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<< Indian Himalayas << About Himalayas >> << Peaks & Passes >> << Kangchenjunga >>

Kangchenjunga

Location Eastern Himalayas, Sikkim-Nepal Border
Altitude 8,586m (28,169 feet)
Importance Third Highest Peak of The World
Best Trek Season April To October

Kangchenjunga is the third highest mountain in the world. From 1838 until 1849, it was believed to be the highest. It is an enormous mountain mass, and many satellite peaks rise from its narrow icy ridges. It is located on the border of Nepal and Sikkim, just 46 miles northwest of Darjeeling. It is the most easterly of the great 8,000 meter peaks of the Himalaya. The remote area of Kangchenjunga in far-eastern Nepal sees very few trekkers and has no teahouses or inns. This area offers the cultural diversity of Rai, Limbu, Chhetri and Brahmin villagers, with the higher regions inhabited by a people of Tibeto-Mongoloid ancestry. This trek also has great natural history interest, with ecological zones from the subtropics to glacial wilderness. We go into spectacular high valleys encircled by high peaks, reaching North Base Camp by the mighty Kangchenjunga Glacier.

As inspiring as Kangchenjunga's beauty is that at least the first three parties to ascend the mountain never attempted the final few feet to the summit out of voluntary respect for the Sikkimese, who consider the summit sacred. The successful British expedition of 1955 set the standard by stopping a few feet short of the actual summit, in honor of the local religion. The next two ascents were teams led respectively by India's Colonel N. Kumar in 1977, and by British climber Doug Scott in 1979. These parties also honored the tradition.

Various origins of the name Kangchenjunga have been debated, but it is often translated as Five Treasuries of the Great Snow, a reference to the five high peaks that rise from the surrounding glaciers.

Permit & Restrictions

Though foreigners need to obtain a permit to visit Sikkim, getting one is a mere formality. The easiest way is to request one when applying for your Indian visa. They are usually valid for two weeks from entry into the state, which allows enough time to visit the towns and villages at a fairly leisurely pace but places constraints on time if trekking.

The permit covers the main southern belt from Gangtok across to Pemayangtse. Certain area in central Sikkim and the sensitive border regions with Tibet are completely off limits to foreigners. Other parts of Sikkim are open for Tourism but not included in the regions covered by your permit. For those areas you require an endorsement of your permit, a simple quick and free service which is provided at the Tourist Information Office in Gangtok. Visa extensions and trekking permits for certain regions can also be obtained in Gangtok. Certain restricted areas, like Changu Lake, Yumthang and Dzongri, only allow foreigners in groups, accompanied by representatives of approved travel agents.

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