"Kang-chen-zod-nga", meaning "Five Great Treasuries of the Snow", actually it has seven major summits. To the locals Kanchenjunga which stands at a height of 8585meters the third highest mountain in the world, is the abode of gods who bestow prosperity and goodwill on them and their lands, while to the climbers of this mountain the phrase "Five Great Treasuries of the Snow" takes on a slightly more ominous tone. The avalanches that Kanchenjunga throws down are said to be the largest anywhere!
Kanchanjunga peak and its immediate satellites take the form of a giant cross which straddles the borders of three countries - Nepal, Tibet and the once independent kingdom but now Indian state of Sikkim. By virtue of the massif’s almost total isolation from any other mountain group, precise definition of its boundaries is quite unnecessary. Until 1849 Kangchenjunga was thought to be the world’s highest mountain, but today’s accepted height of 8,586m ranks it third, after Everest and K2.
In addition Kanchanjunga peak, four subsidiary summits exceed 8000m, the most important being Kangchenjunga West, also known as Yalung Kang (8,505m). Of some twenty peaks exceeding 7,000m, the highest are Kambachen (7,903m), Jannu (7,710m), Jongsong (7,483m), Kabru (7,353m), Tent Peak (7,365m) and the Twins (7,350m). There are numerous impressive peaks over 6,000m.
Kanchanjunga peaks are highly glaciated and cradles five major glacial systems. Three of these, the Zemu, Talung, and Rathong, lie to the east of the massif and flow into Sikkim, eventually feeding the mighty Tista river. In Nepal, to the west, the Kangchenjunga and Yalung glaciers form the major sources of the Tamur river.
The intense glaciations are caused by the very high levels of precipitation to which Kangchenjunga is subjected. The combined effects of its considerable height and isolated location, south east of the main Himalayan chain, leaves it totally exposed to the full force of the advancing monsoon originating in the Bay of Bengal in early June.
Even when the monsoon finally withdraws towards the end of September, Kangchenjunga is slow to lose its veil of cloud and submit to the drier and more settled weather patterns of Autumn.
Since the locals worship the mountain, there is a tradition among mountaineers not to stand on the actual summit. All "successful" assaults have stopped just short of the summit honoring an old promise made by the leader of the first successful attempt in 1955 to the maharaja of Sikkim.
Kanchenjunga lies on the eastern border of Nepal providing a great chance to experience remoteness, spectacular mountain scenery, diverse flora and fauna and rich local culture, quite different to those found further west.
We begin the Kanchanjunga Base Camp Trekking with a flight from Kathmandu to Taplejung (Suketar). From Suketar the trek leads to Chauki through the villages of Mitlung, Ghunsa, Khambachen and Lhonak to Pangpema (5140 meters) which is also the Base Camp for expeditions attempting the North Face of Kanchenjunga 2 and the culmination of the first part of the trek.