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Day 19: The Karakoram Highway

Michael Palin - HimalayaThere are few spots where the consequences of tectonic trauma are more dramatically visible than at the Rakaposhi View Restaurant in Ghulmet. Rakaposhi is one of the most imposing peaks of the Karakoram, rising to 25,500 feet (7772 m). As we sit at a table beneath a willow tree eating fresh-picked cherries we are looking at the highest unbroken mountainside on earth. From the River Hunza, just below us, to the summit of its western face far above us, a single slope rises 18,000 feet (5486 m). Three and a quarter miles of rock, glacier and gravity-defying terraces of snow and ice.

And the lavatory's spotless.

The KKH, like an earlier engineering marvel, the Forth Railway Bridge, needs constant attention as the road climbs higher and the ice cracks the rock and the snowmelt sends the rubble slithering down onto the highway. So it's no great surprise to hear that a landslide has blocked the road between here and the 16,000-foot (4877 m) Khunjerab Pass which leads into China. Even if we got there we couldn't go further, as the frontier has been closed due to the SARS epidemic. We detour up to the village of Altit.
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  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 19: The Karakoram Highway
  • Country/sea: Pakistan
  • Place: The Karakoram Highway
  • Book page no: 43

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  • Day 5 
  • Around the World in 80 Days
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  • Pole to Pole