8000m peaks - Everest - K2 - Kangchenjunga - Lhotse - Makalu - Cho-Oyu - Dhaulagiri - Manaslu - Nanga Parbat - Annapurna - Gasherbrum I - Broad Peak - Gasherbrum II - Shishapangma

Kangchenjunga is the third highest mountain in the world (after Mount Everest and K2) with an altitude of 8,586 meters (28,169 feet). Kangchenjunga is the biggest mountain in India (map). Kangchenjunga means "The Five Treasures of Snows", which refers to the five peaks it is comprised of. Four of the five peaks are over 8,450 meters high. Kangchenjunga is also called Sewalungma in Limbu language and is sacred in Kirant religion. Although Kangchenjunga is the official spelling adopted by Douglas Freshfield, A.M. Kellas, there are a number of alternative spellings which include Kangchen Dzö-nga, Khangchendzonga, Kanchenjanga, Kachendzonga, Kanchenjunga or Kangchanfanga. The region receives a large quantity of rainfall throughout the year. The best time to attempt a climb, therefore, is in April or May, before the monsoon season, or September, after the monsoons. The trek to base camp is regarded by many as the most beautiful walk in the world and Kangchenjunga is sometimes described as the most romatic mountain.

Three of the five peaks (main, central, and south) are on the border of North Sikkim district of Sikkim, India and Taplejung District of Nepal. Nepal is home to the Kangchenjunga Conservation Area Project run by the World Wildlife Fund, the sanctuary is also home to the Red Panda and other snow animals, birds and plants. India's side of Kangchenjunga also has a protected park.

From 1838 until 1849, it was believed to be the highest mountain in the world. Calculations made by the British Great Trigonometric Survey in 1849 came to the conclusion that Mount Everest was the highest. In 1899, British climber and explorer Douglas Freshfield and Italian photographer Vittorio Sella are the first to circumnavigate the mountain. Early, unsuccessful attempts to scale the mountain include a 1905 British expedition under Alistair Crowley, two German expeditions under Paul Bauer in 1929 and 1931 and an international expedition under George Dyhrenfurth in 1930.

Kangchenjunga was first climbed on May 25, 1955 by George Band and Joe Brown. The British expedition honored the beliefs of the Sikkimese, who hold the summit sacred, by stopping a few feet short of the actual summit. Expedition leader Charles Evans sent a telegram to the "Times”: “Summit of Kangchenjunga less five vertical feet reached on May 25. All well. ”Most successful summit parties since then have followed this tradition. The next two ascents were teams led respectively by India's Colonel N. Kumar in 1977, and by British climber Doug Scott in 1979. Ed Viesturs climbed Kangchenjunga on May 18, 1989. This was his first 8000m peak. On May 18 1998, Ginette Harrison became the first woman to summit Kangchenjunga. She climbed without oxygen. Wanda Rutkiewicz, who is regarded as the greatest women climber ever, died on Kangchenjunga on May 12 or 13th 1992 while attempting to ascent via the southwest face route.

There are two main routes leading to the summit, one being the one used by George Band and Joe Brown on the southwest face and secondly lots of variations on the north or northwest side. Both of these paths are in Nepal.


Kangchenjunga in the news:

Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner, Ralf Dujmovits, Hirotaka Takeuchi, Veikka Gustafsson, and Andrew Lock summit Kangchenjunga, May 15, 2006

Iñigo de Pineda lost on Kangchenjunga, May 28, 2007