Thursday, 28 May 2015

Climate and trekking seasons.

  Pakistan is dry country. A quarter of the country has less than 120 millimeter of rain per year, and over three-quarter it has less than 250millimetres. Only seven percent of the land, mostly in the narrow belt of the Punjab from Lahore to Islamabad, and on the mountain slopes of north Islamabad does the rains fall exceed to 500 millimetres per year. These are the only areas reached by the monsoons, which blows across the northern Punjab from India causing heavy summer heavy storms from mid-July to mid-September. Further north, the high mountains block the all, but the most determined clouds, so relatively little rains fall in the main trekking areas in the North.
                     The Swat and kaghan valleys and the southern side of Nanga Parbat are just inside the mountain belt, but upper Chitral, Gilgit, Hunza and upper Indus valley are all far enough North offer mostly sunny weather all through the summer. In this region, precipitations come mostly in the form of snow from mid-November to mid-March.
                     July is the hottest month with mid-day temperature come mostly in the 40° C range in most places, Islamabad and Rawalpindi which is you transit on your way north, can be extremely hot and humid sometimes the temperature reaches to 50° C . Naturally it is cooler at the higher altitude but it can still be very hot in summer along the dry northern valleys of the Indus and Gligit rivers, where the heat radiates out of the bare mountains. Getting out the main valleys up to the summer pastures is the only way to escape the heat.  
                   Above 2500 meters, it is usually pleasant during the day and cool at night. But at such altitudes, the sun is deceptive. With the less humid atmosphere and no pollution to protect you, the rays of the sun are powerful indeed, and on the reflecting surface of glaciers both skin and eyes must be protected. When the sun goes down, the thin atmosphere fails to retain the heat of the land, and the temperature plummets to near freezing (or below freezing at heights of above 4500 meters). This large temperature difference requires an equally large range of clothing, from light cotton to winter thermals. Lower Chitral( Hindukush) and the Himalayan foothills are further south and closer to the monsoon belt, making them wetter and so less given to extremes temperature.
                   The time of the year you trek is dictated by how high you plan to go. The weather is hospitable between mid-March and mid-November and walks in the main valleys during spring and autumn are the end of the March, the apricot trees are in flowers, and the villages are carpeted in pink and white. In October, the poplars and birchs change colours and paint the valleys in myriad red oranges and brown. However, the mountain pastures are under the snow until the end of the June, as some of the high passes until mid or late August (the permanent snow line is at about 5000 meters). By the end of the September, the weather is becoming cold again, and first snowfall usually comes at the start of October. The peak of the season in the month of August and almost all trekking take place between mid-July and mid-September. 


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