I have had a recent job switch. Before joining the rat-race, I wanted to spend some time in the wilderness. Aim was to be able to do something in 4-5 days. As it was still April, options were already limited. Rakaposhi base-camp was one option that I tempted to do but just a week ago, a powerful rainy spell came over and KKH got blocked at more than 20 places. It remained blocked for more than a week before getting reopened. Despite it getting functional, the situation was overall unstable and risky there so I changed my focus on to Chitral.
There were unconfirmed reports of Lawari top getting cleared of snow for traffic but the news couldn’t be completely trusted specially with the rain spell. The only two days when tunnel gets opened were Friday and Tuesday. So I had to plan the travel accordingly. That left us with three days of possible activity. I started going through the relevant pages on Chitral in the two available trekking guides – John Mock’s Trekking in the Hindukush and Karakorums and Isobel Shaw’s Trekking Guide of Pakistan. Target was to find something in relatively low altitude to avoid snow and to do it in three days. The best possible option came out to be doing the Chitral Gol National Park traverse from near Chitral to Rumbur in Kalash involving three trekking days. It involved two passes but both were under 3000 meters so seemed doable on the papers. I decided to discuss this plan with Imran Schah – the famous guide from Chitral who is considered an authority on trekking in Chitral. Luckily he was in Islamabad so I and Kashif went over to meet him. He however convinced us not to do Gol trek because of the glaciers in narrow patches of the valley that will need manual step-cutting and would become too hectic of a path to traverse in this early season. He rather suggested us to do Little TrichMir base. I had already looked at TrichMir base camp possibility which involved 5-6 days of trekking and ruled out that option because of duration. However, I didn’t know about the little one and this option seemed tempting enough. Though we were not to be able to see TrichMir up-close from this trek but this little one was also a massive six thousander peak and a seemed very attractive one to visit. If one has few days where one would like to do something in and around Chitral, this is a certainly a very good option to explore.
Trek to little TrichMir takes practically just a day. It starts from Shabronz village which is accessible from Chitral in 3-4 hours jeep drive. As of April 2016, we had to pay the driver 6000 Rs. for one way booking that we were able to hire from main Chitral bus station. Local passenger fare was Rs. 500 per person however there are limited jeeps for the area. The road to Shabronz turns left from the main Chitral-Mastuj road at Paprish one hour short of Buni. Porters can easily be hired from Shabronz who demanded Rs. 1000 per camp which was very reasonable. Matiullah was one the two porters we hired and was extremely helpful.
Once you start trek from main village, you will have to do a small ascend at the end of village houses which will take you to a well maintained trail heading North in the valley. The trek remains very stable and flat for initial hour or so and then gradually starts ascending. Two paths lead to the campsite before glacier. One moves along the stream is less strenuous but a little long. The other goes right along the manually built water channel and is steep at places but much shorter. In 5-6 hours you can reach a nice forested area known locally as Khoshal Kush. This is a nice campsite however there is no water source and needs to be fetched from stream below. As it was April, there was still snow there and we didn’t have to worry about water availability. If you go late in the season however, you can walk for another 30-40 minutes and camp near water source – this is what was mentioned by the porters. When we reached campsite, it was cloudy and we couldn’t see little TrichMir. When clouds finally move away, little TrichMir opened herself up and it was an amazing sight to have.
Ahead of forest is the glacier that needs to be traversed to reach real base-camp of little TrichMir. We were in no mood of adventure so preferred to camp in the forest and just walked up to the glacier head after pitching our tents. One can however cross the glacier and climb a pass towards west that offers views of the actual Trich Mir peak as well. Next day we returned back to Shabronz that took only 3 hours from our campsite.
As we were to be done with this trek in just a couple of days and had already planned for three days, we had an extra day that we wanted to spend well. We took help of the guide books again that I had taken along and there Isobel Shaw had recommended Buni Zom base hike as something to be done as local hike around Buni and so we decided to give it a try.
We reached Buni and stayed at White Rocks guest house which turned out to be an amazing place to stay with an equally amazing and hospitable owner Anwaar. Anwaar is a graduate of QAU Islamabad and was very happy to see some tourists which as per him were the first ones after an year.
Next morning, we set-off for Buni Zom trek after breakfast. Anwaar put us on the path by walking with us for initial 30 minutes till we crossed the stream. Soon after the main settlements ended, green meadows welcomed us that made the walk an enjoyable one. The target was to reach the apparently visible pass between the ridge from where we assumed we will be able to get clear views of Buni Zom. After around a couple of hours, a few settlements come with beautiful meadows and water source named locally as Shipishoon. From here the top is another hour walk away with a steep ascend. The moment we finally made it to the top, we became speechless. It was whole panoramic view of the 6000m+ snow-covered Buni Zom range which was breathtaking. It was a treat to be on top of that pass as we had not expected to get this panorama up-close with such moderate walk.
We were greeted by Anwaar on our way back. To our surprise, he had got this special bread and soup prepared from him home. This special bread that they call as Sheer Shapiq had a special mixture of milk and ghee in it that made it one of the most delicious dishes we have ever had. A day which we had got saved from the trek turned out to be an amazing day.
These two treks of Buni Zom and Little TrichMir provide excellent options if one has limited days in Chitral and Buni for trekking.