GILGIT: For an outsider, this could be a matter of life and death. And why it shouldn’t it be so. Walking over a 30 to 70 ft deep frozen lake that too in the biting cold of January is a risky business after all. An ice sheath can succumb to the weight anytime.
HunzaNews Jan 10 2014
But it’s a routine business in Gupis valley of Gilgit – Baltistan [G-B]. The children dancing and running in the picture is where exists the lake called Khalti Lake. At 7000 ft, it is situated in Gupis valley of district Ghizer, about 120 kilometers from Gilgit.
“This is mind boggling, how the children fearless play on the surface,” Abdul Rehman Bukhari, a resident of Gilgit who just return after visiting the lake on Friday.
“I saw the lake which had just frozen entirely and the sight was awe-inspiring,” he told The Express Tribune on Saturday. “The people were flirting with danger on ice.”
Though Khalti Lake looks more of Switzerland’s Lac de Joux Lake, it lags far behind when it comes to attracting tourism. Lac de Joux lake at Le Pont in the Jura region in western Switzerland becomes a popular spot during winter. The lake, when completely frozen, is among the largest natural ice rinks of Europe and is a popular spot during the winter months for skating.
Switzerland’s Lac de Joux Lake
“Yes its dangerous but ecstasy overshadows the fears of life,” Munawar Khan, a resident of Ghizer said of Khalti lake that also is sources of fresh water in summer.
A football tournament featuring local players is also played annually on the lake during winters when temperature plummets 10 to 15 degree Celsius below freezing point.
This can be a major attraction for tourists especially foreigners if proper measures are taken. But right now the crippling cold coupled with absence of facility in Gilgit – Baltistan [G-B] keep the tourists away during the winters from this mountainous region, depriving the region of revenue.
Glaciers in Pakistan constitute the biggest mass and collection of glaciated ice found anywhere in the world outside the North and South Polar regions. These glaciers are heavily concentrated in the three great mountain ranges of Karakoram, Himalaya and Hindukush, situated in G-B and Chitral.
Interestingly the junction point of the three mightiest mountain ranges is in Gilgit.
According to ICIMOD, Pakistan is home to around 5218 glaciers with a total area of 15040 sq km and in addition around 2420 glacial lakes are also identified and mapped in Pakistan. Karakorum Range has the greatest share in hosting much of the glaciated ice where almost 37% of the region is under the glaciers.
Karakoram is also home to world third longest Biafo glacier (63 kilometers), which meets the Hispar glacier at the famous snow lake at the height of 5,128 m, creating the longest glaciated highway (100 KM) in the world from G-B’s Askole in Shigar valley to Hispar in Nagar Valley.
The other famous glaciers in G-B include Baltoro (62 kilometres), Batura (58 kilometres) Hispar (53 kilometres). Baltoro glacier forms the ice highway en-route to four of the 8000 meters peaks including K-2, the world second highest peak.