Said to be the 'Most Beautiful Place in the World', Snow Lake is certainly one of the most remote. This is the land of the yeti, an icy mountain wonderland, a week's trek from the nearest human habitation - itself a far-flung outpost in the mountain wilds of Baltistan. Snow Lake belies its name - it is not a lake at all but a huge ice-basin, 16 km (10 mi) wide and thought to be around 1.6 km (1 mi) thick, enclosed by the stupendous 6000 m (20000 ft) peaks of the Karakoram Mountains. It lies at the head of the Biafo and Hispar Pass to fonn the longest glacier system outside the polar regions, a massive ice highway connecting the ancient mountain kingdoms of Baltistan and Hunza.
From Skardu, capital of Baltistan, a jeep takes you on a white-knuckle ride through the Braldu Gorge where hairpin bends are too tight to take in one go and the wheels constantly threaten to slip over the edge of sheer precipice. Thrilled to be alive, you reach Askole, gateway to the highest mountains in the world - a medieval village in the middle of nowhere. Over the next fortnight, you will trek 120 km (75 mi) through an enchanted land of blue ice pinnacles, deep glacial caves, gorges, crevasses and hanging glaciers - up the Biafo Glacier to Snow Lake and across the pass to descend the Hispar Glacier into Hunza. Climbing 300 m (1,000 ft) a day, camping in remote valleys, scrambling over rocky moraine and using ropes to cross crevasses, you test your stamina to the limit - to collapse, exhausted but elated, amid the terraced orchards and lush wildfiower meadows of the Hunza Valley.
WHEN TO GO
June to September
TIME IT TAKES
21 days (10-15 spent walking)
Braldu Gorge drive.
Pinnacles of the Paiyu Mountains.
Ogre Mountain - sheer walled mountain in the Latok massif.
Night-time at Snow Lake.
View of sunrise from the Hispar Pass.
YOU SHOULD KNOW
This is an extremely challenging trek at high altitude in an exceptionally remote environment. You need to be in top physical condition with some previous experience of mountain trekking using rope and crampons.