Blue Sheep Hunting in Shimshal Valley

» Posted by on Jan 15, 2012 in Gilgit-Baltistan | 7,955 comments


The domain of one of the largest glaciated regions on Earth with the greatest geological upheavals steeped in the myth of spiritualism seems no way of this world.

shimshal Valley

Located not far from the Chinese border on the northern edge of the range, the inhabitants of this mystic valley still retain many of their traditional customs and rituals which are fast disappearing elsewhere in the region.

It Rocks & Shakes When You Step On It – But This Strong Foot Bridge Shows The Un-Matched Determination and Hard Work Of Shimshalis !

My client Scott Dee Headley from USA is happy after harvesting this great trophy of Blue Sheep.

Since Shimshal is the remotest and the most isolated region, the criminals sentenced to rigorous punishment by the rulers of the state used to be marooned in Shimshal Valley – only the fittest could survive and lived here. The descendants, however, are unbelievably friendly, honest and hospitable. Their disciplined life and cultured civilization bewitch and enthrall the visitors (very few) from the outer world.

Everybody Is So Happy (Except The Blue Sheep Itself) After Such An Exuberant Hunt !

Geologically, Shimshal reveals, great upheavals in its natural history. With a unique cluster of the world’s many highest peaks , creeping crevassed glaciers, massive lackostrine deposits, gigantic scree eroding mountains, greens meadows, fertile alluvial fans and stark rigid gorges; Shimshal domains the largest glaciated region on Earth outside the polar regions.

Arbab Purian Base Camp (14350 Ft) – Blue Sheep Hunt, Shimshal Valley (March 2009)

Shimshal’s extreme isolation thus imposed by the unbelievably steep gorges of the Karakoram, rise to a long standing, wholly indigenous & pure diet consisting almost entirely of apricots, wheat and Hunza Water, a locally brewed wine, & hence the long living inhabitants.

The society is co-operative rather than competitive. Each family grows enough food for its own use. As the Shimshalis lived aloof from the outer world, each citizen was self sufficient in making his own shoes, clothes & bowls, until, the perilous jeep track linked them with the world.

The walk into and across Shimshal, however, is not a task to be undertaken lightly. It’s a tough walk up and down the gorges, across rushing icy torrents, along steep narrow trails, through broken rocks, over wire-rope bridges and through many crevassed glaciers.

Our Team of 1 Hunter +20 Porters +2 Guides +2 Cooks +4 Climbers +Me Marching Towards Shimshal For Blue Sheep Hunt (March 2009) – This Hunt Costed A Little More Than Rs 2,100,000/= See we are all tied with ropes together !

One small slip on this dangerous & scary slope and you may lose your life for the rest of your life !

Shimshal is a farming & herding community of 3000 people, situated at north-eastern extreme of the former state of Hunza. The settlement occupies the upper portion of a valley of the same name, which descends west into the Hunza River valley at Passu and separates the Ghujerab and Hispar Mustagh ranges of the Karakoram mountains. Shimshal is also famous for the longevity of its people.

Within Shimshal’s territory are innumerable peaks, glaciers and trekking routes, including nine peaks above 7,000 meters. Yukshin Gardan, Yazghil Dome, Dataghil Sar, Malangutti, Karoon Koh are the famous ones.

Shimshal is rich in fauna & many threatened wildlife species are found here. It is the only place where Tibetan Wild Ass (Equus bemionus kiang), & Blue Sheep (Pseudois nayaur) are found. Snow leopard (Uncia uncia), Himalayan ibex (Capra Ibex Sibirica Hemalayanus) and, Golden Marmots (Marmota caudate) are also found in Shimshal. Migratory birds like ducks & cranes also enroute Shimshal Valley.

The people of Shimshal are cheerful & friendly. The entire population belongs to the Ismaili Shias sect headed by Prince Karim Agha Khan. The women wear bright clothes, long shirts over baggy trousers and embroided pillbox hats over which they drape their shawls, whereas, men mostly wear simple dress composed of shalwar (trouser) & kamiz (shirt) or western trousers with a hand woven wool cap.

Shimshal pastures cover about 2700 sq km of the Central Karakoram. Within that area they maintain their three dozen individual pastures, including three large and highly productive alpine areas.

Shimshal’s villages are situated on a series of glacial and alluvial deposits that form a broad strip between the river’s floodplain and steep mountain slopes to the south. These deposits have been terraced for several hundred years. They are irrigated by glacier melt water which currently dissect them. Shimshalis grow wheat & barley, potatoes, peas, beans, apricots and apples. Small quantities of garden vegetables are also grown. Shimshalis are one of the few communities in Pakistan’s Northern Areas that grows enough agricultural produce to feed itself.

Shimshalis complement their irrigated agriculture with extensive herding of sheep, goats, cattle & yaks. They own more livestock per capita than any other Hunza community & earn more by selling dairy produce, yaks and yak hair carpets. This is due, in part, to the community’s exclusive control of vast areas of high altitude land. Serving tourists as porters, guides, drivers & cooks is another source of income.

As per many popular tales of community, Shimshal was founded four centuries ago by Mamu Singh, a Burusho from Baltit (Hunza), and a member of the ruler’s family. Mamu Singh was sent to Sarikol, Central Asia, as ambassador, but later fled with his Wakhi wife Khodija, when relations with Hunza deteriorated. They were pursued into the Upper Hunza River Valley, as far as Avgarch Pasture on the slopes of Qarun Pir, where they made their home for several years before migrating into the lower reaches of the Shimshal Valley.



Muhammad Ehsan

By profession, Muhammad Ehsan is a Software Engineer, an expert in BizTalk, .NET and Business Intelligence. Along with this tough mind job, he has some very refreshing hobbies like Travelling, Trekking, and Photography.

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