Introducing Astor Valley & Nanga Parbat
The Nanga Parbat massif is the western anchor of the Great Himalaya. Its south (Rupal) face is a sheer 4500m wall, too steep for snow to stick – hence its name, Urdu for ‘Naked Mountain’. The north (Raikot) face steps down 7000m to the Indus. A large number of climbers have been killed trying to scale this mountain.
The hair-raising track beside it, up the Astor Valley and over the Burzil Pass, was the only link between British India and Gilgit until the Babusar Pass was opened in 1892. The India-Pakistan Line of Control has closed the Burzil, but Astor is still the best way to get up close to the mountain. Four-wheel drives regularly fell off the track until it was improved. It’s now wider and safer, but probably no more comfortable.
Astor Valley is about 75% Sunni and 25% Shiite, the latter mainly in the upper tributaries. Everyone speaks Shina and almost nobody speaks English. Some food is available in Astor, but if you’re going further or camping it’s a good idea to bring some supplies.