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Kangchenjunga History
 


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 13th 1992.

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 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 retreat.

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 South Face.

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 May 31.

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 anticipated.

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 Yalung Kang.

1986: The first Winter ascent of the main summit by Poles Jerzy Kukuczka and Krzysztof Wielicki on January 11.

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 alpine-style.

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.

 





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