Kanchenjunga Himalaya and Nepal, photo and description

Kanchenjunga is the highest mountain before the discovery of Everest

Most people think of Everest as a great and impregnable mountain. It is currently considered the highest in the world. However, the debate as to whether Everest is the most difficult to conquer is still ongoing. In addition to Everest, there are many other eight-thousanders in the world that are very difficult to climb. For example, before Mount Everest there is Kanchenjunga, which is considered one of the most dangerous among professional climbers. Before the discovery of Mount Everest, Kanchenjunga was the highest mountain in the world.

What is the height of Kanchenjunga

The mountain has several peaks:

  • Main;
  • South;
  • Central;
  • West;
  • Kangbachen.

The last peak does not reach 8,000 meters. The main one, however, is 8,856 meters high. Nepalis associate the mountain with treasures. Its name translates as “five treasures of the great snow.

What place does Kanchenjunga take in the list of the highest mountains in the world

Kanchenjunga has long lost its status. In addition to it to Everest, there is another mountain reaching 8,611 meters. This is Chogori, also known to the world as K2. It was discovered in 1856, and the world learned about Everest in 1849.

The opening of the first route to conquer Kanchenjunga did not take place until 1955. It took almost 100 years to successfully climb one of the highest mountains in the world. Now 11 routes have already been discovered.

What is the history of climbing Kanchenjunga

The history of the peak, considered the highest before Everest, is quite rich. The first expedition took place in 1905 and was led by the famous mystic Aleister Crowley. But his leadership was unsuccessful; only the 6200m mark was conquered. The second ascent was made only 24 years later. This time the Germans wanted to conquer Kanchenjunga, but managed to reach a mark of 7400 meters. They were caught by a heavy storm, which lasted for 5 days. To avoid disastrous consequences, the Germans had to turn back.

Literally a year later an international expedition was organized to the mountain, which also failed. The scientist Dierenfurt, who led it, managed to lead his people only up to 6400 meters. Note that the ascent took place from the side of the glacier. Another year later the Germans tried again to conquer one of the highest peaks in the world, but again the expedition ended in failure. The height of 7,700 meters was reached, there were serious difficulties, so the ridge was not overcome, but in fact the second discovery of the eastern spur took place (the first time it was discovered in 1929). This made it possible to start creating a detailed route map to the summit of Kanchenjunga.

The English expedition started in 1955. It was led by Charles Evans. The British managed to open the peak to the world. The next climb to the main summit was made by two more Englishmen, walking on the southwest side. After that, one of the highest mountains and long considered the highest mountain in the world, became incredibly popular. It was talked about as much as Everest. Further attempts to conquer its peak by expeditions from different countries continued. In 1973 the Japanese climbed the western peak of Kanchenjunga, and a year later the Poles did. The discovery of the main peak by the Indians was made in 1977. It was the first ascent from Sikkim (a state in the Himalayas).

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For the first time the second Soviet Himalayan Expedition managed to open the route, which allowed to make a traverse of four peaks. It consisted of 22 professional climbers. It was one of the biggest expeditions in the world. The route along the southwest ridge was opened by travelers from Slovenia. Having conquered the high mountain, they won the “golden ice-axe” award. Such an award is given only to the most outstanding climbers.

Unfortunately, it is much more difficult for women than men to conquer Kanchenjunga. Nepalis associate it with a woman who strongly opposes being climbed by other women. For example, in 1992 a Polish mountaineer, Wanda Rutkiewicz, who tried to make the ascent died tragically. She was one of the first women to climb Chogori, which is considered one of the most dangerous mountains in the world. British mountaineer Jeannette Harrison succeeded in conquering Kanchenjunga. She managed to climb Kanchenjunga unharmed.

What is the difficulty of climbing Kanchenjunga

As popular as Kanchenjunga is, it, along with Everest and Chogori, is considered one of the most dangerous mountains in the world. Kanchenjunga surpasses all other peaks in the world in terms of mortality, including Everest, for which there has been a decline in fatalities.

It is widely known of the deaths of several members of a Swiss expedition that ventured up the mountain on the first route. The biggest difficulties began for the climbers after 6,000 meters. As a result of the fall of one of the porters an avalanche began to fall. Several climbers died in the avalanche, while two survived by a miracle. To get the bodies of the victims had to equip another expedition. In honor of one of them, the place near the foot was named.

What knowledge should every conqueror of the Himalayas acquire

When travelers made the discovery of the Himalayan mountain system, many began to dream of conquering high mountains. Everest, Chogori, Kanchenjunga – this series could go on for a long time, because the Himalayas are the highest mountains in the world. The massif is divided into the southern (Pre-Himalayas and Lesser Himalayas) and the Greater Himalayas, considered the third stage. What are the characteristics of these stages?

First, the southern stage, which is considered the lowest, extends to a height of 1,000 meters. The second stage extends up to 4000 meters. The maximum height reaches 6,500 meters. Secondly, the third stage is characterized by strong dissection and a large chain of ridges. The southern spur of the Himalayas includes several high peaks. One of them is Dhaulagiri. The massif was discovered to the world in 1950. It was once considered the highest point on earth. The difficulty of conquering this peak is the need to overcome the dense forests. As travelers walk through the forests they lose a lot of energy needed to climb the peak (8,221 meters). Equally challenging is Annapurna, also called Kali. The word means “fearful.” Despite the fact that Annapurna was the first eight-thousander to be conquered, and the discovery occurred some 70 years ago, any experienced climber would find it difficult to say which mountain would be more difficult to conquer than this one. Its height is 8,091 meters, and it is especially difficult to climb the southern slopes, which are almost 1,000 meters lower, but much more dangerous because of rockfalls.

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Manaslu peak is also very dangerous. At an altitude of 8,156 meters, it may well be on a par with Everest and other difficult mountains to climb. It is the highest mountain in the Lamjung area. Manaslu is not far from Annapurna. It is best conquered in spring, when the weather is stable. At that time, the avalanche danger is low and there are no snowfalls.

What kind of preparations are necessary to climb the eight-thousanders?

It does not matter which eight-thousand meter mountain a climber decides to choose for himself. In the example of Everest you can clearly understand that climbing high mountains is a difficult task, but doable. Opening of many mountaineering schools all over the world promotes the sport, but one should not forget that it is one of the most dangerous to life. Everest is relatively easy to conquer, because on its slopes there are specially equipped for overnight stays. With Kanchenjunga, however, everything is different, because there are simply not so many camps on this high mountain. A person who wishes to climb an eight-thousand-metre peak should be “physically and mentally prepared”. To determine your level of preparation, you must visit at least one of the training camps in the Himalayas.

What knowledge will the climber need? First of all, you need to know how to use the equipment and “read the body’s signals.” Only those who have actually been through high-altitude climbs can accurately read the signals and understand when it is necessary to rest, replenish fluids, take food. Before climbing any eight-thousander should conquer at least Elbrus, Kilimanjaro or Lenin Peak. Only after that you can start thinking about Kanchenjunga or Everest.

The first expedition to Kanchenjunga was very long. Now there are several well developed routes, and which one to choose depends not only on the level of training, but also on weather conditions and the avalanche danger. Climbing the eight-thousanders usually requires about two months. Thus, you will have to devote a whole period of your life to preparing and climbing to the high peak.

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What training you need to take

It is very important to develop physical endurance. This can be done by swimming, cycling, rock climbing, cross-country skiing. Team sports should be avoided, and the same goes for any other sport involving injury. A person must be fully physically fit to be able to climb an eight-thousand-metre mountain.

What skills you will need

Having well studied the theory, you can proceed to practice. You must be able to walk on any surface in “crampons”, know and be able to calculate the number of hooks for climbing, be able to “read” the terrain. Mountaineering is a science that cannot be learned in one year.

What other tests you must be prepared for?

There are many things that ordinary people do not think about. But conquering any high mountain is, by definition, a real challenge to yourself. Being on the slopes of a peak for more than a month without practically washing is quite difficult for many people who are used to comfort. Typically, climbers use wet wipes and dry shampoos to wash their hair. Washing at respectable heights is an unforgivable mistake. One must be prepared for the fact that there simply will not be water in the camp for household needs. During ascending and descending one must be in good health, because cold will not simply complicate the ascent but make it extremely dangerous.

Of course, you will not be able to use wet wipes when the temperature drops to below zero. Therefore you should put them in a sleeping bag. Hot drink should be kept as close to the body as possible, pouring the liquid from the main container into a small one, which is hidden in the inside pocket. One must understand that taking a shower in the camp is also fraught with colds. As a rule, a man does not notice that his body at high altitude is in a fragile balance. If you want to wash, then you will need to warm up in a sleeping bag and drink hot tea for an hour. Going to the toilet is not easy either. You should choose the time when there are no strong winds.

Experienced climbers recommend to take means to improve digestion in order not to get into a curiosity situation at the most responsible moment, which could even cost you your life. In the end, patience can play a decisive role. If the eight-thousandth peak is popular, you can even expect good food at the mountain camps. This is true for Everest and other Himalayan peaks, for example. For the unpopular ones, you’ll have to stock up on extra weight, which is sure to burn off.


Kanchenjunga is a mountain range in the Himalayas, whose main peak, 8,586 meters above sea level, is the third highest eight-thousandth peak in the world. The mountain is located on the border between India and Nepal and is the highest point in India. For a long time the Kanchenjunga mountain range was considered the highest in the world, but it was not until 1856 that accurate measurements gave reason to consider it the third highest.

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Video: Kanchenjunga


The name of Mt. Kanchenjunga literally translates from Tibetan (Kang-chen-ze-nga) to mean “treasury of five great snows” or “five repositories of great snows.”

By “great snows” the locals mean five large glaciers stretching across the slopes of five separate peaks of Kanchenjunga.

The four peaks of the mountain range, Kanchenjunga Main, Kanchenjunga South, Kanchenjunga Middle (on the border of northern Sikkim and Nepal) and Kanchenjunga West (Yalung Kang) in Nepal’s Mechi zone, rise above 8,000 meters.

The Kanchenjunga Massif is composed of hard rocks: gneisses, granites, crystalline schists ranging in age from half a million to a billion years.

In the snows and glaciers of Kanchenjunga starts a major river of eastern Nepal – the Tamur River, known to all fans of extreme water tourism. It flows down the slopes of Kanchenjunga in the south and southwest directions.

Due to the large length of the Kanchenjunga, its slopes contain three natural zones: savannah and meadows of Terai-Duar, East Himalayan deciduous and coniferous forests (up to 3,650 m), and East Himalayan alpine meadows, shrubs and high mountain deserts (above 3,650 m). Fir, fir, juniper, and maple grow in the forests; at the foothills live the lesser panda, musk deer, and above – the snow leopard-irbis, the Himalayan tartar goat, and the leopard (Bengal) cat.

To protect the fragile nature of Kanchenjunga, several nature reserves and national parks have been created, the most famous of which is the Kanchenjunga Biosphere Reserve in the Indian state of Sikkim.

The people of the areas adjacent to Kanchenjunga revere this mountain range as sacred. The Lepcha, the indigenous people of the Indian state of Sikkim, have kept tales of Kanchenjunga for thousands of years. In their mythology, Kanchenjunga is not represented as an earthly mountain, but rather as a heavenly mountain where the souls of deceased people move. For the Lepcha, the peaks of Kanchenjunga are the birthplace of the first Himalayans, and the glaciers of Kanchenjunga, according to local legends, gave the god Tasheting material for the creation of the first man Furongthinga and the first woman Nazongnya.

Ancient lore warns that Kanchenjunga is not to be trifled with. As proof, there is a legend about how the ancestors of the Lepcha decided to build a tower at the foot of Kanchenjunga, the top of which would pierce the sky. They used clay pots, something the Lepcha had always had in plenty as building material. When the tower surpassed Kanchenjunga in height, people quarrelled and crushed the pots at the base of the tower, which collapsed, crushing many. The survivors scattered through the valleys of the Himalayas.

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The Kanchenjunga mountain range is located in the Eastern Himalayas, in the southern spur of the Main Himalayan Range, on the border of Nepal and the Indian state of Sikkim.

A mountain of high danger

The list of Kanchenjunga conquerors is short: the slopes of the mountain are extremely difficult to climb. Not all climbers who ventured on the journey, could return.

The history of Kanchenjunga studies goes back to the XIX century. The first sketches of the slopes of Kanchenjunga and the adjacent valleys were made by Tibetan explorer Rinzin Namgyal in the mid-1880s.

The first serious attempt to ascend Kanchenjunga was made in 1905 by an expedition led by the Englishman Ali-ster Crowley (1875-1947). The climbers reached a height of 6500 m, although Crowley himself, a man known for his eccentricity, claimed that his team had climbed to 7600 m. In any case, the expedition members could not reach the top of Kanchenjunga because of the serious danger of avalanche.

Over the next five decades at least six expedition teams set out on a journey up the slopes of Kanchenjunga. But the real breakthrough was made on May 25, 1955, by the British expedition of George Ban-dom and Joe Brown. They were the first to ascend Kanchenjunga, taking the route that Aleister Crowley had climbed half a century earlier. The expedition nearly died under a powerful icefall. They did not set foot on the highest point of the mountain, stopping just a few dozen meters below it to avoid disturbing the peace. This was the condition set by Tashi Namgyal (1893-1963), the chogyal (king) of Sikkim of the Namgyal dynasty, granting them permission to climb the mountain, sacred to Buddhists and Hindus. Since then all Kanchenjunga conquerors have followed this rule.

In 1989 the members of the Second Soviet Himalayan Expedition for the first time in history managed to cross four eight-thousandth peaks of Kanchenjunga. To pass the route they divided into two groups, each of which passed two peaks.

Nepalis know the old legend that Kanchenjunga has the character of a woman and, to get rid of rivals, takes the life of all mountaineers who try to climb her summit. In 1998 the first climber to climb Kanchenjunga and stay alive was Jeannette Harrison, a Briton. Thanks to her, Kanchenjunga lost the sad fame of the only eight-thousanders’ peak that had not been conquered by female climbers. Ginnett’s fate was tragic: a year and a half later she was killed while climbing the Himalayan peak of Dhaulagiri. Nevertheless, other climbers have followed her example: since 1998, three other women have managed to climb Kanchenjunga.

Due to the serious risks involved in climbing Kanchenjunga, this mountain massif has not yet been fully explored, leaving the possibility of unforeseen situations during the journey. The latest victims of the mysterious mountain are the five participants of an international expedition who disappeared on it during the ascent in 2013.

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