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Blankonthemap INFO N°36 - Travelling -
29 november 2009



After John Silverter and Philippe Nodet, Romain Bremont and Demain Hall open Pakistan North country by the airs!

You know it's Blankonthemap is interresting by paragliding or rather the free flight performed by madmen paragliders. Led by Philippe Nodet and John Silverster, the most exciting travel book were told on this web site. In an exciting meeting with Philippe, we recognized the same vision of romantic travel, with a paraglider for him, whith my feets for me. We had flight projects in Tajikistan duo, Philippe have gone too soon ... This is not without passion or emotion that pages on the free flight are written on this site and I know that Philippe emulate passions as Roman and Demain.

What Roman and Demain have done in summer 2009 is definitely the work of inpassionates adventureres who risk their lives to more than 6000 meters of altitude. Paragliding in Northern Kashmir is never trivial. Scrapping heavens to rather see the land of unparalleled beauty, that's what they did with a great authenticity.

Let them speaking to Romain Bremont, paragliding instructor and Demain Hall, Scottish, computerer (both living in Granada):

Romain Bremont & Demain Hall

[BOTM] Could you introduce yourself?
Romain Bremont is a paragliding instructor, and Demian Hall is a programmer. We both live in Granada (Spain) and share a passion for free flight in the mountains and travel. We dreamed of flying in the high mountains of northern Pakistan for many years and finally decided to prepare a 6 week trip flying in the Himalaya, Karakorum and Hindu Kush ranges.

[BOTM] Why this dream ?

The mountains are some of the biggest and most impressive on the planet. The possibilities for free-flight are incredible and the locals are friendly. It seemed like it had all of the ingredients for a good adventure.

[BOTM] What was your way?

We started in Muzafarabad (Kashmir) with the idea of flying to the Karakorum via the Kaghan valley and Babusar pass. The weather, however, had other plans and we were forced to take a bus along the KKH to Karimabad. We stayed in Karimabad for 2 weeks waiting for good conditions. When they finally arrived, we flew across to Buni. We spent some time there and had some great flights near Tirich Mir and across to Chitral. From Buni we flew to Phander (Ghizer valley) and spent some time exploring the ajoining Yaseen and Ischkomen valleys in bivouac. The conditions in the Ghizer valley were excellent for paragliding and we managed plenty 100km+ flights.
To end the journey, we travelled to Skardu and made an amazing out and return bivouac trip to Askole, flying above the enormous Biafo glacier amongst others.

[BOTM] You've flown in many countries around the world, could you describe the peculiarities of a flight in the Northern Pakistan?
The conditions in the high mountains are fantastic. There are few places in the world where you can fly at nearly 7000m. Flying at these altitudes can lead to hypoxia, but above all it is the cold that you have to battle. The huge variations in altitude is something that paraglider pilots don't usually have to think about. It is not uncommon to take-off at 3500m and climb to 6500m in 10 minutes. It is well worth being acclimatised and phsically prepared for the flights. We chose to use oxygen, and used it above about 5800m.
Overall the meteorogical conditions are quite easy to understand. There is often very little meteo wind, and no valley breeze. Generally the mountains work just how you are taught in school, with well organised thermals puffing off the rocky faces that are facing into the sun. In Phander there were already good conditions on the SE faces at 9am!

[BOTM] Among the areas of Chitral Ghizar, Muzaffarabad where you publish valuable files on your website (, which ones are the most impressive?

For me, the Ghizer valley provided us with the best flying. It's situation between the Karakorum, Hindu Kush and Himalaya gives it enormous potential for big flights. In our experience, this was also where there were the most good flying days (at the time of year we visited). Nanga Parbat was almost always over-developed, and Hunza was too stable. There is not much tourism in this area, but the locals are very friendly.

[BOTM] Did you have specific fears, stories to tell us?
Once I experienced hypoxia when the batteries ran out on the oxygen control unit! You have to be careful of cable near the villages - I nearly landed in a canal after avoiding an unseen cable at the last moment. We were often asked questions by confused policemen at ckeckpoints; it was quite hard for them to grasp that we were coming out of a closed valley without having passed through the checkpoint previously! We had so many good experiences, but one of the highlights must surely be the night we spent with the shepherds at 4000m.

[BOTM] You say " A land to discover people" : Why is it so importante for you ?
It would be a shame to travel 8000 km without getting to know some of the locals. The paraglider is a great mode of transport that allows you to access remote and beautiful areas. On top of this, you often don't know exactly where you are going to land. This creates huge opportunies to meet and interact with the local people. They are almost always extremely friendly and helpful - which is lucky, because you are really at their mercy. I stayed in the houses of many different people. They always made me feel very welcome. The shepherds in the mountains prepared us hot milk, butter and chapatis - followed by a vegetarian goat stew! - all of this in their shack at 4000m with direct views to the north face of 7800m Rakapochi.

[BOTM] what about hardware ?
You must have warm clothes! A good down jacket, down mitts, thermal trousers, thermal top, ski pants, gaiters and a neoprene mask are all esential. Oxygen increases your safety and reduces anxiety about hypoxia, which in turn allows you to concentrate on flying. The down side if the extra weight - which is also an important factor because walking at 3000m with a 20 kg bag is very tiring! For the bivouacs we slept in our clothes. I replaced the protection in my harness with a thermarest and we always flew with food, water, first aid kit, ripstop nylon sheets to make a shelter and water purification tablets.

Thanks and good luck for future troips in Northern Kashmir.

(All pictures copyright

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With a beautiful generosity, Romain and Demain leave us their precious references:

© Blankonthemap 2009 - Nov 2009




Northern Kashmir is an isolated and contrasted area, deserted and arctic, largely admired and always jealoused on. This site is an invitation through time and one of the most beautiful mountain areas, to dream, one might want to dream of the last unknown soil of the world. If this could be of use to you for any details or future expeditions to Kashmir, it would be my greates award and please feel free to contact me on this subject.

Have a good trip !

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