People of the Karakoram Mountains

balti

The Balti people, in northeastern Pakistan, originally emigrated from Tibet hundreds of years ago. They made their new home in the Karakoram Mountains, some of the most rugged and remote mountains in the world. Trekkers and mountain climbers now travel to Baltistan to hike and climb K2, the 2nd highest mountain in the world, and the surrounding peaks.

village

Korphe is a small village on the banks of the Braldu River, which flows down the western flank of the Karakoram Mountains. The river is Korphe’s main water supply. Women and children walk 10 minutes to the river to collect water each day.

Korphe, like most villages of the Karakoram, is a subsistence farming community. The inhabitants must produce crops to feed their families, though the landscape and climate make farming difficult. The villagers travel long distances over harsh terrain to markets in larger towns to buy goods they cannot grow themselves. Most meals consist of lentil soup (like a bean soup), naan (flat bread), and rice.

During the summer, many Korphe residents travel ‘upside’ (a local term for the higher elevations) to their ‘summer village.’ Water and food are more abundant for the animals at higher elevations during the summer. In the fall, the villagers herd the animals back down to the winter village and harvest the summer gardens.

Each home consists of a large communal room with a woodstove in the middle. When a Balti woman marries, she lives with her husband and his family. Therefore, most households include children, parents, grandparents and other members of the extended family.