IT WAS A MAGICAL SPOT ON A MAGICAL TRIP: the northern tip of Pakistan, where the world’s four most majestic mountain ranges: the Himalayas, Hindu Kush, Karakorams and Pamirs brush shoulders. Here, even the tallest local peak, Tirich Mir, is inhabited by fairies, according to native folklore.

Permanently covered by ice, the 25,000ft mountain is just 3,000ft short of Everest and glistens like glass over the valley where 43-year-old Maureen Lines was hiking alone. As she was jumping a stream she lost her footing. A woman working in the fields grabbed her hand, preventing a dunking. As she did, her face veil, unusual in this region, fell away, and Maureen could see what she had chosen to obscure. The young woman’s face was a mass of terrible scars and sores.

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