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Kangchenjunga Photo Gallery - 2. Kanchenjunga North Base Camp

In October 2004, I trekked to Kangchenjunga's North and South Base Camps.

Kangchenjunga 03 01 Jannu Sobithongie-Phole and Khabur As we neared the huge active landslide with potential rock-fall danger, Jannu came into view. I crossed the landslide without incident and then the clouds lifted completely off Jannu. In the mid-afternoon sun Jannu (7710m), the twin peaks of Sobithongie (6670m) and Phole Peak (6645m) and Khabur (6332m) were very clear.

Kangchenjunga 03 01 Jannu Sobithongie-Phole and Khabur

Kangchenjunga 03 02 Jannu North Face Full View Jannu’s North Face was climbed from the left hand ridge in 1977 by a large Japanese expedition. This is how Freshfield saw Jannu’s North Face when descending the valley during his circuit of Kangchenjunga in 1899: “From this point the whole of Jannu was visible, in outline an enormous dome of rock, vast in bulk, symmetrical in form, and crowned by an admirably proportional lantern. ... The view was sensational. We felt the rare rapture of the adventurer who has discovered something worth all the pains.”  - D.W. Freshfield: Round Kangchenjunga.

Kangchenjunga 03 02 Jannu North Face Full View

Kangchenjunga 03 03 Jannu North Face Middle Close Up The first ascent directly up the north face of Jannu was successfully completed by five members of a Russian Team in May 2004 after over 60 days on the face. They thus completed one of the most difficult high-altitude big walls ever attempted. This was the Russians’ second attempt on the intimidating north wall, a nearly vertical 700m cliff atop 50-plus pitches of snow and mixed climbing. The previous fall, a Russian expedition reached 7200m in extremely snowy conditions.

Kangchenjunga 03 03 Jannu North Face Middle Close Up

Kangchenjunga 03 04 Jannu North Face Summit Blazes At Sunset We arrived at Kambachen (4150m), a Tibetan settlement of about a dozen houses. I settled into my tent in cloudy weather. I poked my head out of my tent as evening fell to see that the clouds had lifted and Jannu's North Face turned a fiery red as the sun set. Magical!

Kangchenjunga 03 04 Jannu North Face Summit Blazes At Sunset

Kangchenjunga 03 05 Fairy Waterfall After Kambachen Just over an hour from Kambachen on the way to Lhonak is Khan-dum-chu, the ‘fairy waterfall’, whose waters are supposed to be sacred.

Kangchenjunga 03 05 Fairy Waterfall After Kambachen

Kangchenjunga 04 01 Kangchenjunga Summit, Yalung Kang and Kambachen  from Ramtang Kharka From the far east of the broad open yak pasture of Ramtang Kharka (4350m), in a gap to the right of Wedge Peak, the Kangchenjunga main summit (8586m, far left), the west summit Yalung Kang (8505m, just right of main), and Kambachen (7903m, upper right) were a welcome surprise. Kambachen forms part of the lofty western ridge system of Kangchenjunga, and was for a long time considered to be that mountain’s fifth summit, its north face looming over the Ramtang Glacier. After attempts were made by expeditions from Yugoslavia (1965) and Japan (1973), the summit was eventually gained by a Polish team via the west ridge in May 1974.

Kangchenjunga 04 01 Kangchenjunga Summit, Yalung Kang and Kambachen from Ramtang Kharka

Kangchenjunga 04 02 Tent Peak and Nepal Peak  from Lhonak The best view of Tent Peak (7365m, also called Kirat Chuli) to the left and Nepal peak (7168m) to the right are from Lhonak. Further up at Pangpema; a ridge blocks the view.

Kangchenjunga 04 02 Tent Peak and Nepal Peak from Lhonak

Kangchenjunga 04 03 Twins and Kangchenjunga North Face From Pangpema From Pangpema we had an excellent view of The Twins and Kangchenjunga in the mid-afternoon sun. Named by Freshfield, The Twins is a double peak (7005m and 7350m, also called Gimmigela I and II) situated on the Nepal/Sikkim border just to the north of Kangchenjunga’s North Col. It was only made available to mountaineers by the Nepalese government in 1994, and was climbed for the first time by a Japanese expedition on October of that year, the ascent being made from the Sikkim side via the east ridge.

Kangchenjunga 04 03 Twins and Kangchenjunga North Face From Pangpema

Kangchenjunga 04 04 Kangchenjunga North Face From Pangpema Kangchenjunga's main summit, the third highest in the world at 8586m, and its west summit Yalung Kang to the right, shine in the afternoon sun from Pangpema. The first successful summit of the Northwest Face was made in 1979 by Peter Boardman, Joe Tasker and Doug Scott, without oxygen or porters. The first attempt was stopped by winds estimated to exceed 140 km/hr. They were successful on their second attempt, traveling along the skyline ridge, and then going to the left of the Pinnacles to the summit.

Kangchenjunga 04 04 Kangchenjunga North Face From Pangpema

Kangchenjunga 04 05 Kangchenjunga North Summit Close Up From Pangpema Here is a close-up of Kangchenjunga’s main 8586m summit from Pangpema, with the Pinnacles showing up clearly just to the right of the summit.

Kangchenjunga 04 05 Kangchenjunga North Summit Close Up From Pangpema

Kangchenjunga 04 06 Kangchenjunga North Summit Close Up From Pangpema At Sunrise Kangchenjunga is not a sunrise mountain from Pangpema. Here is a close-up of Kangchenjunga’s main summit, with the Pinnacles showing up clearly just to the right of the summit, at sunrise.

Kangchenjunga 04 06 Kangchenjunga North Summit Close Up From Pangpema At Sunrise

Kangchenjunga 04 07 Kangchenjunga North Face From Above Pangpema We climbed a very steep 230m hill directly behind Pangpema to get a more complete view. In fact, the only extra things you can see are Kambachen and a little more of the Kangchenjunga Glacier. So, it is not necessary. Lots of snow blows off The Twins, Kangchenjunga, Yalung Kang and Kambachen, seen in the early morning from above Pangpema. Freshfield had made a note of the danger on Kangchenjunga: “The whole face of the mountain might be imagined to have been constructed by the Demon of Kanchenjunga for the express purpose of defense against human assault, so skillfully is each comparatively weak spot raked by the ice and rock batteries”.

Kangchenjunga 04 07 Kangchenjunga North Face From Above Pangpema

Kangchenjunga 04 08 Wedge Peak From Above Pangpema The aptly named beautiful ice-fluted Wedge Peak (6750m) shines in the early morning sun from above Pangpema. Frank Smythe wrote in The Kangchenjunga Adventure, “the Wedge peak seen from the north is nothing more or less than a gigantic elemental wedge. It is a brutal mountain … turn to the skyline. There ice, not ordinary ice, sharp-edged and unbroken, but ice hacked and tortured by winds, clings to the ridges; thin flakes of ice through which the sun gleams with a cold fire; pinnacles of fairy-like delicacy, elegant busts, daring minarets, extravagant mushrooms, a strange goblinesque procession, drunken and tottering, frozen in a downward march.”

Kangchenjunga 04 08 Wedge Peak From Above Pangpema

Kangchenjunga 04 09 Trekking Crew From Pangpema Here is my full trekking crew at Pangpema. Guide Gyan and I sitting down. Standing from left to right are porter Suba Sing, porter Purna, porter Pemba Rinji, Zig-Zagger, and cook Nima Dorje. Danger Dangles is barely visible in the prayer flags to the right on a monument to Canadian Chris Grasswick who summitted and died May 24, 2002 at the age of 39.

Kangchenjunga 04 09 Trekking Crew From Pangpema