National Geographic : 1960 Jan
Sky Road East and to get permission to visit Pakistan's wild, strategic hinterland.* We were bound for "the land that stands on end"-the fabled Hunza Valley in the Karakoram Range, which lies just across the frontier from Red China's Sinkiang province. Hunza had been one of my objectives ever since I crossed the Himalayas to Tibet with my father in 1949. Like Tibet, it is also "out of this world." Few have visited it. Mountains Blaze the Route to Gilgit From Karachi we flew north-northeast for 100 miles or so to the wide bend of the Indus River, then followed a tributary, the Chenab, to the city of Multan. Here we found the two airport runways made entirely of bricks - millions of them-all laid as neatly as on the best suburban terrace in America! Refueled, we followed river and railroad on to Rawalpindi. The next day we took off, again northward, for Gilgit. Rawalpindi had produced no maps to check our own. But there was little question of los- ing our way; it led up the great gorge of the Indus, perhaps the most stupendous ravine on earth. Colossal 20,000-foot mountains stood like snowy markers in the sky. As we entered the gorge-miles wide at its mouth-sparsely wooded slopes rose above our right wing to 9,000 feet. Far to the west, 19,000-foot peaks lay hidden in gray mist. But here the air was smooth and the sky clear. Farther on, the great walls of gray rock closed in more and more, and the air grew turbulent. I added power and climbed to 11,000 feet, reaching not only smoother air but a vastly widened panorama. The Indus turned 90 degrees to the east, the gorge broadened, and there, 60 miles ahead, towered Nanga Parbat, ice-crowned killer of 31 mountaineers. High cirrus clouds concealed the 26,660-foot summit, but we could see nearly all of its four-mile rise from the river below. * See "Pakistan, New Nation in an Old Land," by Jean and Franc Shor, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, Novem ber, 1952. Boulders Teetering on the Verge of Avalanche Beset the Trail to Hunza Guided by the Mir of Hunza's porters, Mrs. Haws precedes her sister Tay. The authors will never forget "the most dangerous path we faced in all our travels."