Saturday, February 21, 2009

Everest Region to KanchenjungaRegion: High altitude walk

In Sept 2008: I undertook an high altitude walk from Everest Region (Solu Khumbu) to Kanchenjunga Region with an intention to do as many high passes (above 5000m+/18000ft) as possible existing between these big Peaks.

Between the above stated region exists Five 8000m peaks: Cho Oyu 8201m (6th tallest), Everest 8850m(Tallest), Lhotse 8516m (4th tallest), Makalu (5th tallest) and Khangchendzonga 8586m(5th tallest peak).

I could get the panoramic view of my entire trek from Mera high camp,5800m when I visited this after the Renjo la Trek.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Reflections around Khangchendzonga

The Khangchendzonga circuit, which is circumnavigation of Kangchendzonga massif by trekking and climbing through the high passes as close to the mountain as possible was done only 4 times in the history.

Rinzing Namgyal Version (Oct 1884): Indian Survey pandit Rinzing Namgyal(Sikkim) has done the circuit starting from Darjeeling, Yusom, Dzongri and Kang la entering into Nepal. Then through Tseram and Gunsa villages he entered Kangchenjunga glacier (Nepalside of K 8586) . He then crossed Jansong la and entered Indian side of Lhonak valley. After this crossed Lachen valley, Gangtok and then arrived in Darjeeling.

Douglas Freshfield's Version (Sept 5 – Oct 24 1899)
"Round Kangchenjunga" legendary expedition of 1899(Sept5 - Oct 24) aimed at circumnavigating the Kanchenjunga massif as close as possible through high passes. This expedition started from Darjeeling and arrived at Gangtok passing through Kalimpong. Then they entered Zemu glacier via lachen valley. Attempted "Zemu gap 5900m" and "Nepal Gap" but aborted due to bad weather. After this crossing through "Thangchung la" and "Theu la" the expedition proceeded to "Jansong la 21,000ft" to cross over into Nepal. On the way they have also tried going towards "Chorten Nyma la" but went into valley to its south west. Douglas Fresh field's expedition had Indian Survey Pandit Mr. Rining Namgyal as the guide. Rinzing Namgyal has done the Kangchenjunga circuit (opposite direction) in Oct. 1884.

F. S. Smythe Version (1930)

In 1930(April - August), International Expedition under the leadership of Dyhrenfurth attempted summiting Kangchenjunga peak from North west Kangchenjunga glacier. They couldn't make it to summit and expedition was called off due to bad weather. After thisF.S. Smythe and some more members of the expedition have climbed Rumthang peak, Nepal Peak and Jansong peak which are close to Kangchenjunga massif. They have crossed Jansong la entered into Sikkim and followed LAchen, Gangtok, Kalimpong route to reach Darjeeling. They reached Kanchenjunga gacier of Nepal trekking via Darjeeling - Pemayangtse - Yuksom - Dzongri - Kangla - Tseram - Gunsa - Pangpema (Kangchenjunga base camp)

Lhatoo Dorjee Version (Nov 1992)

In 1992, A Calcutta expedition (Parbhat Abhiyatri Sangh of A.B.P group) under the leadership of Lhatoo Dorjee (HMI Darjeeling, Instructor) have done part of this circuit. This expedition took the route starting the trek from Yuksom - Dzongri - Kangla - Tseram - Gunsa - Pangpema - Jansongla 21,000ft - Lhonak valley (Indian side) - Lungnak la - before arriving at Thanggu, a place in North Sikkim. From there they reached Darjeeling by taking a vehicle. They travelled by vehicles to arrive in Yuksom to start the expedition.

My Verison
A New Route and Real K-Circuit

Part 1: (Start) Tonglu – Sandakphu – Chewa Bhanjyang – Kang la (5200m) – Dzongri – Guicha la (4940m)
Part 2: Guicha la – Tolung Chu – Sakyong – Tolung Gumpa – Kishong la (5200m) – Yaktang (Zemusamdang)
Part 3: Yaktang – Thangchung la (5600m) – Theu la (5300m) – Langpo – Jansong glacier – Jansong la
Part 4: Jansong la (6147m) – Pagpema – Kangbachen – Gunsa – Lapsong la (5200m) – Rathong la (5600m) – Dzongri – Yuksom – Gangtok (Finish)

Dairy: I had first traveled to Sikkim in 2004, the lush verdant landscape, snow capped peaks offering such a panoramic view, the numerous waterfalls, rich abundance of vegetation has captivated my heart for eternity. When I trekked to Guicha la in 2005 and saw the glaciers and neighboring peaks of Kangchendzonga I awestruck. I wondered if I can venture in to this part of the country more. I didn’t know the opportunity would come for me in a bigger way not very far away from the day I reflected it.
In 2008, I was invited by Himalayan club, Kolkata to talk about my High Altitude traverse of 4-Dhams in Garhwal Himalayas. After the talk I was having dinner with the Kolkata Chapter head, Mr. Meher Mehta, Priyadarshi (Hon. Secy), and other senior members including Mr. Debu daa (Nilkant Summiter, 2007). During these discussions, Offhandedly Mr. Meher Mehta suggested me that – “Malli, You should attempt Round Khanchendzonga”. I just took the word and left it there. I got busy with my life later and was involved with other things.. As the summer months came offing, I started gazing for another Himalayan venture. Mean while, I got an opportunity to do a corporate leadership trek along with Mr. Jayshanker K during April/May first week.
While planning for this expedition, I thought I would take advantage of my presence in Sikkim and do some treks of 14 days may be going to Mangan via Guichala which is a bit tricky proposition. As I started researching about this looking at the maps my interest became bigger and I saw myself evolving towards attempting Round Kangchendzonga trek. I didn’t know then, that I would actually take up what Mr. Meher Mehta has suggested. Research:
First I had only very rudimentary map of Sikkim – Nepal outline given in Trekking in Indian Himalayas & Bhutan. With the just the basic inputs of this map I made an outline of my round Kanchenjunga trek. I started my research from then on. I learnt that Lhatoo Dorjee (HMI Instructor) and Shyamal Sakar (Parbhat Abhiyatri Sangha, Calcutta) have done what they called “Round Khanchendzonga trek”. After doing the Corporate Dzongri trek I paid a visit to Darjeeling and met Mr.Lhatoo Dorjee and learnt that their version of “Round Kangchendzonga Trek” .

He advocated me that this expedition is going to be tougher than Everest! It’s just a long trek to me.

After that meeting, I went to HMI and met the Principal Col. Rana to find out if there were any maps or information regarding Sikkim Himalaya was available. His answer was no. I visited library and could take a Xerox copy of Lhatoo Dorjee expedition published in Himalayan Journal Vol 52. Later I took the Xerox copy of a good tourist map of Sikkim. I later spoke to Mr. Shyamal Sarker, the other member with Lhatoo Dorjee expedition and paid a visit to Calcutta to meet and learn more. He was in thick of his “Nanda Devi East Expedition”. He was very kind and shared all the details very patiently. I later took a copy of Swiss contour map of Sikkim. This is the first good map which has helped me understand better about the terrain and all the peaks and passes located around this “Round Kangchendzonga massif”. I was still planning considering support team of experienced Sherpa guides and porters and may be yaks.
In between I traveled to Gangtok to meet Col. Anil Kapoor VSM, another gentleman who was kind to understand my passion and extended unbridled support to my “Round Kangchendzonga Circuit”. I purchased the books Douglas Freshfield’s 1899 “Round Kangchendzonga”, F.S. Smythe’s 1930 “Kangchendzonga Adventure”. Round Kangchenjunga further enhanced my imagination and planning. I kept playing around the route in my mind visualizing the main and subsidiary glaciers surrounding Kangchendzonga massif.
As I poured myself more into the maps, I reflected more on the idea of undertaking whole of it alone with out guide/porter. I have also designed my own “Round Kangchendzonga Circuit”, which has never been undertaken. It’s a very impressive route (In theory for now) round Kangchendzonga.

My K Circuit Version
I would want to start from Tonglu, 10,074ft and point on Singalila ridge along Sandakphu trek. This Indo-Nepal bordering village offers excellent views of Kangchendzonga and neighbouring peaks it located in Nepal and India. I would follow the ridge and entering into Sikkim at chewabhanjyang. From here I proceed further north to Kangla and enter into Dzongri valley to approach to Guicha la. Then enter Talung glacier and explore the valleys to the north and enter into Zemu glacier. From Zemu valley do T1, T2 passes and enter Lhonak galcier for crossing Jansong la and reach Pangpema, Kanchenjunga BC in Nepal. Then Pangpema - Gunsa - Kangla - Dzongri - Yuksom.