk on the grassy path takes one to first the smaller Shimshal lake (lupwhooyee) and then the bigger lake (Zaklayee). Across the lake is the Shimshal Pass(4600m). From the pass, another fifteen minutes walk takes you to the Shewart village (4560) where Shimshalis spend their summer months with their livestock. Total distance from Shimshal to Shewart is 40-45 km.
Shimshali women are very tough folk. Their day starts with the initial rays of sunlight and they remain busy the whole day in some work or another the whole day without any rest. Most of their day is spent in making cheese and butter form yak milk. Taking yaks to the pastures is a collective responsibility of village and turns are divided on regular intervals among each family. Their food is simple and is often comprised of bread with cheese or butter. Use of rice or even vegetables is very seldom. Yak wool is collected during these summer months and stored. Later in the winters, people make very fine hand made carptet from it. Shimshalis are very fond of milk tea and would always be seen willing to drink it during their breaks. Weather in shewart remains chilling during whole day. Strong wind often keeps blowing. The moment sun goes down, the weather drops below freezing point.
Return from Pamir is normally done faster with a single night at PurianSar or WoochFurzin. While most of the people come back to Shimshal via same path, its not the only option. One possibility that a few try is to make a loop and return to Shimshal via Magata Pass (5100m). While this does add a couple of more days to the journey, it has the advantage of being on a new and different path on the way back. A relatively long and very tough trek can take one to Askole in Skardu from here via Braldo and Biafo-Hispar glaciers in 12-16 days.