Video & Photo Story: Facing K2 - An MTB Adventure in Pakistan

Oct 28, 2020
by Gerhard Czerner  
Views: 6,401    Faves: 15    Comments: 1


bigquotesOne of the most impressive places I visited...




Looking back, to the beginning of this tour, I’m almost sure that if we had known how exhausting this trip would become, we would have never found ourselves here in Pakistan. Our goal is to reach the „Throne Room of the Mountain Goods,” the Concordia in the heart of the Karakoram mountain range in Pakistan by bike. There is probably no other high-altitude mountain range this spectacular on Earth. You can’t find such a density of peaks and chains of mountains above six-, seven-, and eight-thousand meters anywhere else. Not even in the Himalayas.



Photo by Martin Bissig
Photo by Martin Bissig

Photo by Martin Bissig


We arrive at the small airport in Skardu, the main region in Baltistan in August 2019. The small, dirty, and seemingly poor city on the Indus river surprises us with its cordial and open residents. Excitement ensues everywhere we arrive with our mountain bikes. We’re under the impression that Pakistan is just as interested in us as we are in it.


Photo by Martin Bissig

Photo by Martin Bissig
Photo by Martin Bissig


We leave Skardu in a Jeep and reach the starting point of our bike tour, the idyllic mountain village of Hushe, after two days of driving. We plan three days of biking/hiking and two rest days until finally crossing the highest pass, Gondogor La 5600m, to slowly get used to the steadily increasing altitude. We know that acclimatization is utterly important at high altitude. The places we camp seem to be fighting for superlatives. One is more impressive than the other.


Photo by Martin Bissig


Photo by Martin Bissig
Photo by Martin Bissig

Photo by Martin Bissig



Whenever we ask Isaak, our Pakistani guide, how the path will be the following day he just answers with a broad grin: „Too easy! No problem.” But we all agree that it’s become pretty exhausting for “too easy.” So, we’re a little unnerved when we ask about the crossing of the pass on our rest day when the answer is „Maybe a little hard. But no problem.“ So ok. And that’s how it is going to be. We take off at 9pm for our deciding leg of the tour. We reach the height of the pass at 5am, completely worn. We are more than compensated with bright sunshine and a truly unique panorama. Four of the 14 mountains higher than 8000 meters are in front of us: K2, Broad Peak, Gasherbrum 1 & 2. Next to them we see uncountable other peaks and razor-sharp ridges.


Photo by Martin Bissig
Photo by Martin Bissig


Photo by Martin Bissig



We were hoping for a downhill ride. What we find is a snow-covered descend, secured by fixed ropes between the crevasses. No bike riding for the next hours. It’s past noon as we reach the Baltoro Glacier. We can now move on, rolling on our bikes. Our goal, the Concordia, lies somewhere at the foot of the pyramid of K2, the “mountain of mountains”, looming in front of us. We reach our camp there at 9pm, after 21 hours. Our relief is equal to our exhaustion.


Photo by Martin Bissig
Photo by Martin Bissig

Photo by Martin Bissig

Photo by Martin Bissig

Photo by Martin Bissig



We also know that there is still a long way to go. We spend three of the four following days crossing the Baltoro Glacier. We are often forced to push or even carry our bikes with the millions of rocks strewn across. We enjoy the passages we are able to ride even more. We pass granite walls thousands of meters high and countless peaks. The path leads us across endless fields of rubble out of this breathtaking landscape. The last leg to Askole, the first settlement we reach after ten days in the mountains, really turns out to be “too easy” and pretty good to ride. We fall into each others arms, exhausted but exalted.


Photo by Martin Bissig

Photo by Martin Bissig

Photo by Martin Bissig



Looking back, we all agree: even though we were able to ride less than we had hoped, even though the tour was more exhausting that we could have imagined, even though we all had to leave our comfort zone not only once – it was worth every minute. The cordial, helpful people, the impressive mountain landscape, and last but not least our perfectly functioning, harmonious team made this trip to one of the most extraordinary bike expeditions we have ever experienced. Big thanks to our helpful crew, they supported us a lot and made this trip a big success for all of us.






Rider: Gerhard Czerner & Jakob Breitwieser

Photo/Film/Edit: Martin Bissig


38 Comments

  • 24 0
 Putting the mountain back into mountain biking.
This is awesome I love this stuff set in the really high mountains Karakoram/Hindu Kush/ Himalaya
Nice work.

Must dig out Chasing the Yeti and that documentary Joey Schusler did about RJ ripper.
  • 3 0
 I've always wanted to go to North Pakistan. I doubt I ever will before I'm too old. Unbelievable place by the looks of it.
  • 5 0
 @jaame: my dad said he'd pay me 5 bucks if I climb K2
  • 13 0
 Top that pic of him jumping with K2 in the background.
  • 2 0
 That shot reminds me of the old Kranked videos, when they would travel to places like that and rip. Or the old Hans Rey Adventure shows. Backpack and all! Awesome.
  • 8 1
 I really appreciate the amazing footage you brought with you. But I don't think the little annotation for ATP in the end is doing the work of porters and other supporters justice! In your the story you are leaving out all the people who made that possible for you. Please correct me if I'm wrong , but I don't think you had all of your 16-days expedition equipment in a little Deuter daypack.
  • 3 1
 100%
8-9 porters? I'm all for #keepthemountaininmountainbiking yet credit where credit is due. Correct me otherwise.
  • 2 0
 Word! I totally agree with this. This is a great article, I love the photos, but the omission of the supporting players is a real miss.
  • 7 0
 Woa!!! This is top PB content for sure. While BC is great, I'd love to see more trip video/photo stories like this from elsewhere in the world. Just wish the video and story were longer! The pictures are superb! Kudos to you guys! Lifetime memories and mind bending vistas!
To me, alpine riding is the pinnacle of mountain biking! Porters or not, this must have been an exhausting trip just because of the altitude factor, let alone carrying your bike most of the way.
After watching Zabardast on youtube last week (an awesome ski/snowboard/mountaineering expedition to the Karakoram area), I was wondering if there were some rideable trails in that area during the summer. Thanks for answering the question!
  • 4 0
 Back in the early 90s, my dad got the first ascent of that tall rock spire on the right in the first landscape photo. Used to hear some crazy stories and see photos of it all the time when I was a kid, and recognized the face instantly. Pretty cool to see people are still pushing boundaries in that same region, now by bike!
  • 2 0
 Props to your Dad. It's wild country in every sense of the word
  • 5 0
 STUNNING! So glad we can still travel to foreign places even if it's just in our heads for now.
  • 2 0
 I was prepared to go into this thinking the video would be contrived and focus too much on the very limited biking.
However, it was fairly well balanced. Would have liked to know more about the support provided by Adventure Tours Pakistan but it showcased the warmth and hospitality of the people and of course, the unparalleled scenery and views of a small part of the Karakoram and K2 approaches

Found the company here fyi atp.com.pk
  • 1 0
 Hey Jakob, why did you replace your usual intend setup with a Fox-Setup? Easier to service? I would think that's completely irrelevant where you've been as there's neither a Cornelius nor a Fox Service Center within the next 1000km?
  • 5 0
 Brilliant, we need more content like this!
  • 2 0
 I'm blown away by the intro. I wouldn't even think about going fast enough to get my front wheel to leave the ground on an exposed, skinny trial like that, and this guy just goes mad with a jump *and* and whip? Wtf
  • 3 0
 Amazing images, amazing trip! Truly what mountain biking is all about, love it.
  • 2 0
 The day will come, somebody would roll down the top of K2 on the mountain bike! )))
  • 2 0
 So envious!!! What a trip...
  • 1 0
 Love these types of trips. The best kind of mountain biking to me. Thanks for the post.
  • 2 0
 Great stuff!
  • 1 0
 you know it's tough when posing for a bike shot wearing crampons!
  • 1 0
 A real dream comes true, love it..!
  • 1 0
 Un F-in believable. What an experience!
  • 1 0
 That was awesome!!! Thanks for sharing that!
  • 1 0
 Some of the best images I’ve seen. Brilliant stuff.
  • 1 0
 Breathtaking images Salute
  • 1 0
 Holy. Crap.! Totally astounding adventure. Kudos.
  • 1 0
 That was fantastic, what a journey!
  • 1 0
 Epic adventure. Beautiful pics!
  • 1 0
 stuff what mountain biking dreams are made of
  • 1 0
 Incredible
  • 1 0
 Beautiful!!!
  • 1 0
 OUTSTANDING!!!!
  • 1 0
 Envious
  • 1 0
 nice! good Job!
  • 1 0
 Awesome!!

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