The Karakoram, or
Karakorum 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 is located in
the regions of
Ladakh (India), and
Xinjiang (China), and reaches the Wakhan Corridor
(Afghanistan). A part of the complex of ranges from the
Hindu Kush to
the Himalayan Range, it is one of the
Greater Ranges of Asia.
Karakoram is home to the four most closely located peaks over
8000m in height on earth: K2, the second highest peak in the
world at 8,611 m (28,251 ft), Gasherbrum I,
Broad Peak and
The range is about 500 km (311 mi) in length, and is the
most heavily glaciated part of the world outside the polar regions.
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.
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 lay 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
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
UNESCO and has tentatively been
added to the list.
3 Geology and glaciers
Karakoram during the Ice Age
4 Highest peaks
7 Cultural references
8 See also
11 External links
"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 name was first
applied by local traders to the
Karakoram Pass. 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. 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.
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.
Muztagh Pass was crossed in 1887 by the expedition of Colonel
Francis Younghusband and the valleys above the
Hunza River were
explored by General Sir
George K. Cockerill
George K. Cockerill in 1892. Explorations in
the 1910s and 1920s established most of the geography of the region.
Karakoram was used in the early 20th century, for example by
Kenneth Mason, 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.
Floral surveys were carried out in the
Shyok River catchment and from
Panamik to Turtuk village by
Chandra Prakash Kala
Chandra Prakash Kala during 1999 and
Geology and glaciers
Relief map of the Karakoram
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. A significant part, 28-50% of the
is glaciated, compared to the
Himalaya (8-12%) and
Mountain glaciers may serve as an indicator of climate change,
advancing and receding with long-term changes in temperature and
Karakoram glaciers are slightly
retreating, 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
Karakoram during the Ice Age
In the last ice age, a connected series of glaciers stretched from
Tibet to Nanga Parbat, and from the
Tarim basin to the Gilgit
District. 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.
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
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.
The highest peaks of the
K2: 8,611 metres (28,251 ft)
Gasherbrum I: 8,080 metres (26,510 ft)
Broad Peak: 8,051 metres (26,414 ft)
Gasherbrum II: 8,035 metres (26,362 ft)
Gasherbrum III: 7,952 metres (26,089 ft)
Gasherbrum IV: 7,925 metres (26,001 ft)
Distaghil Sar: 7,885 metres (25,869 ft)
Kunyang Chhish: 7,852 metres (25,761 ft)
Masherbrum I: 7,821 metres (25,659 ft)
Batura I: 7,795 metres (25,574 ft)
Rakaposhi: 7,788 metres (25,551 ft)
Batura II: 7,762 metres (25,466 ft)
Kanjut Sar: 7,760 metres (25,460 ft)
Saltoro Kangri: 7,742 metres (25,400 ft)
Batura III: 7,729 metres (25,358 ft)
Saser Kangri: 7,672 metres (25,171 ft)
Chogolisa: 7,665 metres (25,148 ft)
Passu Sar: 7,478 metres (24,534 ft)
Malubiting: 7,458 metres (24,469 ft)
Sia Kangri: 7,442 metres (24,416 ft)
K12: 7,428 metres (24,370 ft)
Skil Brum: 7,410 metres (24,310 ft)
Haramosh Peak: 7,397 metres (24,268 ft)
Ultar Peak: 7,388 metres (24,239 ft)
Momhil Sar: 7,343 metres (24,091 ft)
Baintha Brakk: 7,285 metres (23,901 ft)
Baltistan Peak: 7,282 metres (23,891 ft)
Muztagh Tower: 7,273 metres (23,862 ft)
Diran: 7,266 metres (23,839 ft)
Gasherbrum V: 7,147 metres (23,448 ft)
The majority of the highest peaks are in the
of Pakistan. Baltistan has more than 100 mountain peaks exceeding
6,100 metres (20,000 ft) height from sea level.
View from the top of K2
K2: an unnamed 8,611m peak at the head of the Godwin-Austen Glacier
K3: Gasherbrum IV
K3a: Gasherbrum III
K4: Gasherbrum II
K5: Gasherbrum I
K6: Baltistan Peak
K7: an unnamed 6,934m peak at the head of the Charakusa Valley
K8: an unnamed 7,422m peak on the western flank of the Siachen Glacier
K9: an unnamed 7,000m (approx) peak near Trango Towers
Saltoro Kangri I
Saltoro Kangri II
K12: an unnamed 7,428m subsidiary peak of Saltoro Kangri
K13: Dansam 6,666m peak south west of Saltoro Kangri
Saser Kangri I
K25: Pastan Kangri 6,523m peak south of the Saltoro group
K35: Mamostong Kangri
View of the moon over
Karakoram Range in Pakistan
The naming and division of the various subranges of the
not universally agreed upon. However, the following is a list of the
most important subranges, following Jerzy Wala. The ranges are
listed roughly west to east.
South Ghujerab Mountains
Chinese and Pakistani border guards at Khunjerab Pass
From west to east
Khunjerab Pass (the highest paved international border crossing at
4,693 m (15,397 ft))
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.
Karakoram mountain range has been referred to in a number of
novels and movies.
Rudyard Kipling refers to the
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
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.
List of mountain ranges
List of mountain ranges of the world
List of highest mountains
List of highest mountains (a list of mountains above 7,200 m
^ Bessarabov, Georgy Dmitriyevich (7 February 2014). "Karakoram
Range". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 3 May 2015.
Hindu Kush Himalayan Region". ICIMOD. Retrieved 17 October
^ Voiland, Adam (2013). "The Eight-Thousanders". Nasa Earth
Observatory. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
^ BBC, Planet Earth, "Mountains", Part Three
^ 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.
^ "Karakorum-Pamir". unesco. Retrieved 16 February 2013.
^ a b c Mason, Kenneth (1928). Exploration of the Shaksgam Valley and
Aghil ranges, 1926. pp. 72ff. ISBN 9788120617940.
^ 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.
^ French, Patrick. (1994). Younghusband: The Last Great Imperial
Adventurer, pp. 53, 56-60. HarperCollinsPublishers, London. Reprint
(1995): Flamingo. London. ISBN 0-00-637601-0.
^ 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.
^ 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.
^ Searle, Michael P., Geological evolution of the
Ital.J.Geosci, (Boll.Soc.Geo.It.), Vol. 130, No. 2 (2011), pp.
147-159, 5 figs. (DOI: 10.3301/IJG.2011.08)
^ Gansser (1975). Geology of the Himalayas. London: Interscience
^ Gallessich, Gail (2011). "Debris on certain Himalayan glaciers may
prevent melting". sciencedaily.com. Retrieved January 30, 2011.
^ Muhammad, Sher. "Changes in the ablation zones of glaciers in the
Himalaya and the
Karakoram between 1972 and 2015". Remote
Sensing of Environment.
^ "Changes in the ablation zones of glaciers in the western Himalaya
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.
^ Veettil, B.K. (2012). "A Remote sensing approach for monitoring
debris-covered glaciers in the high altitude
International Journal of Geomatics and Geosciences. 2 (3):
^ 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):
^ Kuhle, M. (2006). "The Past Hunza
Glacier in Connection with a
Karakoram Ice Stream Network during the Last Ice Age
(Würm)". In Kreutzmann, H.; Saijid, A.
Karakoram in Transition.
Karachi, Pakistan: Oxford University Press. pp. 24–48.
^ 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. Quaternary Glaciation - Extent and Chronology, A
Closer Look. Amsterdam: Elsevier BV. pp. 943–965.
(glacier maps downloadable)
^ 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.
^ 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
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.
^ Jerzy Wala, Orographical Sketch Map of the Karakoram, Swiss
Foundation for Alpine Research, Zurich, 1990.
^ Tarar, Mustansar Hussain (1994). K2 kahani. Lahore: Sang-e-Meel
(published in Urdu). p. 179. ISBN 9693505239.
Curzon, George Nathaniel. 1896. The Pamirs and the Source of the Oxus.
Royal Geographical Society, London. Reprint: Elibron Classics Series,
Adamant Media Corporation. 2005. ISBN 1-4021-5983-8 (pbk);
ISBN 1-4021-3090-2 (hbk).
Karakoram in Transition: Culture, Development,
and Ecology in the Hunza Valley, Oxford, Oxford University Press,
2006. ISBN 978-0-19-547210-3
Mortenson, Greg and Relin, David Oliver. 2008. Three Cups of Tea.
Penguin Books Ltd. ISBN 978-0-14-103426-3 (pbk); Viking Books
ISBN 978-0-670-03482-6 (hbk); Tantor Media
ISBN 978-1-4001-5251-3 (MP3 CD).
Kipling, Rudyard 2002. Kim (novel); ed. by Zohreh T. Sullivan. New
York: W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 039396650X—This is the
most extensive critical modern edition with footnotes, essays, maps,
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