Early in the morning of July 12th we set off from Passu to the Yashpirt summer pasture on the Batura Glacier (fourth longest glacier in the Karakorum).
Our team included Imran, 2 porters Ghulam Haideo and Ameer Ahmed Jan, Pat and myself.
Our objective was to hike up the lateral moraine above Passu, cross the Batura glacier, and hike along the northern edge ascending above the glacier to the shepherd’s summer camp of Yashpirt at 3302m.
In spring, residents of Passu area travel with their goats/sheep and yaks to the summer pastures of Yashpirt. They return to Passu in the autumn moving their animals to winter pasture lower down.
Our focus was to do health assessments and health education with the shepherds in the pasture.
We started out early to avoid some of the mid-day heat. We had nice temperatures as we ascended the moraine. The temperatures increased as we crossed the broken up, convoluted glacier and increased further as we hiked along its northern edge. We had some relief from the intermittent shade of the lush wild rose bushes, juniper, willow and tamarisk as we moved closer to Yashpirt. It should be noted that there is no easy access to potable water from the trail head until close to Yashpirt. In the late afternoon we ascended to the juniper protected Yashpirt summer pasture to be greeted by two shepherds. They had just come down from the high country with their 2000 sheep and goats. We had a cup of chai before they put their animals into their nightime safe enclosure to protect them from predators. The main predators in this area are foxes, wolves and snow leopards.
This year the residents of Passu decided to delay their move up to the summer pasture until a week later because of the weather.
We did health assessments on those shepherds that were there and discussed some of the potential health issues associated with people living close to their animals.
We discussed reducing or preferably eliminating adding salt to chai and increasing daily water intake. We discussed the greenhouse idea and solar powered electric fences to avoid overgrazing.
We camped on a beautiful grassy area looking across at the upper Batura glacier, Batura Peak and surrounding ice floes.
We were treated to the powerful sounds of calving ice from the glacier throughout the night.
We donated a solar lantern and Pat donated his sleeping bag before we descended towards Passu the following morning.
It was a beautiful hike out with spectacular views down to the Passu Valley.
The following day we visited the Aga Khan Health Centre in Gulmit. At present there are no doctors there.(there had been two doctors there the last time I visited).They have a midwife(from Chipursan) and an LHV currently working there. Their e-health program is currently inactive at present. They are currently trying to negotiate with the KADO IT Centre to share some of their internet capacity.
Apparently there are currently 2 doctors stationed at the government hospital in Gulmit.
We then crossed the lake on a nice sunny day heading towards Karimibad.
The lake is still a busy place and perhaps a bit less dusty than in the past.
We had a very productive meeting with the staff at the KADO headquarters in Aliabad prior to our departure to Gilgit.