Northern Pakistan hosts three of the world’s biggest and most spectacular mountain ranges, the Himalaya, the Karakoram and the Hindukush. The convergence of these magnificent ranges, at the confluence of Indus and Gilgit rivers near Jaglot -a small town 40 Km south of Gilgit city-, creates a unique geographical feature.
The Karakoram range covers the borders among Pakistan, India and China, in the regions of Gilgit-Baltistan (Pakistan), Ladakh (India), and Xinjiang region, (China). The range is about 500 km (311 mile) in length, and is bounded on the northeast by the edge of the Tibetan Plateau, and on the north by 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.
The Western Himalayan range is situated in Kashmir valley and Northern Pakistan, to the south and east of Indus river, and it is dominated by Nanga Parbat massif with highest peak rising 8125 metres above sea level, Pakistan’s 2nd and world’s 9th highest peak. Nanga Parbat peak is also famous for its unique Rupal Face which rises 4,600 meters straight above its base and the mountain is considered as one of the most difficult and dangerous to climb, nick named as Killer Mountain.
The Hindukush rises South West of Pamirs. It is considered to extend from Wakhjir pass at the junctions of the Pamirs and Karakoram to Khawak pass North of Kabul. Its first region extends from Wakhjir pass separating Hunza from Wakhan. Its second region lies beyond Dorah pass in Afghanistan. The third region lies in Pakistan and extends into Swat and Kohistan areas. On the east it is separated from Karakoram by Mighty Indus river. Pakistan’s forth major mountain range, the Suleiman range, emerges in the south western region of the country, mostly covering Baluchistan Province.
In Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan the densest collection of highest and precipitous mountain peaks in the world is also found. These includes four, out of the total fourteen, above 8000 meter high peaks in the world, including the second highest mountain – the K2, 8611 m, Gasherbrum II, 8035 m, Gasherbrum I, 8080 m, Broad Peak, 8051 m and sixty peaks higher than 7,000 metres.
The majority of the highest peaks are in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan. The area is internationally renowned for mountaineering and trekking opportunities. These mountain ranges also boast more than 160 peaks above 7000 meters and 700 peaks above 6000 meters. It is also the most heavily glaciated part of the world outside the polar regions. The Siachen Glacier at 70 km and the Biafo glacier at 63 km rank as the world’s second and third longest glaciers outside the polar regions.