image_caption=Baltoro glacier in the central Karakorum with 8000ers Gasherbrum I & II.
country=Pakistan| country1=China | country2=India
region1=Ladakh | region2=Baltistan
border=Himalaya| border1=Pamir Mountains| border2=Hindu Raj
geology= | period= | orogeny=

map_caption=Highest Karakoram peaks as seen from International Space Station

Karakoram is a mountain range spanning the borders between Pakistan, China, and India, located in the regions of Gilgit, Ladakh, and Baltistan. It is one of the Greater Ranges of Asia, often considered together with the Himalaya, but not technically part of that range.

The Karakoram is home to more than sixty peaks above 7,000m (22,960 ft), including K2, the second highest peak of the world (8,611 m, 28,251 ft). K2 is just 237 m smaller than the 8,848 m tall Mount Everest. The range is about 500 km (300 mi) in length, and is the most heavily glaciated part of the world outside of the polar regions. The Siachen Glacier at 70 km and the Biafo Glacier at 63 km rank as the world's second and third longest glaciers outside the polar regions. Tajikistan's Fedchenko Glacier is 77 km long. Baltoro and Batura Glaciers in the Karakoram are 57 km 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

The Karakoram is bounded on the northeast by the edge of the Tibetan Plateau, and on the north by the Wakhan Corridor and the Pamir Mountains. Just to the west of the northwest end of the Karakoram lies the Hindu Raj range, beyond which is the Hindu Kush range. The southern boundary of the Karakoram is formed by the Gilgit, Indus, and Shyok Rivers, which separate the range from the northwestern end of the Himalaya range proper.

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.

The Muztagh Pass was crossed in 1887 by the expedition of Colonel Francis Younghusband and the valleys above the Hunza River were explored by George Cockerill in 1892. Explorations in the 1910s and 1920s established most of the geography of the region.

Marcel Ichac made a film entitled "Karakoram", chronicling a French expedition to the range in 1936. The film won the Silver Lion at the Venice film festival of 1937.

A portion of the Karakoram, disputed between India and China, has been re-created as a scale model by the Chinese government. [http://bbs.keyhole.com/ubb/showthreaded.php/Cat/0/Number/510687/page/vc/vc/1 Google Earth Community: China - Huangyangtan - Scale model of landscape? ] ] http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/07/19/huangyangtan_mystery/] [http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/story?id=2266192&page=1 ABC News: Google Geek Unearths Military Secret ] ]

Geological importance

The Karakoram and the Himalayas are important to Earth scientists for several reasons. They are one of the world's most geologically active areas, at the boundary between two colliding continents. Therefore, they are important in the study of plate tectonics. Mountain glaciers may serve as an indicator of climate change, advancing and receding with long-term changes in temperature and precipitation. These extensive ranges may have even caused climate change when they were formed over 40 million years ago. The large amounts of rock exposed to the atmosphere are weathered (broken down) by carbon dioxide. This process removes the greenhouse gas from the atmosphere, and could have caused the global climate to cool, triggering an ongoing series of ice ages.

Highest peaks

Most of the highest of Karakoram peaks are in the Northern Areas of Pakistan. Notable peaks are:
* K2 (Qogir Feng) (8,611 m)
* Gasherbrum I (8,068 m)
* Broad Peak (Phalchen Kangri) (8,047 m)
* Gasherbrum II (8,035 m)
* Gasherbrum III (7,952 m)
* Gasherbrum IV (7,925 m)
* Distaghil Sar (7,885 m)
* Kunyang Chhish (7,852 m)
* Masherbrum I (7,821 m)
* Batura I (7,795 m)
* Rakaposhi (7,788 m)
* Batura II (7,762 m)
* Kanjut Sar (7,760 m)
* Saltoro Kangri (7,742 m)
* Batura III (7,729 m)
* Saser Kangri (7,672 m)
* Chogolisa (7,665m)
* Haramosh Peak (7,397 m)
* Baintha Brakk (7,285 m)
* Muztagh Tower (7,273 m)

The majority of the highest peaks are either in the Baltistan or Ladakh regions. Baltistan has more than 100 mountain peaks exceeding 6,100 metres (20,000 ft) height from sea level.


The naming and division of the various subranges of the Karakoram is not universally agreed upon. However, the following is a list of the most important subranges, following Jerzy Wala. [Jerzy Wala, "Orographical Sketch Map of the Karakoram", Swiss Foundation for Alpine Research, Zurich, 1990.] The ranges are listed roughly west to east.

* Batura Muztagh
* Rakaposhi-Haramosh Mountains
* Spantik-Sosbun Mountains
* Hispar Muztagh
* South Ghujerab Mountains
* Panmah Muztagh
* Wesm Mountains
* Masherbrum Mountains
* Baltoro Muztagh
* Saltoro Mountains
* Siachen Muztagh
* Rimo Muztagh
* Saser Muztagh

ee also

* Northern Areas of Pakistan
* Karakoram Highway
* Khunjerab Pass (the highest paved international border crossing at 4,693m)
* Geography of China
* Mountain ranges of Pakistan
* List of mountains in Pakistan
* List of mountain ranges of the world
* List of highest mountains (a list of mountains above 7,200m)
* Khardung La
* Karakoram Pass
* Mount Imeon



* 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).
* Mortenson, Greg and Relin, David Oliver. 2008. "Three Cups of Tea". Penguin Books Ltd. ISBN 978-0141034263 (pbk); Viking Books ISBN 978-0670034826 (hbk); Tantor Media ISBN 978-1400152513 (MP3 CD).

External links

* [http://blankonthemap.free.fr/default.htm Blankonthemap] The Northern Kashmir Website
* [http://www.himalaya-info.org/ Comprehensive Information about the mountains of Himalaya and Karakoram with links to good images]
* [http://www.travel-culture.com/pakistan/ Pakistan Travel Information]
* [http://travel.web.pk/destinations/mountains_valleys/karakorum_highway.asp Travel Web: The Karakoram Highway]
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/1491179.stm Pakistan's Northern Areas dilemma]
* [http://www.karakorams.com/ Karakorams]

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