Lonely Planet Writer

Hunza Valley glaciers under threat after Pakistan earthquake

Pakistan‘s glaciers have suffered from the devastation wreaked on the region by the Afghan-Pakistan earthquake and cracks have been spotted in two glaciers in the Hunza Valley.

Northern areas of Pakistan have the largest body of ice outside of the poles
Northern areas of Pakistan have the largest body of ice outside of the poles. Image by Lonely Planet

The Northern-most regions of Pakistan share a border with the Himalayas, the Hindu Kush and the Karakoram, which together form the largest mass of ice outside of the Arctic and Antarctic Poles. But there is serious cause for alarm as the glaciers are thought to be melting at a higher rate than any other area of the world, causing floods and the creation of lakes. In fact, the speed at which these the glaciers are melting have created a phenomenon that geologists and scientists around the world are eager to study – ‘inland tsunamis’.

That’s what’s brought a team of geologists and researchers backed by the Royal Geographical Society in the UK to set up base camp in the Hunza Valley near the Yukshin Glacier to carry out the Karkarom Anomaly Project. The phenomenon of inland tsunamis is a result of the high volumes of ice melting and breaching dams, causing deadly floods and bursts of water.

The group is there to evaluate the level of risk of disastrous flooding and monitor the rate at which the glaciers are melting. As part of the expedition they wanted also to recreate famous photography by pioneering explorers from the 19th century who first ventured into  this part of the world, according to The Telegraph, and so are accompanied by photographer Tim Taylor on their mission.

The Karakoram mountains where Project Anomaly is taking place
The Karakoram mountains where Project Anomaly is taking place Image by Lonely Planet

The reason the area has remained mainly unknown to travellers is because travel alerts have been issued by most foreign offices warning people against visiting this area after 11 tourists were killed by the Taliban. Earlier this year the British Foreign Office lifted its warning on the area, making it possible for visitors to explore these mythical looking mountain tops and heights, where the biggest ice bodies are vanishing at a terrifying speed.

See Tim Taylor’s photos here. 

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