Kangchenjunga of 8,586 metres(28,169 ft (Nepali: Kanchanja?gha ) is the third highest mountain in the world (after Mount Everest and K2). Kangchenjunga translated means "The Five Treasures of Snows", as it contains five peaks, four of them over 8,450 metres. The treasures represent the five repositories of god, which are gold, silver, gems, grain, and holy books.

Three of these five peaks (main, central, and south) are on the border of North Sikkim district of Sikkim, India and Taplejung District of Nepal, while the other two are completely in Taplejung District. Nepal is home to the Kangchenjunga Conservation Area Project run by the World Wildlife Fund, in association with HMG in Nepal, the sanctuary is also home to the Red Panda and other snow animals, birds and plants. India's side of Kangchenjunga also has a protected park area called the Khangchendzonga National Park.

Until 1852, Kangchenjunga was assumed to be the highest mountain in the world, but calculations made by the British Great Trigonometric Survey in 1849 came to the conclusion that Mount Everest (known as Peak XV at the time) was the highest and Kangchenjunga the third-highest. Kangchenjunga was first climbed on May 25, 1955 by Joe Brown and George Band of a British expedition. The British expedition honoured the beliefs of the Sikkimese, who hold the summit sacred, by stopping a few feet short of the actual summit. Most successful summit parties since then have followed this tradition.

Climbing history

Early reconnaissance and attempts

1848/49 Joseph Dalton Hooker explored parts of the eastern Nepal previously completely unknown to Europeans. He made repeated tours of the river valleys into the foothills leading up to Kangchenjunga, reaching within 22km of the peak, and the passes into Tibet.

1855 Herrmann von Schlagaintweit from Germany is put in charge of the Magnetic Survey of India, exploring the vicinity and painting a panorama of Everest and Kanchenjunga, prior to being turned back by Nepalese soldiers.

1882/83 British pioneer of Himalayan mountaineering, W.W. Graham, claimed to have circumnavigated the mountain in March 1882, returning in July 1883 with two Swiss guides for a purported attempt whilst climbing other peaks in the area and hunting snow leopard.

1899 British explorer Douglas Freshfield and the Italian photographer Vittorio Sella are the first to circumnavigate the mountain. They are the first mountaineers to view the great Western Face of Kangchenjunga.

1905 The Kangchenjunga expedition (1905) was the first attempt at climbing the mountain, headed by Aleister Crowley and Dr. Jules Jacot-Guillarmod. Unsuccessful, they reached 6,500 metres on the southwest side of the mountain. Climber Alexis Pache and three local porters were killed in an avalanche.

1929 A German expedition led by Paul Bauer reached 7,400 m (24,280 ft) on the northeast spur before being turned back by a five-day storm.

1930 An International Expedition led by George Dyhrenfurth, German Uli Wieland, Austrian Erwin Schneider and Englishman Frank Smythe (who published "The Kangchenjunga Adventure" in the same year). The attempt failed due to poor weather and snow conditions.

1931 A second German expedition, led again by Paul Bauer, attempted the northeast spur before being turned back by bad weather, illnesses, and deaths. The expedition retreats after climbing only a little higher than the 1929 attempt.

1954 A reconnaissance of Kangchenjunga's southwest side is made by John Kempe (leader), J.W. Tucker, Ron Jackson, Trevor H. Braham, G.C. Lewis, and Dr. D.S. Mathews. This reconnaissance led to the route used by the successful 1955 expedition.

(Note. Information about above mentioned articles and climbing history of the Mountain are collected from different free media sources and for HNT use only. It does not represent an official data so that if need to correct, we would be grateful to your suggestion & support.)

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The first ascent

In 1955, Joe Brown and George Band made the first ascent on May 25, followed by Norman Hardie and Tony Streather on May 26. The full team also included John Clegg (team doctor), Charles Evans (team leader), John Angelo Jackson, Neil Mather, and Tom Mackinnon.

The ascent proved Aleister Crowley's 1905 route (also investigated by the 1954 reconnaissance) was viable. The route starts on the Yalung Glacier to the southwest of the peak, and climbs the Yalung Face, which is 3,000 metres (10,000 ft) high. The main feature of this face is the "Great Shelf", a large sloping plateau at around 7,500 metres (24,600 ft), covered by a hanging glacier. The route is almost entirely on snow, glacier, and one icefall; the summit ridge itself can involve a small amount of travel on rock.The first ascent expedition made six camps above their base camp, two below the Shelf, two on it, and two above it. They started on April 18, and everyone was back to base camp by May 28

Further ascents

1973 Climbers Yutaka Ageta and Takeo Matsuda of the Japanese expedition, summited Kangchenjunga West (Yalung Kang) by climbing the SW Ridge.

1977 The second ascent of Kangchenjunga, by an Indian Army team led by Colonel Narinder Kumar. They completed the northeast spur, the difficult ridge that defeated the German expeditions in 1929 and 1931.

1978 A Polish team made the first successful ascent of the south summit (Kangchenjunga II).

1979 The third ascent, on May 16, and first without oxygen, by Doug Scott, Peter Boardman, and Joe Tasker who established a new route on the North side (AAJ Vol 22 no. 2 issue 53)

1983 Pierre Beghin made the first solo ascent and without oxygen.

1986 On January 11, Krzysztof Wielicki and Jerzy Kukuczka, Polish climbers make the first winter ascent.

1991 Marija Frantar and Joze Rozman attempt the first ascent by a woman but their bodies are later found below the summit headwall. The same year, Andrej Stremfelj and Marko Prezelj complete a perfect, technically demanding, elegant alpine style climb up the south ridge of Kangchenjunga to the south summit (8,494 m).

1992 Wanda Rutkiewicz, a Polish climber, dies near the summit after refusing to descend in an approaching storm.

1995 Benoît Chamoux, Pierre Royer and their Sherpa guide disappeared on October 6 near the summit.

1998 Ginette Harrison becomes the first woman to reach the summit. Until then Kangchenjunga had been the only eight-thousander that had not seen a female ascent.

2005 Alan Hinkes, a British climber, is the only person able to summit Kangchenjunga in its 50th anniversary of first ascent.

2006 Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner, an Austrian mountaineer, is the second woman to reach the summit.


The five peaks of Kangchenjunga are as follows:

The huge massif of Kangchenjunga is buttressed by great ridges running roughly due east to west and north to south, forming a giant 'X'. These ridges contain a host of peaks between 6,000 and 8,000 metres. On the east ridge in Sikkim, is Siniolchu (6,888 m/22,600 ft). The west ridge culminates in the magnificent Jannu (7,710 m/25,294 ft) with its imposing north face. To the south, clearly visible from Darjeeling, are Kabru North (7,338 m/24,075 ft), Kabru South (7,316 m/24,002 ft) and Rathong peaks (6,678 m/21,910 ft). The north ridge, after passing through the minor subpeak Kangchenjunga North (7741 m/25,397 ft), contains The Twins and Tent Peak, and runs up to the Tibetan border by the Jongsong La , a 6,120 m (20,080 ft) pass.

Because of its remote location in Nepal and difficult access from India, the Kangchenjunga region is not much explored by trekkers. It has, therefore, retained much of its pristine beauty. In Sikkim too, trekking into the Kangchenjunga region has just been permitted. The Goecha La trek is gaining popularity amongst tourists. It goes to the Goecha La Pass, located right in front of the huge southeast face of Kangchenjunga. Another trek to Green Lake Basin has recently been opened for trekking. This goes to the Northeast side of Kangchenjunga along the famous Zemu Glacier.

The Kangchenjunga Conservation Area (KCA) covers 2,035 km² surrounding the mountain on the Nepalese side.




Trek Facts

Trip duration: 60 Days
Grade: Challenging
Activity: Sightseeing, trekking & Mountaineering
Starts in: Kathmandu
Ends in: Kathmandu
Accommodation: Hotel, camping
Transportation: Flights, private car or tourist bus
Maximum altitude: 8586M

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