War at the Top of the World

Up at 5,653 m, Pakistani army Captain Ali Nazir watches the crows as they soar down from the spires of rock, gliding over the blue glacier. "I like the crows," Nazir says. He points to his soldiers clustered around a fiberglass igloo. "Aside from us, they are the only living creatures we ever see." And when the crows leave during the fierce, three-week-long winter blizzards? Then, says Nazir, "I cannot describe the absolute desolation I feel." He gestures grandly, like an orchestra conductor, at the view: snow clouds roiling down from the crags, avalanche tracks, man-eating crevasses ribbing the glacier. Soldiers...