Kangchenjunga sometimes spelled Kanchenjunga or Kinchinjunga is the third highest mountain in the world, with an elevation of 8,586 meters (28,169 feet).
Kangchenjunga is the highest mountain in India and second highest in Nepal (after Mt. Everest).
Mount Kangchenjunga lies about 125 kilometers (78 miles) east-south-east of Mount Everest.
The name Kangchenjunga translates “Five Treasures of Snow,” referring to Kangchenjunga’s five peaks. The Tibetan words are: Kang (Snow) chen (Big) dzö (Treasury) nga (Five).
Three of the five peaks – Main, Central and South – are on the border between North Sikkim and Nepal. Two peaks are in Nepal’s Taplejung District.
Kangchenjunga Main: 8,586 meters (28,169 feet); 3,922 meters (12,867 feet) of prominence
Kangchenjunga West: 8,505 meters (27,904 feet); 135 meters (443 feet) of prominence
Kangchenjunga Central: 27,828 feet (8,482 meters); 32 meters (105 feet) of prominence
Kangchenjunga South: 8,494 meters (27,867 feet); 119 meters (390 feet) of prominence
Kangbachen: 7,903 meters (25,928 feet); 103 meters (337 feet) of prominence
The Kangchenjunga is the second least climbed peak of the 14 peaks over 8,000 meters (26,247 feet). In fact the Annapurna is the only 8,000 meters peak which has been less climbed than the Kangchenjunga.
Until 1852, Kangchenjunga was assumed to be the highest mountain in the world, but calculations made by the British Great Trigonometric Survey in 1849 came to the conclusion that Mount Everest (known as Peak XV at the time) was the highest peak of the world.
In 1905, a party headed by the British occultist Aleister Crowley was the first attempt at climbing the mountain. Aleister Crowley had been part of the team attempting the 1902 ascent of K2. The expedition climbed to 21,300 feet (6,500 meters) on August 31 when they retreated because of avalanche danger. The following day, September 1, three team members climbed higher, possibly Crowley thought to “approximately 25,000 feet (7,600 m),” although the height was unsubstantiated. Later that day Alexi Pache, one of the three climbers, was killed in an avalanche along with three porters.
Kangchenjunga was first climbed on 25 May 1955 by Joe Brown and George Band, who were part of a British expedition. They stopped short of the summit as per the promise given to the Chogyal that the top of the mountain would remain inviolate. Every climber or climbing group that has reached the summit has followed this tradition. Other members of this expedition included John Angelo Jackson and Tom Mackinon. [Photo below: Kangchenjunga First Ascent – George Band Next To The Untrodden Kangchenjunga Summit May 25, 1955]
In 1977, the second ascent, by an Indian Army team led by Colonel Narendra Kumar. They completed the northeast spur, the difficult ridge that defeated German expeditions in 1929 and 1931.
In 1979, the third ascent, on 16 May, and the first without oxygen, by Doug Scott, Peter Boardman and Joe Tasker establishing a new route on the North Ridge.
In 1983 Pierre Beghin made the first solo ascent. It was accomplished without the use of supplemental oxygen.
In 1998 Ginette Harrison became the first woman to reach Kangchenjunga’s summit.
There are four climbing routes to reach the summit of Kangchenjunga, three of which are in Nepal from the southwest, northwest and northeast, and one from northeastern Sikkim in India.
Kangchenjunga does not have an “easy” route as the threat of avalanche is high. Since it is in the eastern Himalaya it receives the brunt of the monsoon moisture.
Despite improved climbing gear the fatality rate of climbers attempting to summit Kanchenjunga is high. Since the 1990s, more than 20% of people died while climbing Kanchenjunga’s main peak.
Khangchendzonga National Park is a National Park and a Biosphere reserve located in Sikkim, India. It was inscribed to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list on July 17, 2016.
The summit is considered sacred by the people of Sikkim. Early expeditions that climbed the mountain stopped a few feet from the top to respect this belief.
The area around Kangchenjunga is said to be home to a mountain deity, called Dzö-nga or “Kangchenjunga Demon“, a type of yeti or rakshasa. A British geological expedition in 1925 spotted a bipedal creature which they asked the locals about, who referred to it as the “Kangchenjunga Demon”.
For generations, there have been legends recounted by the inhabitants of the areas surrounding Mount
Kanchenjunga, both in Sikkim and in Nepal, that there is a valley of immortality hidden on its slopes. In Tibetan, this valley is known as Beyul Demoshong. In 1962 a Tibetan Lama by the name of Tulshuk Lingpa led over 300 followers into the high snow slopes of Kanchenjunga to ‘open the way’ to Beyul Demoshong.
In 1999, official James Bond author Raymond Benson published High Time to Kill. In this story, a microdot containing a secret formula for aviation technology is stolen by a society called the Union. During their escape, their plane crashes on the slopes of Kangchenjunga and James Bond becomes part of a climbing expedition in order to retrieve the formula.