I am back from the trekking trip of the year 2015. As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I had finally decided to go for Asumber Pass this year. Unlike previous years, I didn’t have any trekking partner accompanying me this time – which made the experience pretty interesting and I would say, more enjoyable.
Asumber Pass has an altitude of around 4500 meters. It is a moderate level non-technical trek that connects Ishkoman valley with Yasin valley in Ghizer district of Gilgit-Baltistan. Best time to do this trek is between mid July and mid September. The pass remains heavily covered in snow till generally the end of June. As it was still early June, I encountered a lot of snow on the day of pass crossing. At the places where snow is actively being melted, snow gets very soft and the soil turns into a mud-field which makes trekking very tough at patches.
Locals on both sides of trek are extremely friendly and hospitable. Settlements on the Yasin side are inhabited by Ismaili people and are sparsely populated than on the Ishkoman side. Ishkoman side of the pass has mainly gujjar population. Yasin valley side is however more scenic and picturesque. As I was without any group, people were very welcoming and almost everyone invited me for bread and tea even if they don’t know Urdu. They live an extremely simple life with minimum artificial interference. Most of their activities including food revolve around their livestock which in case of most of people is the only source of their income.
Trek to Asumber pass starts from the village Asumber. Hiace vans can take one to Pakhora village from Gahkuch which is around an hour drive. Fare was Rs. 100 per passenger as of June 2015. Asumber is at the other side of river from Pakhora. As the bridge between Asumber and Pakhora had long ago got destroyed, the only way to cross the river is self-operated pulley – which is not in a very good shape. One can camp at Asumber village at around 2200 meters altitude and arrange porters from here.
Recommended itinerary for doing this trek is mentioned below
Day1: Asumber to Charinj (5-6 hours)
The trek ascends steeply for about an hour or two after which it gets gradual. Heat could be unbearable at lower altitudes if sun is fully out. Charinj has a few settlements and a large meadow to camp. Settlements are occupied by both Ismaili people from Shonas village and gujjars from Asumber. Guide books and maps pronounce it at Chilinj however it’s spelled as Charinj by the locals. Charinj is at around 2900 meters altitude.
Day2: Charinj to Borta Bort (4-5 hours)
This is relatively a very easy trekking day. Mid way is a nice and tempting village of Tokhum Kush with a pine tree forest. The atmosphere changes from this point onward. Borta bort is the last settlement before Asumber pass. It is advisable to go further an hour above and camp at the meadows below pass that can act as the base camp. Water is available however there is no shade or wood.
Day3: Borta Bort to Mayur (5-6 hours)
This could be a tough day if done early in the year. Without snow, it’s a moderate climb to the pass followed by a non-technical descend with some glacier traversing. The pass offers excellent views of the whole area however strong winds make it hard to stay for more time.
Day4: Mayur to Sandhi/Taos (6-7 hours)
This is the last day of trek that can take you back to civilization. Treks ends at the village Sandhi. One daily hiace van runs between Sandhi and Gilgit that leaves Gilgit after dawn each morning. If you miss it, you will remain struck at this place for next 24 hours. There are more vans at Taos which is further half an hour ahead of Sandhi on the main Yasin road however all those vans also are available early morning only. From Taos, the vans take 3-4 hours to reach Gilgit via Gahkuch.