Kangchenjunga sometimes spelled Kanchanjanga or
Kinchinjunga is the third largest mountain in the
world. Kangchenjunga is located on the Sikkim
(India)-Nepal border as part of the Himalayan
mountain range. Kangchenjunga has 5 peaks, of which
the true Summit is 28,169 feet or 8586 meters.
The name Kangchenjunga means "The Five Treasures of
the Snow" in the local dialect, referring to its
five summits all over 8000 meters.
Kangchenjunga has an enormous mass with numerous
satellite peaks along its ridges. Kangchenjunga is
located at Latitude 27░ 42' 9'' Longitude 88░ 9' 1
'. Kangchenjunga is also known by some as named
Kangchen Dz÷-nga, Kachendzonga, Kangchanfanga.
After several attempts the mountain was first
climbed in 1955 by a British expedition lead
by Charles Evans. The first ascent was by George
Band and Joe Brown. On the following day Norman
Hardie and Tony Streather.
Ginette Harrison is first and ONLY woman to
summit (5/18/98) Kangchenjunga to date. Wanda
Rutkiewicz, who is regarded as the greatest women
climber ever, died on Kangchenjunga on May 12 or
A brief time line is below:
1852: The height of Mt Everest is calculated based
on the results of the 1849 British Great
Trigonometric Survey, and it is discovered that
Kangchenjunga is no longer the highest mountain in
the world as previously thought, but the third
highest at 28,169 feet (8586 meters).
1899: British climber and explorer Douglas
Freshfield and famous Italian photographer
Vittorio Sella are the first to circumnavigate the
mountain. Illegally traveling through Eastern
Nepal, they are the first mountaineers to view the
great Western Face of Kangchenjunga.
1905: Alistair Crowley sets up a camp at the head
of the Yalung Glacier in Nepal. He establishes a
high camp at 21,325 feet (6500 meters) when
disaster strikes. A party of porters and climbers,
including climbers Alexis Pache and Dr
Jacot-Guillarmod, insist on descending in the
afternoon to Camp 7 at 20,500 feet (6250 meters).
The inadequately supplied porters - reportedly
climbing barefooted! - repeatedly slip on the icy
slopes, and eventually on a traverse a fall
by one of the porters triggers an avalanche. The sad result is that Pache and three porters are killed. Hearing their
shouts, Crowley reportedly refuses to descend and
help, remaining in his tent drinking tea. He is
quoted in a newspaper as saying he was "not
over-anxious in the circumstances...to render
help. A mountain accident of this sort is one of
the things for which I have no sympathy whatever".
1929: German post-monsoon expedition led by Paul
Bauer attacks the NE Spur starting from the Zemu
Glacier in Sikkim. Utilizing a series of snow
caves in bad weather conditions, the team reaches
24,300 feet (7400 meters). A five-day storm buries
most of their equipment so they are forced to
1930: International Expedition led by George
Dyhrenfurth and including the German Uli Wieland,
Austrian Erwin Schneider, and the Briton Frank
Smythe. Surprisingly they are granted permission
to approach the NW side from Nepal. During an
attempt on the North Ridge the porter Chettan and
Schneider are swept away in an avalanche - Chettan
is killed but Schneider miraculously survives. A
new attempt is made on the NW Face, but the
expedition is eventually called off because of
hard climbing and poor snow conditions.
1931: Second German Expedition led by Paul Bauer,
again attempting the NE Spur. The attempt is
plagued by bad weather, illnesses and deaths.
Bauer has to leave the expedition and a Sherpa and
porter die - all due to sickness. After another
accident where a climber and Sherpa are killed in
a fall, the expedition retreats after climbing
only a little higher than the 1929 attempt.
1955: FIRST ASCENT - British Expedition led by
Everester Charles Evans via the SW Face using
oxygen. The now classic route follows the Yalung
Glacier to the base of the SW Face, over the
Western Buttress to the Great Shelf which lies
below the amphitheater formed by the Main summit
and Yalung Kang. Above the Great Shelf the route
is pushed up The Gangway to near the West Ridge,
where the pinnacled ridge crest is avoided by
climbing the headwall until the summit ridge can
be reached. The first assault pair of Joe Brown
and George Band are successful, followed by a
second successful ascent by Norman Hardie and Tony
Streather. Out of respect for local beliefs, the
actual summit itself remained virgin, a tradition
that continued until recent years.
1973: Japanese expedition to Yalung Kang succeeds
in climbing the SW Ridge. Yutaka Ageta and Takeo
Matsuda summit but have to bivouac on the descent.
The next day Matsuda is tragically killed,
probably by falling rock.
1975: Austro-German ascent of Yalung Kang
following the original British route to the Great
Shelf before branching off up a couloir up the
1977: Indian Army Expedition led by Col. N. Kuma,
successfully completing the German route from
Sikkim up the NE Spur to the North Ridge. Major
Prem Chand and Nima Dorje Sherpa reach the top on
1978: First successful climb by a Polish team of
the South Summit (Kangchenjunga II) and the two
highest points of the triple-peaked Central
Summit. Climbers E. Chrobak and W. Wroz reach the
South Summit via the West Face, and the Central
Summit is reached by W. Brandski, Z. Heinrich, and
K. Olech. A Spanish expedition to Yalung Kang
illegally climbs the lowest of the triple peaks of
the Central Summit.
1979: Four-man team consisting of Peter Boardman,
Joe Tasker, Doug Scott, and Georges Bettembourg
climbs the NW Face without oxygen or porters. A
snowcave top camp is placed at 24,400 feet (7440
meters), and the first attempt by Bettembourg,
Boardman, and Scott is repulsed by winds estimated
to exceed 90 mph (140 km/hr). Boardman, Scott and
Tasker make a second attempt from a higher bivouac
on the ridge, and climb the NW Face below the
summit pyramid and reach the West Ridge, following
it to the top.
1980: Japanese NW Face Direct. R. Fukuda, S.
Kawamura, N. Sakashita, S Suzuki, and Ang Phurbu
Sherpa summit on May 14, followed by M. Ohmiya, T.
Sakano, and Pemba Tshering Sherpa on May 17.
1980: Expedition led by Dr KM Herrligkoffer
following the original British SW Face route. On
May 15 G. Ritter, Nima Dorje Sherpa, and Lhakpa
Gyalu Sherpa summit.
1981: Japanese expedition attempts main summit and
Yalung Kang simultaneously. A coordinated effort
succeeds in placing five climbers and a Sherpa on
the main summit, and Yalung Kang is also climbed
but the planned traverse between the two is not
completed when it appears much more difficult than
1982: Reinhold Messner, Friedl Mutschelecher and
Sherpa Ang Dorje climb a new route on the NW Face.
They climb a spur above the 1979 British and 1980
Japanese Direct routes, reaching the North Ridge
near the North Col, and then following the ridge
to the summit. An epic descent in a blizzard
follows where Messner later learns that he had an
amoebic liver abscess.
1983: FIRST SOLO by Pierre Beghin following the
original route during the post-monsoon and without
oxygen. Beghin bivouacs at 20,500 feet (6250
meters) and 25,250 feet (7700 meters). On Oct 17
he summits and descends to 23,600 feet (7200
meters) on the same day!
1984: British-Canadian Roger Marshall repeats
Beghin's post-monsoon solo on the same route.
1984: A large Japanese expedition with 22 climbers
and 31 Sherpas traverses the South, Central, and
Main summits but doesn't finish the traverse by
ascending Yalung Kang.
1985: Yugoslavian climbers Bornt Bergant and Tomo
Cesen make the first ascent of the North Face of
1986: The first Winter ascent of the main summit
by Poles Jerzy Kukuczka and Krzysztof Wielicki on
1987: A large Indian expedition repeats their 1977
ascent of the NE Spur. On the first summit
attempt, F. Bhutia, P. Dorjee, and C. Tsering
succeed in reaching the top but perish on the
descent. The second summit party consisting of S.
Limbu, C. Singh, and B. Singh finds a prayer flag
left behind by the first party on the top, and
while descending C. Singh sadly also dies.
1988: Austrian Peter Habeler, American Buhler, and
Spaniard Martin Zabeleta succeed in climbing a
variation of the 1979 British North Route
1989: A large Russian expedition consisting of 32
climbers and 17 Sherpas successfully traverses all
four summits. Separate teams traverse the summits
in opposite directions.
1989: American expedition succeeds on the NW Face
to North Ridge route, placing P. Ershler, C. van
Hoy, E. Visteurs, R. Link, L. Nielson, and G.
Wilson on the summit.
1991: A Slovenian-Polish team successfully placed
two climbers on the summit via the original ascent
route. In the first attempt to climb Kangchenjunga
by a woman, Marija Frantor and Joze Rozman report
by radio that they are cold, partially snowblind,
and completely lost. Their bodies are later found
below the summit headwall.
1991: As part of the same Slovenian-Polish
expedition, Slovenians Marko Prezelj and Andrej
Stremfelj make the first ascent of the very
difficult and technical South Ridge to the top of
the South Summit. The pair ascend Grade VI A2 rock
and near vertical ice, and after four bivouacs
reach the Soviet route at 26,600 feet (8100
meters). From there they are able to rapidly climb
the fixed ropes to the summit, where they descend
the Polish route. One of the most spectacular
climbs in all of Himalayan history.
1992: Wanda Rutkiewicz is lost while attempting
the summit with Carlos Carsolio. Carsolio climbs
faster and reaches the summit first, and while
descending he encounters Rutkiewicz still climbing
upwards, but is unable to persuade her to descend.
She plans on bivouacking and continuing on to the
summit the next day, but a storm blows in and
Rutkiewicz is never heard from again.
1995: During the post-monsoon period, a race
develops between the Swiss Erhard Loretan and the
Frenchman Benoit Chamoux to be the third person to
ascend all fourteen 8000ers. Erhard Loretan and
partner Jean Troillet reach the summit first. They
climb most of the way up the normal route but
continue up the Gangway to the col between Yalung
Kang and the Main summit, and from there climb the
West Ridge to the summit. Tragically Chamoux
disappears on the same route a few days later, as
does his cameraman Pierre Royer who had turned
back below the col.
1998: Anglo-American team led by Gary Pfisterer
climbs the German variation to the British NW Face
route. Climbing without oxygen, Brit Ginette
Harrison becomes the first woman to summit
Kangchenjunga, which is the last 8000er to be
climbed by a woman.