Karakoram

The Karakoram or Karakorum (Hindi: काराकोरम)is a large mountain range spanning the borders of Pakistan, India, and China, with the northwest extremity of the range extending to Afghanistan and Tajikistan. It begins in the Wakhan Corridor (Afghanistan) in the west and encompasses the majority of Gilgit–Baltistan (Pakistan) and extends into Ladakh (India), and the disputed Aksai Chin region controlled by China. It is the second highest mountain range in the world, and part of the complex of ranges including the Pamir Mountains, the Hindu Kush and the Himalayan Mountains.[1][2]. The Karakoram has eight summits over 7,500 m (24,600 ft) height, with four of them exceeding 8,000 m (26,000 ft):[3] K2, the second highest peak in the world at 8,611 m (28,251 ft), Gasherbrum I, Broad Peak and Gasherbrum II.

The range is about 500 km (311 mi) in length, and is the most heavily glaciated part of the world outside the polar regions. The Siachen Glacier at 76 kilometres (47 mi) and the Biafo Glacier at 63 kilometres (39 mi) rank as the world's second and third longest glaciers outside the polar regions.[4]

The Karakoram is bounded on the east by the Aksai Chin plateau, on the northeast by the edge of the Tibetan Plateau, and on the north by the river valleys of the Yarkand and Karakash rivers beyond which lie the Kunlun Mountains. At the northwest corner are 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. These rivers flow northwest before making an abrupt turn southwestward towards the plains of Pakistan. Roughly in the middle of the Karakoram range is the Karakoram Pass, which was part of a historic trade route between Ladakh and Yarkand but now inactive.

The Tashkurghan National Nature Reserve and the Pamir Wetlands National Nature Reserve in the Karalorun and Pamir mountains have been nominated for inclusion in UNESCO in 2010 by the National Commission of the People's Republic of China for UNESCO and has tentatively been added to the list.[5]

Karakoram
काराकोरम
Baltoro glacier from air
Baltoro glacier in the central Karakoram with 8000ers, Gasherbrum I & II
Highest point
PeakK2, Pakistan and China
Elevation8,611 m (28,251 ft)
Coordinates35°52′57″N 76°30′48″E / 35.88250°N 76.51333°E
Naming
Native name
  • काराकोरम पर्वतशृंखला  (Hindi)
  • سلسلہ کوہ قراقرم  (Urdu)
  • 喀喇崑崙山脈  (Chinese)
Geography
High Asia Mountain Ranges
Karakoram and other ranges of Central Asia
Countries
States/ProvincesGilgit-Baltistan, Ladakh, Xinjiang and Badakhshan
Range coordinates36°N 76°E / 36°N 76°ECoordinates: 36°N 76°E / 36°N 76°E
Borders on

Name

Biafo Glacier, Gilgit Region
"Karakoram" is a Turkic word referencing the mountains' black gravel, as seen near Pakistan's Biafo Glacier.

Karakoram is a Turkic term meaning black gravel. The Central Asian traders originally applied the name to the Karakoram Pass.[6] Early European travellers, including William Moorcroft and George Hayward, started using the term for the range of mountains west of the pass, although they also used the term Muztagh (meaning, "Ice Mountain") for the range now known as Karakoram.[6][7] Later terminology was influenced by the Survey of India, whose surveyor Thomas Montgomerie in the 1850s gave the labels K1 to K6 (K for Karakoram) to six high mountains visible from his station at Mount Haramukh in Kashmir.

In ancient Sanskrit texts (Puranas), the name Krishnagiri (black mountains) was used to describe the range.[8][9]

Exploration

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[10] and the valleys above the Hunza River were explored by General Sir George K. Cockerill in 1892. Explorations in the 1910s and 1920s established most of the geography of the region.

The name Karakoram was used in the early 20th century, for example by Kenneth Mason,[6] for the range now known as the Baltoro Muztagh. The term is now used to refer to the entire range from the Batura Muztagh above Hunza in the west to the Saser Muztagh in the bend of the Shyok River in the east.

Hunza Valley, view from Eagle's Nest
Hunza Valley in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan

Floral surveys were carried out in the Shyok River catchment and from Panamik to Turtuk village by Chandra Prakash Kala during 1999 and 2000.[11][12]

Geology and glaciers

The Karakoram is in one of the world's most geologically active areas, at the plate boundary between the Indo-Australian plate and the Eurasian plate.[13] A significant part, 28-50% of the Karakoram Range is glaciated, compared to the Himalaya (8-12%) and Alps (2.2%).[14] Mountain glaciers may serve as an indicator of climate change, advancing and receding with long-term changes in temperature and precipitation. The Karakoram glaciers are slightly retreating,[15][16][17] unlike the Himalayas where glaciers are losing mass at significantly higher rate, many Karakoram glaciers are covered in a layer of rubble which insulates the ice from the warmth of the sun. Where there is no such insulation, the rate of retreat is high.[18]

The Karakoram during the Ice Age

In the last ice age, a connected series of glaciers stretched from western Tibet to Nanga Parbat, and from the Tarim basin to the Gilgit District.[19][20][21] To the south, the Indus glacier was the main valley glacier, which flowed 120 kilometres (75 mi) down from Nanga Parbat massif to 870 metres (2,850 ft) elevation.[19][22] In the north, the Karakoram glaciers joined those from the Kunlun Mountains and flowed down to 2,000 metres (6,600 ft) in the Tarim basin.[21][23]

While the current valley glaciers in the Karakoram reach a maximum length of 76 kilometres (47 mi), several of the ice-age valley glacier branches and main valley glaciers, had lengths up to 700 kilometres (430 mi). During the Ice Age, the glacier snowline was about 1,300 metres (4,300 ft) lower than today.[21][22]

Highest peaks

Baltoro region from space annotated
Highest Karakoram peaks in the Baltoro region as seen from International Space Station

The highest 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.

K-numbers

Liban K2 sumit 1 resize
View from the top of K2

Subranges

Karakoram Range
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.[24] The ranges are listed roughly west to east.

Passes

Chinese and Pakistan border guards at Khunjerab Pass IMG 7721 Karakoram Highway
Chinese and Pakistani border guards at Khunjerab Pass

From west to east

The Khunjerab Pass is the only motorable pass across the range. The Shimshal Pass (which does not cross an international border) is the only other pass still in regular use.

Cultural references

The Karakoram mountain range has been referred to in a number of novels and movies. Rudyard Kipling refers to the Karakoram 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 children in the region. In the Gatchaman TV series, the Karakoram range houses Galactor's headquarters. K2 Kahani (The K2 Story) by Mustansar Hussain Tarar describes his experiences at K2 base camp.[25]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Bessarabov, Georgy Dmitriyevich (7 February 2014). "Karakoram Range". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 3 May 2015.
  2. ^ "Hindu Kush Himalayan Region". ICIMOD. Retrieved 17 October 2014.
  3. ^ Shukurov, The Natural Environment of Central and South Asia 2005, p. 512; Voiland, Adam (2013). "The Eight-Thousanders". Nasa Earth Observatory. Retrieved 23 December 2016.; BBC, Planet Earth, "Mountains", Part Three
  4. ^ Tajikistan's Fedchenko Glacier is 77 kilometres (48 mi) long. Baltoro and Batura Glaciers in the Karakoram are 57 kilometres (35 mi) 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.
  5. ^ "Karakorum-Pamir". unesco. Retrieved 16 February 2013.
  6. ^ a b c Mason, Kenneth (1928). Exploration of the Shaksgam Valley and Aghil ranges, 1926. p. 72. ISBN 9788120617940.
  7. ^ Close C, Burrard S, Younghusband F, et al. (1930). "Nomenclature in the Karakoram: Discussion". The Geographical Journal. Blackwell Publishing. 76 (2): 148–158. doi:10.2307/1783980. JSTOR 1783980.
  8. ^ Raza, Moonis; Ahmad, Aijazuddin; Mohammad, Ali (1978), The Valley of Kashmir: The land, Vikas Pub. House, p. 2, ISBN 978-0-7069-0525-0
  9. ^ Chatterjee, Shiba Prasad (2004), Selected Works of Professor S.P. Chatterjee, Volume 1, National Atlas and Thematic Mapping Organisation, Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, p. 139
  10. ^ French, Patrick. (1994). Younghusband: The Last Great Imperial Adventurer, pp. 53, 56-60. HarperCollinsPublishers, London. Reprint (1995): Flamingo. London. ISBN 0-00-637601-0.
  11. ^ Kala, Chandra Prakash (2005). "Indigenous Uses, Population Density, and Conservation of Threatened Medicinal Plants in Protected Areas of the Indian Himalayas". Conservation Biology. 19 (2): 368–378. doi:10.1111/j.1523-1739.2005.00602.x.
  12. ^ Kala, Chandra Prakash (2005). "Health traditions of Buddhist community and role of amchis in trans-Himalayan region of India" (PDF). Current Science. 89 (8): 1331.
  13. ^ Searle, Michael P., Geological evolution of the Karakoram Ranges, Ital.J.Geosci, (Boll.Soc.Geo.It.), Vol. 130, No. 2 (2011), pp. 147-159, 5 figs. (DOI: 10.3301/IJG.2011.08)
  14. ^ Gansser (1975). Geology of the Himalayas. London: Interscience Publishers.
  15. ^ Gallessich, Gail (2011). "Debris on certain Himalayan glaciers may prevent melting". sciencedaily.com. Retrieved January 30, 2011.
  16. ^ Muhammad, Sher. "Changes in the ablation zones of glaciers in the western Himalaya and the Karakoram between 1972 and 2015". Remote Sensing of Environment.
  17. ^ "Changes in the ablation zones of glaciers in the western Himalaya and the Karakoram between 1972 and 2015". Remote Sensing of Environment. 187: 505–512. 2016-12-15. doi:10.1016/j.rse.2016.10.034. ISSN 0034-4257.
  18. ^ Veettil, B.K. (2012). "A Remote sensing approach for monitoring debris-covered glaciers in the high altitude Karakoram Himalayas". International Journal of Geomatics and Geosciences. 2 (3): 833–841.
  19. ^ a b Kuhle, M. (1988). "The Pleistocene Glaciation of Tibet and the Onset of Ice Ages- An Autocycle Hypothesis.Tibet and High Asia. Results of the Sino-German Joint Expeditions (I)". GeoJournal. 17 (4): 581–596. doi:10.1007/BF00209444.
  20. ^ Kuhle, M. (2006). "The Past Hunza Glacier in Connection with a Pleistocene Karakoram Ice Stream Network during the Last Ice Age (Würm)". In Kreutzmann, H.; Saijid, A. (eds.). Karakoram in Transition. Karachi, Pakistan: Oxford University Press. pp. 24–48.
  21. ^ a b c Kuhle, M. (2011). "The High Glacial (Last Ice Age and Last Glacial Maximum) Ice Cover of High and Central Asia, with a Critical Review of Some Recent OSL and TCN Dates". In Ehlers, J.; Gibbard, P.L.; Hughes, P.D. (eds.). Quaternary Glaciation - Extent and Chronology, A Closer Look. Amsterdam: Elsevier BV. pp. 943–965. (glacier maps downloadable)
  22. ^ a b Kuhle, M. (2001). "Tibet and High Asia (VI): Glaciogeomorphology and Prehistoric Glaciation in the Karakoram and Himalaya". GeoJournal. 54 (1–4): 109–396. doi:10.1023/A:1021307330169.
  23. ^ Kuhle, M. (1994). "Present and Pleistocene Glaciation on the North-Western Margin of Tibet between the Karakoram Main Ridge and the Tarim Basin Supporting the Evidence of a Pleistocene Inland Glaciation in Tibet. Tibet and High Asia. Results of the Sino-German and Russian-German Joint Expeditions (III)". GeoJournal. Dordrecht, Boston, London: Kluwer. 33 (2/3): 133–272. doi:10.1007/BF00812877.
  24. ^ Jerzy Wala, Orographical Sketch Map of the Karakoram, Swiss Foundation for Alpine Research, Zurich, 1990.
  25. ^ Tarar, Mustansar Hussain (1994). K2 kahani. Lahore: Sang-e-Meel (published in Urdu). p. 179. ISBN 9693505239.

References

External links

Aksai Chin

Aksai Chin (Chinese: 阿克赛钦; pinyin: Ākèsài Qīn; Uyghur: ﺋﺎﻗﺴﺎﻱ ﭼﯩﻦ‎; Hindi: अक्साई चिन; Urdu: اکسائی چن‎) is a disputed border area between China and India. It is largely part of Hotan County, which lies in the southwestern part of Hotan Prefecture of Xinjiang Autonomous Region in China, with a small portion on the southeast and south sides lying within the extreme west of the Tibet Autonomous Region. But it is also claimed by India as a part of the Ladakh region of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. In 1962, China and India fought a brief war in Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh, but in 1993 and 1996, the two countries signed agreements to respect the Line of Actual Control.

Central Karakoram National Park

Central Karakoram National Park (Urdu: میانی قراقرم ملی باغ‎) is a national park located in Skardu district of Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan. It encompasses some of the world’s highest peaks and largest glaciers. Internationally renowned for mountaineering, rock climbing and trekking opportunities, it covers an area of about 10,000 sq. km and contains the greatest concentration of high mountains on earth. It has four peaks over 8,000 m including K2 (8611 m), Gasherbrum-I (8068 m), Gasherbrum-II (8035 m) and Broad Peak (8051 m), and sixty peaks higher than 7,000 m.

Gasherbrum I

Gasherbrum I (Urdu: گاشر برم -1‎; simplified Chinese: 加舒尔布鲁木I峰; traditional Chinese: 加舒爾布魯木I峰; pinyin: Jiāshūěrbùlǔmù I Fēng), surveyed as K5 and also known as Hidden Peak, is the 11th highest mountain in the world at 8,080 metres (26,510 ft) above sea level. It is located on the Pakistan–Chinese border and Xinjiang region of China. Gasherbrum I is part of the Gasherbrum massif, located in the Karakoram region of the Himalaya. Gasherbrum is often claimed to mean "Shining Wall", presumably a reference to the highly visible face of the neighboring peak Gasherbrum IV; but in fact it comes from "rgasha" (beautiful) + "brum" (mountain) in Balti, hence it actually means "beautiful mountain."

Gasherbrum I was designated K5 (meaning the 5th peak of the Karakoram) by T.G. Montgomerie in 1856 when he first spotted the peaks of the Karakoram from more than 200 km away during the Great Trigonometric Survey of India. In 1892, William Martin Conway provided the alternate name, Hidden Peak, in reference to its extreme remoteness.

Gasherbrum I was first climbed on July 5, 1958 by Pete Schoening and Andy Kauffman of an eight-man American expedition led by Nicholas B. Clinch, Richard K. Irvin, Tom Nevison, Tom McCormack, Bob Swift and Gil Roberts were also members of the team.

Gilgit

Gilgit (Shina: گلیت, Urdu: گلگت), is the capital city of the Gilgit-Baltistan region, an administrative territory of Pakistan. The city is located in a broad valley near the confluence of the Gilgit River and Hunza River. Gilgit is a major tourist destination in Pakistan, and serves as a hub for mountaineering expeditions in the Karakoram Range. It was an important stop on the ancient Silk Road, and today serves as a major junction along the Karakoram Highway with road connections to China, Skardu, Chitral, Peshawar, and Islamabad.

Hume's short-toed lark

Hume's short-toed lark (Calandrella acutirostris) is a species of lark in the family Alaudidae.

It is found in south-central Asia from Iran and Kazakhstan to China.

K2

K2 (Urdu: کے ٹو‎, Kai Ṭū), also known as Mount Godwin-Austen or Chhogori (Balti and Urdu: چھوغوری‎, Chinese: 乔戈里峰), at 8,611 metres (28,251 ft) above sea level, is the second highest mountain in the world, after Mount Everest at 8,848 metres (29,029 ft). It is located on the China–Pakistan border between Baltistan in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of northern Pakistan, and the Taxkorgan Tajik Autonomous County of Xinjiang, China. K2 is the highest point of the Karakoram range and the highest point in both Pakistan and Xinjiang.

K2 is known as the Savage Mountain due to the extreme difficulty of ascent. It has the second-highest fatality rate among the eight-thousanders, with around 300 successful summits and 77 fatalities; about one person dies on the mountain for every four who reach the summit. It is more difficult and hazardous to reach the peak of K2 from the Chinese side, so it is usually climbed from the Pakistani side. K2 has never been climbed during winter, unlike Annapurna, the mountain with the highest fatality-to-summit rate (191 summits and 61 fatalities), or the other eight-thousanders. Ascents have almost always been made in July and August, the warmest times of year; K2's more northern location makes it more susceptible to inclement and colder weather.The summit was reached for the first time by the Italian climbers Lino Lacedelli and Achille Compagnoni, on the 1954 Italian Karakoram expedition led by Ardito Desio.

Karakoram Express

Karakoram Express (Urdu: قراقرم ایکسپریس‎) is a passenger train operated daily by Pakistan Railways between Karachi and Lahore. The trip takes approximately 17 hours and 45 minutes to cover a published distance of 1,241 kilometres (771 mi), traveling along a stretch of the Karachi–Peshawar Railway Line, Khanewal–Wazirabad Branch Line and Shahdara Bagh–Sangla Hill Branch Line. The train is named after the famous Karakoram mountain range of northern Pakistan.

Karakoram Highway

The Karakoram Highway (Urdu: شاہراہ قراقرم‎, known by its initials KKH, also known as N-35 or National Highway 35 (Urdu: قومی شاہراہ 35‎), or the China-Pakistan Friendship Highway) is a 1,300-kilometre (810 mi) national highway which extends from Hasan Abdal in the Punjab province of Pakistan to the Khunjerab Pass in Gilgit-Baltistan, where it crosses into China and becomes China National Highway 314. The highway connects the Pakistani provinces of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa plus Gilgit-Baltistan with China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. The highway is a popular tourist attraction, and is one of the highest paved roads in the world, passing through the Karakoram mountain range, at 36°51′00″N 75°25′40″E at maximum elevation of 4,714 metres (15,466 ft) near Khunjerab pass. Due to its high elevation and the difficult conditions in which it was constructed, it is often referred to as the Eighth Wonder of the World. The highway is also a part of the Asian Highway AH4.

Karakoram Pass

The Karakoram Pass (Hindi: क़राक़रम दर्रा; Chinese: 喀喇昆仑山口) is a 5,540 m or 18,176 ft mountain pass between India and China in the Karakoram Range. It is the highest pass on the ancient caravan route between Leh in Ladakh and Yarkand in the Tarim Basin. 'Karakoram' literally means 'Black Gravel' in Turkic.Historically, the high altitude of the pass and the lack of fodder were responsible for the deaths of countless pack animals while the route was notorious for the trail of bones strewn along the way. There is an almost total absence of vegetation on the approaches to the pass.Travelling south from the pass involved three days' march across the barren Depsang Plains at about 5,300 m (17,400 ft). To the north, the country was somewhat less desolate and involved travellers crossing the relatively easy and lower Suget Dawan (or Suget Pass) before reaching the lush grazing grounds around Shahidullah or Xaidulla in the upper valley of the Karakash River.

The pass is in a saddle between two mountains and about 45 metres (148 ft) wide. There is no vegetation or icecap and it is generally free of snow due to the winds. Temperatures are low, there are often very high winds, blizzards are frequent, and the extreme altitude often took its toll. In spite of all this, the Karakoram Pass was considered a relatively easy pass due to the gradual ascent on both sides, and lack of summer snow and ice much of the year. Consequently, the pass was open throughout most of the year. There is no motorable road across the pass, and the pass currently remains closed to all traffic.

List of highest mountains on Earth

There are at least 109 mountains on Earth with elevations greater than 7,200 metres (23,622 ft) above sea level. The vast majority of these mountains are located on the edge of the Indian and Eurasian continental plates. Only those summits are included that, by an objective measure, may be considered individual mountains as opposed to subsidiary peaks.

List of mountains in Pakistan

Pakistan is home to 108 peaks above 7,000 metres. [1] and probably as many peaks above 6,000 m. There is no count of the peaks above 5,000 and 4,000 m. Five of the 14 highest independent peaks in the world (the eight-thousanders) are in Pakistan (four of which lie in the surroundings of Concordia; the confluence of Baltoro Glacier and Godwin Austen Glacier). Most of the highest peaks in Pakistan lie in the Karakoram mountain range (which lies almost entirely in the Gilgit–Baltistan region of Pakistan, and is considered to be a part of the greater Himalayan range) but some peaks above 7,000 m are included in the Himalayan and Hindu Kush ranges.

Northern Light Infantry

The Northern Light Infantry (reporting name: NLI) is a light infantry regiment in the Pakistan Army, based and currently headquartered in Gilgit, the capital of Gilgit–Baltistan. Along with many unified armed forces presence in the Northern Areas, the NLI has the primary ground operations responsibility of protecting the strategically important northern areas of Pakistan. Northern Light Infantry is also known to assist the Afghan Mujahaddin.

Saltoro Kangri

Saltoro Kangri is the highest peak of the Saltoro Mountains, also known as the Saltoro Range, which is a part of the Karakoram. It is the 31st highest mountain in the world, but it is in a very remote location deep in the Karakoram. It is located on the Actual Ground Position Line between Indian controlled territory in the Siachen region and Pakistani-controlled territory west of the Saltoro Range. It is currently controlled by India.

Saltoro Mountains

The Saltoro Mountains (Hindi: सालतोरो) (Urdu: سلسلہ کوہ سالتورو‎) are a subrange of the Karakoram Range. They are located in the heart of the Karakoram, on the southwest side of the Siachen Glacier, one of the two longest glaciers outside the polar regions. The name given to this range is shared with the Saltoro Valley which is located to the west of this range, downslope on the Pakistan side of the Actual Ground Position Line.

The Saltoro Mountains are part of the Lesser Karakorams on the southern and western side of the large Karakoram-glaciers (Siachen, Baltoro, Biafo and Hispar Glacier from east to west) while the main ridge of the Karakorams lies north resp. east of these glaciers. The subranges of the main ridges are called Muztagh whereas the mountain groups of the Lesser Karakorams are denominated as Mountains, Ranges or Groups.They are claimed as part of Jammu and Kashmir by India and as part of Gilgit–Baltistan by Pakistan. Between 1984 and 1987, India assumed military control of the main peaks and passes of the range, with Pakistani forces holding the glacial valleys just to the west. Hence, despite high peaks and dramatic climbing opportunities, they are little visited except by military forces due to the ongoing Siachen Conflict.

On the southwest side, the Saltoro Mountains drop steeply to the valleys of the Kondus and Dansam Rivers, which join to form the Saltoro River, a tributary of the Shyok River. This in turn flows into the Indus River. To the northwest, the Kondus Glacier separates the range from the neighboring Masherbrum Mountains, while on the southeast, the Gyong River, Glacier, and Pass (Gyong La) separate the northern Saltoro Mountains from the southern Saltoro Mountains or "Kailas Mountains" (not to be confused with Tibet's sacred Mount Kailash).

Sasser Pass

Saser Pass, Saser La, or Sasser Pass (el. 5,411 m or 17,753 ft) is a high mountain pass in Ladakh and India on the ancient summer caravan route from Leh in Ladakh to Yarkand in the Tarim Basin. It leads from the head of the Nubra Valley into the upper Shyok valley, on the way to the even higher, but easier, Karakoram Pass.

Siachen Glacier

The Siachen Glacier is a glacier located in the eastern Karakoram range in the Himalayas at about 35.421226°N 77.109540°E / 35.421226; 77.109540, just northeast of the point NJ9842 where the Line of Control between India and Pakistan ends. At 76 km (47 mi) long, it is the longest glacier in the Karakoram and second-longest in the world's non-polar areas. It falls from an altitude of 5,753 m (18,875 ft) above sea level at its head at Indira Col on the China border down to 3,620 m (11,875 ft) at its terminus. The entire Siachen Glacier, with all major passes, is currently under the administration of India since 1984. Pakistan controls the region west of Saltoro Ridge, far away from the glacier, with Pakistani posts located 3,000 ft below more than 100 Indian posts on Saltoro Ridge.The Siachen Glacier lies immediately south of the great drainage divide that separates the Eurasian Plate from the Indian subcontinent in the extensively glaciated portion of the Karakoram sometimes called the "Third Pole". The glacier lies between the Saltoro Ridge immediately to the west and the main Karakoram range to the east. The Saltoro Ridge originates in the north from the Sia Kangri peak on the China border in the Karakoram range. The crest of the Saltoro Ridge's altitudes range from 5,450 to 7,720 m (17,880 to 25,330 feet). The major passes on this ridge are, from north to south, Sia La at 5,589 m (18,336 ft), Bilafond La at 5,450 m (17,880 ft), and Gyong La at 5,689 m (18,665 ft). The average winter snowfall is more than 1000 cm (35 ft) and temperatures can dip to −50 °C (−58 °F). Including all tributary glaciers, the Siachen Glacier system covers about 700 km2 (270 sq mi).

Sino-Indian border dispute

Sovereignty over two separated pieces of territory have been contested between China and India. Aksai Chin is located either in the Indian province of Jammu and Kashmir or the Chinese province of Xinjiang and forms part of the Kashmir conflict. It is a virtually uninhabited high-altitude wasteland crossed by the Xinjiang-Tibet Highway. The other disputed territory lies south of the McMahon Line. It was formerly referred to as the North East Frontier Agency, and is now called Arunachal Pradesh. The McMahon Line was part of the 1914 Simla Convention between British India and Tibet, an agreement rejected by China.The 1962 Sino-Indian War was fought in both of these areas. An agreement to resolve the dispute was concluded in 1996, including "confidence-building measures" and a mutually agreed Line of Actual Control. In 2006, the Chinese ambassador to India claimed that all of Arunachal Pradesh is Chinese territory amidst a military buildup. At the time, both countries claimed incursions as much as a kilometre at the northern tip of Sikkim. In 2009, India announced it would deploy additional military forces along the border. In 2014, India proposed China should acknowledge a "One India" policy to resolve the border dispute.

Trans-Karakoram Tract

The Trans-Karakoram Tract (Chinese: 喀喇昆仑走廊; pinyin: Kālǎkūnlún zǒuláng, Hindi: शक्सगाम, Urdu: شکسگام‎); also known as Shaksgam or the Shaksgam Tract, is an area of more than 2,700 sq mi (6,993 km2) north of the Karakoram, including the Shaksgam valley and Raskam (Yarkand river valley). The tract is administered by the People's Republic of China as a part of Kargilik County and Taxkorgan Tajik Autonomous County in the Kashgar Prefecture of Xinjiang Autonomous Region, but it was regarded by Pakistan as part of Kashmir until 1963. It is claimed by India as part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Most of the tract is composed of the Shaksgam Valley and was formerly administered as part of Shigar, a district (formerly a tehsil) in the Baltistan region. A polo ground in Shaksgam was built by the Amacha Royal family of Shigar, and the Rajas of Shigar used to invite the Amirs of Hotan to play polo there. Most of the names of the mountains, lakes, rivers and passes are in Balti/Ladakhi, suggesting that this land had been part of Baltistan/Ladakh region for a long time. The Raja of Shigar controlled most of this land until 1971, when Pakistan abolished the Raja government system.The tract is one of the most inhospitable areas of the world, with some of the highest mountains. Bounded by the Kun Lun Mountains in the north, and the Karakoram peaks to the south, including Broad Peak, K2 and Gasherbrum, on the southeast it is adjacent to the highest battlefield in the world on the Siachen Glacier region which is controlled by India.

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