Snow Lake is located 16,000 feet (4,877 m) above sea level, and is approximately 10 miles (16 km) wide. The basin lies at the head of the Biafo and Hispar glaciers, which spread down from the Hispar Pass in opposite directions, forming a 61 mile (100 km) river of ice that is among the world’s longest continuous glacier systems outside of the polar regions.
Martin Conway, the first foreign visitor, gave Snow Lake the name in 1892. Conway described Snow Lake as “beyond all comparison the finest view of mountains it has ever been my lot to behold, nor do I believe the world can hold a finer.”
Snow Lake is very difficult to reach, however, and only about 200 people manage to reach it per year. In 1899, the husband-wife team of William Hunter Workman and Fanny Bullock Workman came and speculated that Snow Lake might be an ice-cap like those in the polar regions, from which glaciers flowed out in all directions, and estimated its total size at 300 square miles (116 square kilometers).
Also known as the Biafo-Hispar Trek, The Snow Lake Trek is one of Pakistan’s greatest treks. It has been rated as one of the top five treks in the world for its extreme beauty and adventurous nature. The route is formed by the Biafo and Hispar Glaciers which form the longest continuous stretch (114km) of glacier in the Karakorums. This icy highway takes trekkers deep into the mountains towards Snow Lake, the large glacial basin formed by the Lukpe La and Sim Glaciers. Snow Lake is surrounded by towering peaks and magnificent granite spires, creating what has been called some of the finest mountain scenery on the planet! Crossing Hispar La (5150m) is another one of the trek’s highlights and spending the night on the pass is an unforgettable experience.
Most groups start this trek from the village of Askole in Baltistan’s Shigar Valley and end in the village of Hispar in the Nagar Valley. Over two-thirds of the trek is on glacier, which can be very demanding, but most campsites are off the glacier in beautiful meadows with impressive views. Trekking across Snow Lake requires traveling in roped teams due to the danger of hidden crevasses, but the walking is not difficult.
Crampons are not needed, but because the route can be difficult to follow, an experienced guide is necessary. This is also one of the longest treks in Pakistan. From Gilgit to Gilgit it normally requires at least 16 days, but it is possible to do it faster depending on fitness and weather.