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Kangchenjunga Photo Gallery - 4. Kangchenjunga South Base Camp and Return to Suketar

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

Kangchenjunga 07 04 Arriving at Ramche with Kabru IV and Ratong behind I’ve just arrived at Ramche (on the left), with Kabru IV and Ratong (6679m) behind. Ramche is the uppermost yak grazing pasture in the Yalung’s ablation valley, bounded by a high curving moraine wall to the east and south. As Moraine Camp for the successful 1955 expedition, 300 porters deposited six tons of food and equipment here to be ferried up the glacier to the Base Camp.

Kangchenjunga 07 04 Arriving at Ramche with Kabru IV and Ratong behind

Kangchenjunga 07 05 Ramche Camp with Kabru, Ratong and Koktang Here is our camp for the night at Ramche (4620m). My tent is behind the building run by a family of three from Gunsa, and which serves as the kitchen tent and sleeping quarters for the boys. Note the wood stacked outside the house to fuel their simple stove. From left the right the mountains are Kabru, Ratong (6679m) and Koktang (6147m).

Kangchenjunga 07 05 Ramche Camp with Kabru, Ratong and Koktang

Kangchenjunga 07 06 Koktang Sunset from Ramche The ice-fluted ridge of Koktang (6147m) shines in the fading sunset from Ramche.

Kangchenjunga 07 06 Koktang Sunset from Ramche

Kangchenjunga 07 07 Kabru and Ratong at Sunset from Ramche Kabru (7738m) and Ratong (6679m) glisten in the fading sunset from Ramche (4620m).

Kangchenjunga 07 07 Kabru and Ratong at Sunset from Ramche

Kangchenjunga 08 01 Jannu South-east Face from Oktang Jannu's south-east face, seen from just past 15 minutes past Oktang (4800m), doesn't have the shoulders like the other two views.

Kangchenjunga 08 01 Jannu South-east Face from Oktang

Kangchenjunga 08 02 Kangchenjunga Massif from South at Oktang The broad snow and ice covered south face of the Kangchenjunga Massif glistens in the early morning sunshine from Oktang (4800m), a chorten topped with prayer flags, with the Yalung Glacier below.

Kangchenjunga 08 02 Kangchenjunga Massif from South at Oktang

Kangchenjunga 08 03 Kangchenjunga West, Main, Central and South summits from South at Oktang Kangchenjunga’s west (Yalung Kang, 8505m), main (8586m), central (8482m) and south (8476m) summits glisten in the early morning sunshine from Oktang (4800m). Kangchenjunga was first climbed on May 25, 1955 by a British expedition led by Charles Evans who had been John Hunt’s deputy on the successful 1953 Everest team. The team followed the Yalung Glacier to the foot of the southwest face. They climbed to the Great Shelf, a flat low-angled snow basin in the centre of the photo below the central summit. They then crossed the Great Shelf and followed a snow slope, The Gangway, angling up to the west ridge to the left of the main summit, and then on to the summit. The first summit team was Joe Brown and George Band, who was also on Everest in 1953, with the second summit team of Norman Hardie and Tony Streather following the next day.

Kangchenjunga 08 03 Kangchenjunga West, Main, Central and South summits from South at Oktang

Kangchenjunga 08 04 Kangchenjunga Main Summit from South at Oktang Here is an extreme close-up of Kangchenjunga’s main summit (8586m) from the south at Oktang (4800m). The Pinnacles are to the left.

Kangchenjunga 08 04 Kangchenjunga Main Summit from South at Oktang

Kangchenjunga 08 05 Blue Sheep Near Oktang Blue (bharal) sheep cling to the hills near Oktang on the south side of Kangchenjunga.

Kangchenjunga 08 05 Blue Sheep Near Oktang

Kangchenjunga 09 01 Crossing Dangerous Landslide The holiday is now over. The rest is just part of getting home. If I ever tell you that my treks are not dangerous, where one misstep or trip would kill you, don't believe me! I had to cross not only this landslide, but also another two right after this one, on the way to the top of the ridge from Torontan (2990m) on the way back from Kangchenjunga’s south base camp. To make matters worse, it snowed at this altitude last night, and patches of snow dotted the crossing. I was literally on my hands and feet on most of it, always leaning in to the hillside. Occasionally, Gyan or Purna would set a large boulder flying down the slope just to heighten the severity. But, in situations like that you have to focus on putting one foot in front of the other, and placing your hiking stick to help you. The anxiety and fear come after it's over.

Kangchenjunga 09 01 Crossing Dangerous Landslide

Kangchenjunga 09 02 Yamphudin House Outside The man who ran the campground at Omji Khola (2340m) recommended we stay at his house in Yamphudin (1690m). Here it is from the outside with very tall Buddhist prayer flags flapping in the breeze (yellow means earth, green means water, red means fire, white means wind, and blue means sky). The corn has been harvested and hangs under the eaves of the house; two ram sheep and four ewe sheep await their feeding; chickens walk carefree; beautiful flowers grow everywhere; and there's still lots of vegetables to harvest.

Kangchenjunga 09 02 Yamphudin House Outside

Kangchenjunga 09 03 Yamphudin House My Room Inside The man who ran the campground at Omji Khola (2340m) recommended we stay at his house in Yamphudin (1690m). When we arrived, the family was somewhat surprised but quickly made room for us, one of their daughters giving me her room. Here I am having my tea and cookies in her room. Hmmm, delicious, and very comfortable.

Kangchenjunga 09 03 Yamphudin House My Room Inside

Kangchenjunga 09 04 Yamphudin House Toilet So, how do they do their, you know ...? Here is the toilet at Yamphudin. It's a porcelain set of feet with a chute. Although it is initially hard on our Western thighs, it’s actually much more hygienic and a better bodily position! When you're finished, you take a can of water from the big black jug and, voila, flush.

Kangchenjunga 09 04 Yamphudin House Toilet

Kangchenjunga 09 05 Yamphudin House Family Three Generations I was especially lucky to stay with this family at Yamphudin on a special day, a large Hindu festival called Dasain. School is out, and people go home to visit their parents. The grandfather (centre) of our house is an elder of the village, and the local villagers come to his son's house to have him apply tikka. The mother (right) of the house invited our group to join them in a small party. She put a ceremonial katta scarf around each of our necks, and gave us our favourite drink. Rakshi for Gyan, Coke for me, tea for Pemba Rinji, and chang for Nima and Suba. There were about 30 people there, including babies, children, teenagers and us older people. A teenager with a ghetto blaster played Nepali music, and people danced in ones, twos or threes. Naturally I did a couple of scuffs, one with the daughter (left), trying to imitate their hand gestures and dancing style.

Kangchenjunga 09 05 Yamphudin House Family Three Generations

Kangchenjunga 09 06 Bridge between Mamankhe and Pumpe The sun came out early and it was a hot as we trekked from Yamphudin to Sinchewa Bhanjyang. We crossed the new bridge between Mamankhe and Pumpe, with the old bridge beneath.

Kangchenjunga 09 06 Bridge between Mamankhe and Pumpe

Kangchenjunga 09 07 Nima Dorje Cooks at Sinchewa Bhanjyang Nima Dorje cooks my dinner at Sinchewa Bhanjyang (2240m) on my second last day of the Kangchenjunga trek. One of the advantages of arranging your own trek is you can have whatever you want to eat, like soup and French fries.

Kangchenjunga 09 07 Nima Dorje Cooks at Sinchewa Bhanjyang

Kangchenjunga 10 01 Suketar Guarded by Military and Police What a tough last day on my Kangchenjunga trek. After descending 810m from Sinchewa Bhanjyang, we crossed a stream and then it was uphill 1150m to the top of the ridge. At last it was easy, descending to Suketar (2400m). Suketar is heavily guarded by the military and police. The Maoists are never far away.

Kangchenjunga 10 01 Suketar Guarded by Military and Police

Kangchenjunga 10 02 Kangchenjungat Sunrise From Suketar As I woke up on my last day in Suketar (2400m), I was surprised to see Kangchenjunga. From left to right are the Kangchenjunga west (Yalung Kang, 8505m), main (8586m), central (8482m), and south (8476m) summits, briefly glistening in the early morning sun.

Kangchenjunga 10 02 Kangchenjungat Sunrise From Suketar

Kangchenjunga 10 03 Tibetan Breakfast Room at Suketar I had my breakfast in this great Tibetan room in Suketar. I noticed a few neat Tibetan hats, and Danger Dangles and the Zig-Zagger jumped in.

Kangchenjunga 10 03 Tibetan Breakfast Room at Suketar

Kangchenjunga 10 04 Yeti Airlines Stewardess at Suketar Danger Dangles and the Zig-Zagger being held by a nice friendly young stewardess in front of Yeti Airlines at the airport in Suketar. Now, we thought that the Yeti didn't exist, but I guess we were wrong. They are so rich they even have their own airlines! Their logo is a Yeti footprint with six toes. Our direct flight from Suketar to Kathmandu naturally went via Biratnagar. After the 25-minute flight to Biratnagar, we switched planes and after another 40 minutes, we arrived in Kathmandu at 14:00.

Kangchenjunga 10 04 Yeti Airlines Stewardess at Suketar