K2 PHOTO EXPEDITION 2021

the most extraordinary photo expedition in the world

Understand the mountain

Seeing something is not equal to understanding it. Our three-week journey to the Karakoram will give you a unique chance to spend some one-on-one time with the world’s most stunning peaks. We have four rest days planned on our way so we can relax and have some time do develop a stronger bond with surrounding environment.

Discover the life of Karakoram porters

During the expedition we will have a chance of getting to know with local people, Balti culture, traditional songs, dances and food (the last one might be a bit challenging tho). We will get a broader perspective on everyday work of Karakoram porters – people who made the world’s most impressive ascents possible for other climbers.

Learn the art of seeing

I will show you my way of looking at mountain landscapes and presenting it through the camera’s eye. It will be a good starting point on the way to develop your own perceptual skills. Everyday evening discussions about photography will give us space to share our thoughts and ideas.

THE IDEA

The Karakoram has been my dream for years. Reading about Polish expeditions in this region, we always had the impression that it was such a monumental and unattainable place, surrounded by an aura of mysticism. I imagined myself sitting in a dilapidated Nysa 501 (archaic Polish car – for reference visit this LINK), traversing the route from Warsaw to Skardu for weeks (currently, Google Maps shows 94 hours by car). Through the eyes of imagination I saw beautiful, majestic towers of Trango Towers, a luminous wall of Gasherbrum IV or K2, which was later deservedly nicknamed “Killer Mountain”.

Despite being less popular, the Karakoram outshines the Greater Himalayas with its beauty and variety of stone wall shapes. Photographically, it is one of the most wonderful places on Earth, and at the same time so inaccessible that few photographers dare to travel to these areas. I decided to organise a trip to this photographic paradise in 2019, making my dream come true. Now, I cannot imagine myself not coming back in 2021.

If you would like to join – be welcome!

I will be glad to share my Karakoram experience with you and help you develop your own way of seeing through the lens. Your participation will help me cover my own travel costs and, depending on the number of participants, large format prints for exhibition or even a publication of the photo album. In exchange for your support, apart from a photo tuition and a great time in the Karakoram, I’ll prepare either the limited edition large format print for you or send you the signed copy of the album.

EXPEDITION HIGHLIGHTS

  • We will walk one of the greatest trekking routes in the world. We will pass one of the most spectacular rock formations in the world – Trango Towers and the Cathedral Group, Gasherbrum IV’s Luminous Wall, the imposing Masherbrum and Muztagh peaks, the mighty Broad Peak ridge, finally reaching K2 Base Camp. For dessert, we recommend the soaring Laila Peak (in order not to extend the description, I do not mention Uli Biaho, Bakhordas, Paiju, Marble Peak and Mitre Peak, etc.);

  • We will get to the Gondogoro Pass at 5,585 meters above sea level, from which you will be able to photograph the sunrise overlooking the highest peaks of the Karakoram (climbing skills are not required);

  • We will cross the rushing glacial river (optional offer, with an additional extension of a glacier gutter slide – i.e. bobsleigh without sleigh);

  • We will eat “traditional” Pakistani pizza while marveling at K2 view;

  • When visiting K2 Base Camp, we will see a memorial dedicated to the climbers who died in the Karakoram and the Himalayas;

  • I will show you my way of photographing mountain landscapes and help you reach the full capabilities of your photo equipment. I will share my experience concerning composition and scene exposure, as well as advanced techniques – long exposure photography and exposure blending;

  • I will show you how to organise photo expeditions (logistics, planning, preparation in terms of equipment, getting use of weather conditions);

  • Depending on the number of participants, you will receive the 60×90 cm limited edition Fine Art print or the copy of photo album with my images from the Karakoram.

  • Each participant will also receive high quality expedition t-shirt designed by Piotr Kowalczyk

EXPEDITION LEADER

 

About Tom Przychodzień

If you can spell my surname correctly, most probably you’re also capable of climbing K2 in winter 🙂 I have lived a life of landscape photographer for over 15 years. I gathered my photographic experience in over 30 countries. I’m a member of Photographic Society of America and Federation Internationale de l’Art Photographique (FIAP). Over 300 of my photographs were exhibited worldwide and awarded in major photo competitions. To name a few: Monovisions, National Geographic Grand Photo Competition, J. Sunderland’s “Mountain Landscape” Print, HIPA. I’m currently focusing on mastering the art of photography printing and exploring winter swimming.

If you would like to find out more about me, visit my website.

Photographic vision

I seek light and shade mainly in mountainous areas. I often photograph in difficult weather conditions, far away from civilization. Each night spent several thousand meters above sea level brings new experiences that I try to transfer to photosensitive material. It took me a long time to understand that the place where the photo was taken is irrelevant to me. It is not an art to travel around the world to duplicate Instagram frames during a short photo trips. I focus on visualising my way of receiving phenomena and personal experiences. Quality of light, contrasts, searching for a ‘spirit of the mountains’ – regardless of place. That’s what matters to me.

WHAT TO EXPECT

 

There are no such words that could describe the Karakoram. Even the best images will never do justice to the beauty of those magnificent peaks. But lets give it a shot. Here are some examples of what’s waiting for us in the Karakoram.

K2 Photographic Expedition 2019

In 2019 I visited the Karakoram for the first time, with a group of invited participants. Thanks to the support of the Pakistani travel agency, the whole thing went unexpectedly smoothly. Many permits are required to organise trekking, such as group registration at the Ministry of the Interior, the local police station, National Park etc. The formalities were taken care of perfectly and without any delays.

A team of 30 (!) consisting of a guide, chief porter, porters, a cook and his 2 assistants was appointed to look after our 6-person group. This provided full comfort and the opportunity to focus on taking photos. After reaching the next camps, the tents were usually waiting for us with prepared meals and warm water ready to be used in the “showers”. Apart from a place to sleep, we had a mess tent in which we ate together and discussed the current action plan everyday. We were provided with three meals a day (one during the trek!). Interestingly, they were tastier than those in the hotel in Skardu (although we must admit that Pakistani cuisine did not impress us). There was even a veg option, although Pakistani people found it difficult to understand not eating meat when it was available.

110% of the trip program was adjusted to our photographic needs. Each evening, we discussed the route for the next day together, taking into account the participants’ fatigue, the photographic potential of places and weather conditions. The expedition had been planned in such a way that we had a lot of room for manoeuvre and introducing changes on a regular basis.

Contrary to other expeditions, we did not move in a compact line – when someone wanted to go faster, he got a separete team member to accompany him, and similarly – the slower participants could go at their own pace. There was also time on the route to stray from the trail and look for unique photographs. The routes of 20 km with a slight elevation did not turn out to be a great challenge – after all, we had a whole day for them and the technical difficulties were negligible. Due to the weight of the equipment, the baggage allowance carried by the porters was increased to 15 kg and it was possible to pay a small amount for excess baggage (in the end, nothing was charged for excess baggage :)). Additionally, the office provided a generator to charge phones and camera batteries each evening. There was a satellite phone available, allowing for the ongoing coverage from the trip to the country. In crisis situations (generator failure, theft of a goat;)), the office was up to the task and brought replacement ‘equipment’ from a village located 70 km from us. INSTAGRAM STORIES FROM THE 2019 EXPEDITION (LINK)

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

Expedition date: 9-29.07.2021
Price: 
£2580
Deposit: £1000 – fully refundable until 30.05.2021.

For cancellation policy and COVID rules, please see FAQ.

Bring your friend or partner and bot of you will receive 10% discount.

  • outdoor photography under the supervision of a renowned landscape photographer – winner of the National Geographic Great Photo Contest, J. Sunderland Mountain Landscape, awarded at Monovisions, Sony World Photo and many others;
  • visa costs;
  • insurance;
  • Central Karakoram National Park fees;
  • trekking permit fees;
  • briefing and debriefing at the local government institution;
  • transfer from the Islamabad airport, local transportation in Pakistan;
  • accommodation and food (full board) in cities – hotels / guesthouses (double rooms);
  • accommodation and food during trekking – 2-person tents / 3 meals per day;
  • there is a possibility of an additional payment for single occupancy;
  • mountain guide, cook with helpers, sirdar – paid according to the applicable rates + their meals and insurance in the event of bodily injury / death (for 6 people there will be approx. 30 people in the team), porters carrying 15 kg of luggage per person;
  • mess tent equipped with tables and chairs;
  • warm water for taking a shower;
  • toilet tent (on the glacier)
  • kitchen equipment, cooking utensils, fuel, etc.
  • generator for charging phones and batteries;
  • satellite phone (cost of calls is not included);
  • coordination of an evacuation action in the event of a crisis situation;
  • in case of a decision to separate from the group and return – a porter and food for the return journey.
  • flight to Pakistan and back (£400-700);
  • cost of flights Islamabad – Skardu – Islamabad (approx. £120);
  • the cost of vaccinations (we recommend hepatitis A + B, tetanus, diphtheria, polio, typhoid);
  • additional expenses in hotels (drinks, laundry, etc.);
  • costs of calls using a satellite phone (approx. £ 2.5 / min);
  • alcohol (to take with you – unavailable to buy in Pakistan!);
  • additional costs related to random events independent of the organisers: natural disasters, road blocks, demonstrations, stone avalanches, landslides, etc.;
  • tips for local staff (guides, porters, drivers) – customary, but not required (£100-200);
  • sleeping bags, hiking clothes, personal belongings;
  • expenses related to cancellation and early departure (except food and porter on the trekking route to Askole);
  • local transportation in case of withdrawal from participation in the expedition.

Everything is included in the package, apart from international transportation. I will meet you at Islamabad airport and take over from there. Booking the tickets is your responsibility, but in case you will need my support, please let me know, I can help you secure your travel to Pakistan.

We will sleep in 3-person tents accommodating 2 participants each to leave necessary space for our gear. There is an option for single occupancy with additional payment of £200. In Skardu we will be offered one of the best 3/4 star hotels. Please be aware that the room standard is much lower than European, so you should expect very basic conditions.

Let’s face it. We all don’t travel to Pakistan for great food. We will get a reasonable package offering better meals on our way to K2 than in local hotels, thanks to our private cook who has participated in high-mountain expeditions.

During the trekking, 3 meals per day will be provided – in the morning, in the middle of the route and in the evening, after reaching the camp.

Sample menu:

 

Breakfast – porridge, corn flakes, eggs (omelette, fried), paratha (local bread), muesli, jam, marmalade, nutella, tea, coffee, milk
Lunch – curry dish with rice or noodles, spaghetti plus chiapatti, sardines / canned tuna, paratha, crackers, sweet biscuits, savory biscuits, candies, dried fruit, fruit, potatoes, peas, tea, coffee, powdered drinks etc.
Dinner – a complete meal with soup, two types of curry and rice or spaghetti or noodles, meat (mutton and chicken), pizza, green beans, green peas, lentils, vegetables in a form of salad, coffee, tea. Dessert: pudding, kheer mix, fruit, jelly.

FAQ

Participation in the expedition does not require experience in dealing with high altitudes, but good (not exceptional) physical condition is essential. The planned routes are a maximum of about 8-9 hours of trekking per day – 20 km (shorter during most days), but you have to take into account the fact that we will be moving on higher altitudes than, for example, in the Dolomites, so similar treks will be more difficult. During 14 days of trekking, 4 days of rest are planned. We assume that the members of the expedition should be experienced in sleeping in a tent and be prepared for the inconveniences associated with it – every day for 2 weeks. During the trekking, you will be provided with full care – both photographic by myself and logistic by the Pakistani tour agency – in the form of a guide, sirdar, porters carrying your equipment (up to 15 kg per person), cooks and their helpers. The routes of the trekking trip in the Karakoram require familiarity with the mountains, but do not demand climbing skills. Our expedition to K2 will require from us mainly walking on a glacier (rocky ground – not ice) and passing suspension bridges over rivers.

  • sleeping bag – temperatures at night will usually range from 0 to 5 degrees C, there may be single nights slightly below 0 (0 to 5 degrees C is rather enough, but if you want to be 110% prepared, you can get a sleeping bag for -5 to -7 degrees C);
  • a sleeping mat with good insulation or a self-inflating mat (I recommend Sea to Summit, Thermarest or Klymit) + repair kit;
  • decent trekking shoes – waterproof, necessarily over the ankle (but not shells);
  • crampons;
  • harness (helmet and lanyard not required);
  • warm socks (I recommend wool);
  • trekking poles;
  • gloves;
  • a hat with neck protection;
  • good quality sunglasses (dark, but don’t have to be glacial);
  • sunscreen;
  • water treatment filter (I recommend Sawyer SP mini 128);
  • water bottles / backpack hydration system;
  • basic first aid kit – medications for stomach pain, colds, gastric problems, patches, sunburn, etc.;
  • comfortable long trekking trousers – optimally 2 pairs, one of which protects against rain;
  • shorts;
  • insulating layer – fleece / power stretch;
  • down jacket (if you feel the need at a temperature of approx. 0);
  • jacket with a membrane protecting against rain and wind (e.g. Gore Tex);
  • scarf / buff / balaclava – protecting against dust;
  • day backpack (to carry photo and tourist equipment for the day);
  • duffel bag (for other things carried by the porter – limit of 15 kg);
  • biodegradable soap;
  • headlamp (+ spare batteries);
  • comfortable shoes to use in the camp.
Photo gear:
  • a camera with interchangeable optics (if possible, a second one in case of failure);
  • lens (es) – recommended focal length range of at least 24-300mm for a full frame camera or DX equivalent;
  • filters (optional, but useful – especially ND and polarizer);
  • stable tripod –  not any cheap aluminum one from eBay costing £50;
  • spare batteries – we have a generator provided, but the generators break down too. It is worth having min. 5 batteries;
  • chargers;
  • memory cards;
  • photo backup solution.

On July nights in the Karakoram, you can expect temperatures between -5 degrees C (although very rarely, as in the last 2 years the coldest was -2 degrees C) and 5 degrees C. However, during the day it will usually be from 0 to 15 degrees C (before reaching the glacier even up to 30 degrees C). Here is how it looked like in 2018: https://bit.ly/2pE0Tl1.

If you get infected with Coronavirus or there is no possibility of getting to the Karakoram because of the cancelled flights, you will receive a full refund.

JOIN THE EXPEDITION

 

Interested in joining the 2021 expedition? Thinking of coming to K2 in 2022? Leave your email and I’ll get back to you soon!

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