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Kangchenjunga 2000


Hinkes is to attempt a new route on the South-West face, and climb it solo!  Alan Hinkes, the UK's most successful high altitude mountaineer, has named the third highest mountain in the world, Kangchenjunga as his next mountain in his record breaking challenge to climb the fourteen mountains in the world over 8000 meters in height. He leaves for Nepal in a few days on his spring pre-monsoon 2000 expedition. Kangchenjunga was first climbed in 1955 by a British expedition which included George Band, now aged 71. George had climbed on Everest with Hillary and Tensing in 1953. He climbed Kangchenjunga using a route on the south-west face which has not been climbed since that date.

"George Band has given me some very useful background about how he tackled Kangchenjunga," said Alan. "I will be following in the footsteps of one of the great mountaineers of the 50s and 60s." The fourteen mountains over 8000m high are all in the Himalaya and nearby Karakoram range of mountains, and Alan's attempt to climb them is known as Challenge 8000. No British mountaineer has ever climbed all fourteen and many climbers from around the world have died trying to climb them.

He has been involved in many dangerous incidents in the Himalaya over the years, in particular in 1997 when he made the headlines around the world after he sneezed on some chapati flour and slipped a disc. He lay in agony for ten days part way up a mountain and it was only when he could drag himself down to a lower altitude that he could be rescued by helicopter and taken to hospital. Kangchenjunga is the third highest mountain in the world. Although it is only 270 meters lower than Everest some consider it is a much harder mountain to climb. It lies at the eastern extreme of the Himalayan range, on the border between India and Nepal. Alan will be approaching the mountain from the Nepalese side in his attempt on the south-west face. After the first ascent of Kangchenjunga in 1955, it was not climbed again for twenty-two years, largely because of the inaccessible nature of the mountain. It still remains one of the least climbed 8000 meter mountains in the Himalaya.

All mountains at this height are very dangerous to climb, and mountaineers often refer to this extreme altitude as the 'death zone', because no-one can survive at that altitude for more than a few days. Because Kangchenjunga lies at the eastern extreme of the Himalaya it is exposed to very bad weather conditions, in particular winds of 300 mph or more. It is also a technically difficult mountain to climb, much harder than Everest, which is only 250m higher, and possibly as hard as K2 which is only 12m higher. There are no easy routes up Kangchenjunga; all faces have serious avalanche and rockfall dangers and very difficult terrain. 

Maybe Alan is intending to climb solo, using the technique of modern light-weight expeditions.

"Each mountain offers its own extreme challenge," said Alan Hinkes, "but Kangchenjunga has many different challenges. Even the approach to base camp will be harder than most and the extreme conditions on the mountain will pose many physical and mental challenges to me. My motivation is high. But I also believe that no mountain is worth a life and the real challenge will be to pit my experience against the conditions and challenges on the mountain."

Update: Alan Hinkes leaves for Kangchenjunga

Kathmandu 4/12/2000: Alan Hinkes left Kathmandu this morning by Nepal Airlines to Biratnagar , a lowland terai town of Nepal, to start his walk-in to Kangchenjunga Base Camp. Alan will fly tomorrow morning to Taplejung, where he will be received by his waiting crew led by his Sherpa Ang Pasang. Alan will spend the night today at Biratnagar, to catch early morning flight to Taplejung tomorrow. Alan hopes to reach Base Camp in 10 days time. 

Earlier Alan drove to the end of Kathmandu City at a place called Chovar to do a Tree Plantation, a sapling of plum, one of Alan's favorite fruit. The plantation is hoped to bring some awareness among the villagers about environment and the benefit of greening their surroundings.

Reported by Himalaya Center Kathmandu 

Dispatch One: Alan Hinkes reports from Kathmandu just before heading off on the long trek to Kangchenjunga base camp: 

"Monday 3 April was departure date from England. After fine, dry and warm weather in North Yorkshire (I had been hearing skylarks in the fields whilst out training), Monday turned back to winter. The return to bad weather made for an arduous and long drive to London Heathrow.

I was met at the Qatar Airways desk by their European Regional Manager Mr. Salehi and by ground crew Lorraine and Wendy, who looked after me before boarding at 21.15 hours for the flight to Doha. I was relieved to settle back in the airline seat, sip a wine and beer and get some Z's in - it was the first time I had been able to sit back and relax for several weeks. After a short one hour stop in Doha, it was on to Kathmandu. 

The weeks leading up to my departure had been hectic, arranging equipment, sorting and packing. Most of my cargo, my equipment and food, was assembled at the Berghaus Extrem Centre in Sunderland before being sent to Hull where it was packed by Britannia Movers International and shipped to Heathrow for a Qatar Airways flight to Kathmandu. 

Kathmandu is dusty and polluted with traffic fumes. When I arrived I transferred to the same hotel that I had stayed in after climbing Makalu in the spring of 1999. Whilst I had been staying there, the fifth floor and all the landings had been burnt out in a fire. I had risked my life at the height of the fire by dashing back into the smoked filled hotel to rescue my rolls of undeveloped film and video images taken on the summit of Makalu. To me they were irreplaceable. I was horrified at the time of the fire at the lack of fire and safety equipment in the hotel. Now, a year later, although the hotel has been repaired, there are still no fire alarms, sprinklers, fire extinguishers, fire hoses or fire escapes. Who needs life on an 8000er to live dangerously?! 

Britannia Movers International did a great job on the airfreight. I cleared it through customs easily and unpacked the boxes to organize it into 30kg loads. I shall need around 25 porters to help me carry my equipment to base camp. There are no roads near to Kangchenjunga and everything will have to be carried. A porter's load is around 30kgs in weight. I had to pack all of my equipment into watertight barrels and huge hold-alls before my equipment could leave Kathmandu. 

My equipment is provided for me by some of the leading companies in the climbing world including outdoor clothing and rucksacs from Berghaus and the latest GPS watch from Casio ProTrek. 

I left some equipment in storage here in Kathmandu after my expedition to Makalu last year. My Esse kerosene heater for base camp was still here and has now headed with the rest of my equipment for base camp to warm my mess tent. I certainly don't need a heater here in Kathmandu as it is warm and sunny. As well as providing a heater for base camp, Esse has given me a cap to protect my head from the sun. A cap is not a standard Esse product, but neither is my heater. It was specially made for me by Esse and engraved with my Challenge 8000 logo. 

I met up with my base camp crew on Friday. Pemba my cook, who is a Tamang, was with me at Makalu last year. He knows I like egg, chips and spam at base camp, as well as rice, dhal and chapattis. Pemba Gyalzen is his helper and the Sirdar (foreman) is Ang Pasang, a Sherpa who I met in '97. 

The crew set off for the road head the next day, a journey which normally takes two and a half days. I shall then fly to the town of Biratnagar and from there to a dirt airstrip at the road head at Tapelegung to join them for the twelve day trek to base camp. We will probably be walking for around six to eight hours a day, just like fell walking in the Lake District, only higher and more remote. 

Unfortunately, there was a bit of a glitch. There is a strike in progress in that area and the crew were not able to drive as far as the road head. They made it about half way and are now starting the trek a bit earlier than planned and have begun walking. This has delayed me by a couple of days. I suppose an option would have been to charter a plane to the airstrip, or a heli, but that was beyond my budget. During my remaining days in Kathmandu, I hope to enjoy the fine weather and meet old friends like Bikrum, Satish and Naryan - who has been helping me with my laptop which was provided for me by Diagonal. I have been practicing with a new video camera, a webcam provided by Sharp, so that I can send moving pictures back via the Internet.

Yesterday I picked up twelve bottles of The Famous Grouse scotch whiskey which will be useful for thinning the blood at base camp! Only joking - but there are a couple of other expeditions on Kangchenjunga, so if I can give them a gift of some Famous Grouse, it should make me a welcome newcomer when I reach there! 

Over the last couple of days I have been giving interviews to various radio stations, TV and newspapers, as well as chatting on a live telephone link from Kathmandu to the Business Club lunch at the New Mill Restaurant in Eversley. 

I have picked up a slight head cold, probably from all the dust in Kathmandu, which has given me a sore throat and blocked nose. There is plenty of fresh fruit here and I am taking my Seven Seas vitamins, so I should shake off the cold before I start the trek. 

I shall be leaving Kathmandu on Thursday 13 April, which is new year's day here in the year 2057, so my next report should be in about two weeks time after I arrive in base camp." Alan

Four Expeditions are expected on Kangchenjunga this Spring 2000 in addition to Alan:

Mt. Kangchenjunga (8586m)
Indo Tibetan Border Police Expedition Kangchenjunga S.W. Side Sunil Datta Sharma India
Valais Kangchenjunga Exp' 2000. Kangchenjunga S. Face Andre Georges Switzerland
2000 Korean Kangchenjunga Exp. Kangchenjunga S.Face Go In Kyung Korea
British Services Kangchenjunga Exp. 2000 Kangchenjunga Yalung Face Andrew Hughes UK
  • Alan Hinkes reaches Oktang at Kangchenjunga

Alan Hinkes has reached Oktang around 4360 meters on Sunday, the 23rd April 2000. When he arrived here, Oktang was full of spring, flowers in bloom and birds singing every where; it had a warm climate as well reminding the feel of early summer. 

By 1700 hrs of Sunday, however, weather turned violent, throughout whole night with storm and lightening that ran till 0600 hrs morning next day: the Monday. Snowfall also occurred whole night, of about 16 inches and suddenly it was winter in Oktang. Alan estimates that Base Camp may have about 18 inches of snow. 

Alan is making his way through the Glacier, using the porters he had accompanied with right from Kathmandu. Alan thinks he will reach his Base camp in about a week time. 

Reported by Bikrum Pandey, Kathmandu  / Nepal 

  • Update 4/27/2000


Violent weather has delayed Alan Hinkes on his trek to base camp of Kangchenjunga. Alan is attempting to be the first Britain to climb all fourteen of the world's highest mountains, which are all over 8000 meters in height - Challenge 8000. This spring, he is attempting to climb Kangchenjunga the third highest mountain in the world. 

Alan left Kathmandu in Nepal on Thursday 13 April and flew to Biratnagar, a town on the Indian/Nepalese border which is at about 235 meters above sea level. From there he attempted to fly on a small light aircraft to a dirt airstrip at Tapelejung, at 2000 meters, but his plane had to turn back to Biratnagar because of bad weather. When he finally  arrived at Tapelejung he found that his equipment, which had been traveling by road, had been delayed by a road block. Tapelejung is the road head - the location of the nearest road to Kangchenjunga. From there the route is a twelve day trek on foot across very rough and inhospitable terrain to the mountain. 

Having lost several days waiting for his equipment to join him, Alan set off on the trek with around 25 Nepalese porters carrying his equipment and accompanied by his three base camp staff; Pemba, his cook, Ang Pasang the camp Sirdar or foreman and Pemba Gyalzen the cook's helper. 

By Sunday 23 April they had reached Oktang at 4360 meters, when the weather changed suddenly and dramatically from warm spring sunshine to a violent storm which deposited about sixteen inches of snow in one night. The group was confined to their tents and forced to wait out the storm. "We were struck by a horrendous storm," said Alan via his satellite phone from Oktang. "The weather was really violent with very strong winds, lightning and a very heavy dump of snow. The conditions for the remaining part of the trek will be much worse. I think that it will be about another week before we reach base camp." 

"Although this delay is very frustrating," he continued, "I still have enough time to make my attempt on Kangchenjunga. I shall push on to base camp and assess the impact of the storm on the conditions on the mountain. This area at the eastern end of the Himalayan mountains has a history of very bad weather and unfortunately violent storms are very common." Alan 


  • Death on Kangchenjunga (8586meters): Ang Dawa Tamang, sirdar of the " 2000 Korea Kangchenjunga Expedition" led by Mr. Goin Kyun was hit by an ice block and seriously injured between Camp III & Camp IV on 22nd April, during the course of climbing. He was being carried down to the base camp for treatment, but he succumbed to the injury and died on the way to the base camp on 23rd April' 2000. Source: Binita & Sangita @ Himalaya Center / Kathmandu /Nepal 

Update 5/11/2000


Despite delays getting himself and his equipment to base camp, and set-backs caused by the weather, Alan Hinkes has begun his assault of the giant Himalayan mountain Kangchenjunga (8586m).

Alan is attempting to be the first Briton to climb all fourteen of the world's highest mountains, which are all over 8000 meters in height - Challenge 8000. This spring, he is attempting to climb Kangchenjunga the third highest mountain in the world. 

Alan arrived at base camp (4500m) on Sunday 30 April after an epic eighteen days journey from Kathmandu. The trek from the road head at Tapelejung had taken several days longer than expected due to severe weather. Very heavy snow falls made the route treacherous and the 25 porters who were carrying all of his equipment were forced to take the last part of the trek at a very slow pace. 

At base camp, Alan found four other expeditions, from India, Korea, Switzerland and Britain already tackling Kangchenjunga. They were able to report that the severe storms had dumped a lot of fresh snow on the mountain, increasing the avalanche danger and making the ascent much more dangerous. 

"Once the sun has come up it starts to partially melt the snow and I can hear avalanches crashing down the mountain throughout the day," said Alan via satellite phone. "Everything is completely white; the fresh falls of snow have covered up many of the rocky outcrops." 

Once all of his equipment had arrived at base camp, Alan was able to begin his assault on the mountain. On Friday 5 May he climbed up to Camp 1 at 6050 meters, crossing deep snow and climbing up some challenging rock and ice obstacles. He spent the night at this altitude and suffered from some mild altitude sickness, which every climber has to overcome before they can go higher. He returned to base camp on Saturday to rest. 

To acclimatize safely, all climbers have to gradually climb higher, returning to base camp to rest before pushing higher, returning, pushing higher still and returning to rest until they are ready to make the final summit attempt. Acute mountain sickness can be fatal and it is important to acclimatize slowly to the altitude, although every time a climber pushes higher he will suffer from the early signs of mountain sickness; headaches, flu-like symptoms, nausea and disorientation. It will take Alan about three weeks of climbing and returning before he is acclimatized enough to make a summit attempt. 

On Wednesday 10 May, Alan set off for Camp 1 again and hopes to climb to Camp 2 at 6800m and possibly higher, where he will spend one or two nights before returning to base camp. Eventually Alan will put Camp 3 at about 7300m and his final Camp, which may only be a bivouac at about 7800m. He should be ready to make his summit attempt in the last week in May. Kangchenjunga is 8586m high, only 300m lower than Everest. 

Before leaving for Camp 1 Alan commented: "It feels good to be on the mountain climbing, although the conditions are not ideal. This area at the eastern end of the Himalayan mountains has a reputation for bad weather so I was expecting the conditions to be hard. The monsoon will come in fast at the end of May, so I shall take every break in the weather over the next three weeks to push higher until I am ready to make my attempt on the summit of Kangchenjunga." 

  • Kangchenjunga Spring 2000 

The First Ascent of Kangchenjunga for the Spring Season 2000 

At 1403 local time (0918 UK time) today, Saturday 13th May 2000, John Doyle, Ady Cole, Nima Dhorje and Pemba Norbu stood on the summit of Kangchenjunga (8586 meters), the third highest mountain in the world.  They are the first climbers this season to reach the Summit of Kangchenjunga and achieved the ascent without the use of supplementary oxygen. - Steve Jackson, the Leader. 

Himalaya Center,  Kathmandu  13 May 2000

  • Mt. Kangchenjunga (8586m) - Summited

 Name of the Expedition: 2000 Korean Kangchenjunga Expedition

Expedition Leader: Mr. Goin Kyun (56 yrs), Chairman of Pagoda Academy Inc.

Country: Korea

No. of Team Members: 7

Ascent Route: South West Ridge

Starting Point: 

Date of Summit: 19th May 2000

Time of Summit: 5.30 A.M 

 Summiters, Date of Birth, Home Town & Country

1.      Mr. Park Mu Taek (1968), Daegu City, Seoul, Korea.

2.      Mr. Hong Gil Um, Euijungbu City, Kyungki-do, Korea.

Source: Himalaya Center, Kathmandu Nepal

  • Kangchenjunga - Summited

1) Year & Season : Spring 2000
2) Name of the Expedition : Indo Tibetan Border Police Expedition
3) Expedition Leader : MR. Sunil Datta Sharma (1962), Govt. Employee, R.K.Puram, New Delhi,
4) Country : India
5) No. of Team Members : 7
6) Ascent Route : South West Side
7) Date of Summit : 20 May 2000
8) Time of Summit : 3.45 PM

Mr. Wanchuk Sherpa, (1965) Govt. Employee, Darjeeling, India 

Source: HIMALAYA Center, Kathmandu 31st May 2000


ON THE DESCENT ALAN FALLS INTO A DEEP CREVASSE, BREAKING HIS ARM: Alan Hinkes, one of the UK's top high altitude mountaineers, has abandoned his attempt on Kangchenjunga (8586m), the third highest mountain in the world after he encountered very dangerous snow conditions at about 8000 meters in height. On the descent, a snow bridge across a crevasse collapsed and he fell into it badly hitting his elbow and breaking his arm.

Alan is attempting to be the first Briton to climb all fourteen of the world's highest mountains, which are all over 8000 meters in height - Challenge 8000. 

Alan hit the headlines in 1997 when he sneezed on some chapati flour and slipped a disc when he was part way up a mountain. He waited in agony for a week before he could drag himself down the mountain to a height where a helicopter could reach him and take him to hospital. 

This year, after three weeks acclimatizing on Kangchenjunga, Alan set off at 3am from base camp at 5400m on Friday 26 May to make his summit attempt. He climbed, on his own, on Saturday and Sunday, above the cloud cover to a height of about 8000m before turning back on Monday in the face of very dangerous snow conditions. A lot of fresh snow had fallen in the previous days making the conditions very unstable and avalanches were crashing down the mountain all around him. 

"I was not confident that the conditions were safe enough," said Alan by satellite phone from base camp. "Even though I had climbed as high as 8000m I still made the decision to turn back. The snow could have gone at any time taking me with it." 

During the descent on Tuesday, he started to cross a large crevasse using a narrow snow bridge which looked solid and safe. "The snow bridge collapsed underneath me when I was part way across," Alan said. "There was solid ice making up the sides of the crevasse and somehow I managed to stop myself falling too far down. But as I fell I heard a metallic crack as my left elbow smashed into the side of the crevasse. At first I thought it was a piece of  equipment snapping, but I quickly realized I must have broken a bone in my elbow. I was very lucky that I was able to drag myself out of the crevasse; I don't know how I managed it, because I couldn't use my left arm at all." 

"The rest of the descent was very scary. I couldn't use my left arm for abseiling or to hold a pole and with the very deep snow to wade through it was very hard work. I was very relieved to make it back to base camp and now I am completely worn out." 

"Because I was climbing solo," continued Alan, "the feeling reminded me of when I was on my own climbing K2 in 1994. There were some very scary moments then as well. It took me three attempts to climb K2, so I am quite prepared to return next spring to Kangchenjunga to make another attempt. I felt very fit and well acclimatized for this attempt, but I have not had the weather window to give me the chance to reach the summit. I always say that no mountain is worth a life and returning safely from one of these Himalayan giants is a success. I shall return to make another attempt." 

Alan plans to rest today at base camp before starting the trek out from the mountain and the return to Kathmandu. The journey will consist of about a week of hard walking with the final leg a short flight back to Kathmandu. 

  • Kangchenjunga, Summited !

    Name of the Expedition: British Services Kangchenjunga Expedition
    Expedition Leader: Mr. Andrew Simon Hughes & Mr. Stephen Jackson, UK.
    No. of Team Members: 9
    Ascent Route: South East Ridge
    Starting Point: Camp IV
    Date of Summit: 21st May 2000
    Time of Summit: 07.00 A.M.

    Summiters, Date of Birth Occupation Home Town & Country
    1.   Mr. Adrian Cole (1964) Royal Marines Dunbartonshire, Scotland, UK
    2.   Mr. John Doyle (1965) Army Hereford, UK
    3.   Mr. Dorje Sherpa (45 yrs) HAP Lamabagar 3, Dolakha, Nepal
    4.   Mr. Pemba Norbu Sherpa (29 yrs) HAP Gaurishanker 1, Dolakha, Nepal

9 Men are credited with reaching the Summit of Kangchenjunga this Spring 2000:

1.) 5/13/2000 Mr. Adrian Cole (1964) Royal Marines Dunbartonshire, Scotland, UK

2.) 5/13/2000 Mr. John Doyle (1965) Army Hereford, UK

3.) 5/13/2000 Mr. Dorje Sherpa (45 yrs) HAP Lamabagar 3, Dolakha, Nepal

4.) 5/13/2000 Mr. Pemba Norbu Sherpa (29 yrs) HAP Gaurishanker 1, Dolakha, Nepal

5.) 5/19/200    Mr. Park Mu Taek (1968), Daegu City, Seoul, Korea.

6.) 5/19/2000 Mr. Hong Gil Um, Euijungbu City, Kyungki-do, Korea.

7.) 5/20/2000 Mr. Wanchuk Sherpa, (1965) Govt. Employee, Darjeeling, India 

8.) 5/20/2000 Mr Pashag Norbu 

9.) 5/20/2000 Mr. Dawa Wangchuk



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