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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Baltoro glacier in the central Karakoram with 8000ers Gasherbrum I & II.
Countries Pakistan, India, China
Regions Gilgit-Baltistan, Ladakh, Xinjiang
Borders on Ladakh Range, Pamirs, Hindu Raj (Hindu Kush)
Highest point K2
 - elevation 8,611 m (28,251 ft)
 - coordinates 35°52′57″N 76°30′48″E / 35.8825°N 76.51333°E / 35.8825; 76.51333
Highest Karakoram peaks as seen from International Space Station

Karakoram (or Karakorum) is a large mountain range spanning the borders between Pakistan, India and China, located in the regions of Gilgit-Baltistan (Pakistan), Ladakh (India), and Xinjiang region, (China). It is one of the Greater Ranges of Asia, a part of the greater Himalaya while north of the actual Himalaya Range.

The Karakoram is home to the highest concentration of peaks over five miles in height to be found anywhere on earth[1], including K2, the second highest peak of the world (8,611 m/28,251 ft). K2 is just 237 m (778 ft) lower than the 8,848 m (29,029 ft) tall Mount Everest.

The range is about 500 km (311 mi) in length, and is the most heavily glaciated part of the world outside of the polar regions. The Siachen Glacier at 70 km and the Biafo Glacier at 63 km rank as the world's second and third longest glaciers outside the polar regions.[2]

The Karakoram is bounded on the northeast by the edge of the Tibetan Plateau, and on the north by the Pamir Mountains. The southern boundary of the Karakoram is formed, west to east, by the Gilgit, Indus, and Shyok Rivers, which separate the range from the northwestern end of the Himalaya range proper as these rivers converge southwestward towards the plains of Pakistan.

Due to its altitude and ruggedness, the Karakoram is much less inhabited than parts of the Himalayas further east. European explorers first visited early in the 19th century, followed by British surveyors starting in 1856.

The Muztagh Pass was crossed in 1887 by the expedition of Colonel Francis Younghusband and the valleys above the Hunza River were explored by George Cockerill in 1892. Explorations in the 1910s and 1920s established most of the geography of the region.


Geological importance

The Karakoram and the Himalayas are important to Earth scientists for several reasons. They are one of the world's most geologically active areas, at the boundary between two colliding continents. Therefore, they are important in the study of plate tectonics. Mountain glaciers may serve as an indicator of climate change, advancing and receding with long-term changes in temperature and precipitation. These extensive ranges may have even caused climate change when they were formed over 40 million years ago. The large amounts of rock exposed to the atmosphere are weathered (broken down) by carbon dioxide. This process removes the greenhouse gas from the atmosphere, and could have caused the global climate to cool, triggering an ongoing series of ice ages.

Highest peaks

K2 (Qogir Feng)

The Notable Peaks of the Karakoram are:

The majority of the highest peaks are in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan. Baltistan has more than 100 mountain peaks exceeding 6,100 metres (20,000 ft) height from sea level.


View of the moon over Karakoram Range in Pakistan

The naming and division of the various subranges of the Karakoram is not universally agreed upon. However, the following is a list of the most important subranges, following Jerzy Wala.[3] The ranges are listed roughly west to east.

Popular culture

The Karakoram mountain range has been referred to in a number of novels and movies.

Rudyard Kipling refers to the Karakorum mountain range in his novel Kim, which was first published in 1900.

Marcel Ichac made a film titled Karakoram, chronicling a French expedition to the range in 1936. The film won the Silver Lion at the Venice film festival of 1937.

Greg Mortenson details the Karakoram, and specifically K2 and the Balti, extensively in his book Three Cups of Tea, about his quest to build schools for girls in the region.

See also

Pakistani truck on the Karakoram Highway. Nanga Parbat, in the Himalaya Range (not the Karakoram Range) is visible in the background


  1. ^ BBC, Planet Earth, "Mountains", Part Three
  2. ^ Tajikistan's Fedchenko Glacier is 77 km long. Baltoro and Batura Glaciers in the Karakoram are 57 km long, as is Bruggen or Pio XI Glacier in southern Chile. Measurements are from recent imagery, generally supplemented with Russian 1:200,000 scale topographic mapping as well as Jerzy Wala,Orographical Sketch Map: Karakoram: Sheets 1 & 2, Swiss Foundation for Alpine Research, Zurich, 1990.
  3. ^ Jerzy Wala, Orographical Sketch Map of the Karakoram, Swiss Foundation for Alpine Research, Zurich, 1990.


  • Curzon, George Nathaniel. 1896. The Pamirs and the Source of the Oxus. Royal Geographical Society, London. Reprint: Elibron Classics Series, Adamant Media Corporation. 2005. ISBN 1-4021-5983-8 (pbk); ISBN 1-4021-3090-2 (hbk).
  • Kreutzmann, Hermann, Karakoram in Transition: Culture, Development, and Ecology in the Hunza Valley, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2006. ISBN 9780195472103
  • Mortenson, Greg and Relin, David Oliver. 2008. Three Cups of Tea. Penguin Books Ltd. ISBN 978-0141034263 (pbk); Viking Books ISBN 978-0670034826 (hbk); Tantor Media ISBN 978-1400152513 (MP3 CD).
  • Kipling, Rudyard 2002. Kim (novel); ed. by Zohreh T. Sullivan. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 039396650X—This is the most extensive critical modern edition with footnotes, essays, maps, etc.

External links

Coordinates: 36°N 76°E / 36°N 76°E / 36; 76


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Karakoram Highway article)

From Wikitravel

This article is an itinerary.

The Karakoram Highway (also spelled Karakorum) runs between Western China and Pakistan (through disputed Kashmir). It is one of the very few routes that cross the Himalayas and the most westerly of them. Following the KKH is considered to be one of the classic journeys of the travel world, it is also the highest road in the World.


Historically, this was a caravan trail, one branch of the ancient Silk Road. More recently, the Chinese and Pakistani governments have built a highway.

It is the highest border crossing in the world, over 4800 meters (roughly 16,000 feet) in the Khunjerab Pass at the border. For comparison, Mont Blanc, the tallest mountain in Western Europe, is 4810 m and Mount Whitney, the highest point in the 48 contiguous United States, is 4421.

It may be the ultimate challenge for the devoted cyclist. There are organized bicycle tours, and several books about bicycling this route. Unfortunately the border is not open for cyclists. Everybody has to board the bus in either Tashkurgan (China) or Sost (Pakistan). From the Pakistani side you CAN cycle up to the pass, but not over it. You will have to return to Sost to take the bus.


Choose your time carefully. The highway is closed to tourists for part of the winter and the desert area at its northern end can be very hot in summer.

Get in

The usual jumping off points are Kashgar on the Chinese end or Gilgit in Pakistan. You can take a PIA flight or bus from Gilgit to Islamabad the capital of Pakistan.


The highway passes the Hunza Valley The Hunza was the original Shangri La that inspired the novel (and later movie). Hunza is known for its orchards, moderate Islam, welcoming hospitality and beautiful scenery.

  • Serena Hotel, Gilgit, [1].  edit
  • Hunza Baltit inn, Hunza_Valley, [2].  edit
  • Shigar Fort Residence, Shigar Valley in Skardu Valley, [3].  edit
  • Shangrila Resort, Near Shangrila lake, also called Kachura lake, [4]. Place of complete bliss and delight and peace  edit
  • K2 Motel, In Skardu. There is also a museum on K2 expedition near the motel  edit
  • PTDC Motel, Chilas, [5].  edit
  • PC Bhurban, Near Murree in Bhurban, on your way to Islamabad from Karakoram Highway, [6]. is a five star holiday resort  edit
  • Marco Polo inn, Gulmit Village in Hunza Valley (Along Karakoram Highway), [7]. checkout: 12 noon. The Gulmit museum, full of traditional ethnic artifacts is part of the Marco Polo Inn.  edit

Stay safe

There is considerable risk of altitude sickness on this route. Weather can be extreme and much of the territory is fairly wild and remote.

Get out

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary


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Proper noun


  1. a mountain range located in Gilgit, Ladakh & Baltistan. The Karakoram range is home to more than sixty peaks above 7,000m (22,960 ft), most of which are in the Northern Areas of Pakistan, including K2, the second highest peak of the world (8,611 m, 28,244 ft).


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