Kanchenjunga Beckons

*   Third Highest Peak in the world

*   One of the difficult peaks to climb

*   Only eight thousand meters mountain that offers a view from nearby towns and plains

This page is dedicated to the souls

resting on the lap of Kanchenjunga in their exploration endeavour

bhuniazone respectfully salutes

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Kanchenjunga South-West face

Himalaya The Great Mountain Range:

Himalaya extends from Hidukush in the west to Brahmaputra in the east. Its length is 1500 miles straight along the air. Explorer Sidney Burad published a map in 1907. He subdivided the whole range into 4 regions:

1.      Punjab Himalaya (Shivalik)

2.      Kumayun Himalaya

3.      Nepal Himalaya

4.      Assam Himalaya

Afterwards a portion of the Nepal Himalaya was renamed as a separate zone as:

5.      Sikkim Himalaya

Kanchanjunga is situated in this Sikkim Himalaya.

Nepal forms its West boundary and Sikkim is at the west.

Kanchenjunga is situated at the confluence of four ridges. Starting from the top, the East Ridge drops into the Jemu gap. More easts are Simvo massive and Siniolchu. The peaks on the West ridge are Janu and kang –Ba -Chen etc. the North ridge is having many peaks like Twin peak, Nepal Peak, Tent peak etc. The South ridge extends 60 Kilometers southwards as Singalila Ridge upto Manebhanjan and Dhotrey. Talung (23,082 ft.), Kabru (24,002 ft.) etc. are the peaks on this ridge.

Kanchenjunga from Chitrey


Kanchenjunga Nomenclature:

The mountain is situated in Sikkim. The Lepcha community of Sikkim named it as Kong –Lo – Chu. Some-where it is named as King –Chung –Jung –Bu.

Lepcha community of Sikkim worships the peak as their God. Every year in the third moon month they celebrate the festival of adoration. In front of their houses they make a replica of the mountain by using nine stone pieces and idolise it. Mask dance is a ritual in this festival. They believe that the blessings of the Himalaya that is the mountain Kong –Lo –Chu can only keep them healthy and wealthy.

The Sikkimese people have maintained the sanctity of their belief all through out the passage of time. The king of Sikkim while permitting any expedition in the past has always imposed a condition that the summiteers must not step the top. The days of the Kings are no more. Being a part of democratic India, there is Sikkim government now a day. However the expeditionary with a holy spirit in their mind have always religiously respected the ‘verdict of the king’. Till date a total of195 summiteers have resorted down leaving 6 feet of height to the top that is about 20 feet in length as a gratitude to the belief of the surrounding community whose permission and whole-hearted support can only run an expedition in line.

Tibet does not form any boundary of Kanchenjunga but it is only 15 Kilometers apart. In Tibetan language the peak is named as “Kang – Chen – Dzo -Nga. It means “Five treasuries of the great snow”. The most popular and the modern name “Kanchenjunga” has been derived from this Tibetan pronunciation.

The five peaks those act as the treasurers of the great snow are:

1.      Kanchenjunga south

8470 Meters

2.      Kanchenjunga central

8482 Meters

3.      Kanchenjunga main

8586 Meters

4.      Kanchenjunga west

Another name, Yalung -kang

8505 Meters

5.      Kang -Ba -Chen

7903 Meters

In 1845 Michael Hennessy of Survey of India first started identifying the Himalayan peaks by Roman number. The numbering started from the east end of the Himalayan range. Unknown Kanchenjunga was numbered as Peak XIII and Everest as Peak XV. Afterwards Surveyor General Montgomery sent Pundit explorer Hariram to find out and recommend any local name for this peak. Accordingly “Kanchenjunga” immersed out as the final choice.

Deity of Kanchenjunga as per Lepcha mythology

Kanchenjunga from Green lake

Base Camp on Jemu glacier

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Kanchenjunga from Tumbling

Speciality of Kanchenjunga:

Kanchenjunga is outside the main Himalayan ridge. It is not a high point on a continuous mountain ridge. Instead it is the top crown in the middle of five peaks. ‘Kanchenjunga-main’ is one in those five.

Vital Statistics:


8586 Meters. 28,169 feet.


27* 42’ 9” North


88* 09’ 25” East

Third highest peak in the world

1st is Everest 29,002 feet and 2nd is K-2, 28,250 feet

Difficult Peak:

Kanchenjunga is a very difficult peak to climb. In the group of more than 8000 meters high peaks, Nanga-parbat is regarded as the most difficult due to its character of sudden worsening of the weather condition. Kanchenjunga is respected to be very difficult due to the hard winds on its heights. The contour of the faces is also unfriendly to climb.

Douglas Freshfield made a circular tour around Kanchenjunga in 1899 at his 54 years of age and wrote a book “Round Kanchenjunga”, Excerpt from the book says “The whole face of the mountain, might be imagined to have been constructed by the Demon of Kanchenjunga for the express purpose of defense against human assault, so skillfully is each comparatively weak spot raked by the ice and snow batteries.”

Sir John Hunt was the leader of the first successful expedition to Everest in 1953. He was asked after his success:

What next?

“Kanchenjunga” was the answer.

His feelings about the mountain was “There is no doubt that those who first climb Kanchenjunga will achieve the greatest feat in mountaineering, for it is a mountain which combines in its defense not only the severe handicaps of wind, weather and very high altitude, but technical climbing problems and objective dangers of an order ever higher than those we encountered on Everest.”

Dr. Charles Evans was the leader of the first successful expedition to Kanchenjunga in 1955. He published his book “Kanchenjunga – the un-trodden peak” on this expedition in 1956. Mr. Cooke reviewed the book as follows, “This book is the official account of one of the greatest mountaineering achievements in the history of climbing…..the summit was almost regarded as impregnable, but Evans and his colleagues have dispelled that idea at one master stroke; they surmounted all the difficulties and left only the final white cone of snow un-trodden.”

Kanchenjunga Glacier

Kanchenjunga from Sandakphu

Kanchenjunga North-West face

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First Successful Expedition:



Date of 1st Climb

25th May

Time of 1st Climb

3.15 PM (They started the final climb at 8.15 AM)

They did not climb the final 6 feet height that was at a distance of 20 feet.

Ist Summiteers

George Band & Joe Brown

Date of 2nd Climb

26th May

Time of 2nd Climb

12.15 PM (They started the final climb at 8.15 AM

2nd Summiteers

Norman Hardi & Tony Streather

The Leader: Dr. Charles Evans (36 Years). He was a surgeon at Liverpool. He was the Dy. Leader of the 1st successful expedition to Everest in 1953. He was in the 1st assault team of the 1953 Everest expedition. In 26th May 1953 the 1st assault team Charles Evans and Tom Bordilon climbed up to 28,742 feet of the south summit of Everest. The oxygen cylinder did not function properly and so they had to retread leaving behind 293 feet height to reach the top of the world. Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgey succeeded on 29th May in the same expedition.

Some interesting events of the first successful expedition:

3rd camp was not a tent. It was prepared by cutting a cave on the ice. That was to avoid the hard wind on the Kanchenjunga surface.

20 open circuit and 2 closed circuit oxygen cylinders were used.

5th camp was established at a height of 25,000 feet. The final assault camp was 6th camp at a height of 27,000 feet.

It regularly took two hours time to prepare water by boiling ice.

George Band once removed his outer gloves and took 15 seconds to set the oxygen valve. His inner silken gloves were on. But the 15 seconds exposure was enough for the biting cold to develop blisters on his hand.

Members of the expedition team:

1.     Dr. Charles Evans (36 Years) Leader

2.     Norman Hardi (30 Years) Dy. Leader. He was from New Zeeland

3.     George Band (26 Years)

4.     Neil Mather (26 Years)

5.     Joe Brown (24 Years)

6.     Dr. John Cleg (29 Years) Medical Officer

7.     Tony Streather (29 Years)

8.     John Jackson (34 Years)

9.     Tom Makinon (42 Years)

Sponsor of the expedition:

1.     Alpine Club

2.     Royal Geographical Society

3.     Duke of Edinburgh

Description of the 1st successful expedition:

The March started on 14th march 1955 from Rangeet Tea Estate at Darjeeling.

There were 319 porters and 36 High Altitude Porters (HAP who will act as porter above the base camp). Baggage weight was 6 Tons.

The team progressed along the route as follows:

Manebhanjan - Tonglu - Sandakphu - Falut - Mehley - Khewang - Yamfodin - Tserum - Ramtsere.

They climbed along the South West face.

Sherpa Pemi Dorji died in cerebral thrombosis in this expedition. No accidental death happened in this expedition.

Dr. Charles Evans. The leader of the first successful expedition to Kanchenjunga in 1955

George Band. First summiteers to Kanchenjunga in 1955

Major Premchand. First Indian summiteers in 1977

George Band and Col. Narindar Kumar. Col. Kumar was the leader of the first successful Indian expedition to Kanchenjunga in 1977

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Indian Expeditions to Kanchenjunga:







Summit date



Indian Air Force Exploration

Group Captain A J S Grewal

Talung glacier -Khumbu

Exploration with map and sketches done


Indian Air Force Expedition

Col. Narindar Kumar

Jemu Glacier -North east spur


31 / 05 / 77

1.       Maj. Premchand

2.       Nayek Nima Dorji


Indian Army Assam Rifles


Maj. Gen. Premlal Kukrety

Jemu Glacier -North East spur


25 / 05 / 87

1. Fu Dorji (2)

2. Fu Fu Bhutia

3. Nayek Chorten Shering

31 / 05 / 87

1. Nayek Chandar Singh

2. Lance Nayek Bhawan Singh

3. Rifleman Subhas Linge


Non Governmental

Basant Limaye

Yalung Glacier -South West face




Indo Japan Combined Expedition

1.       Hukum Singh

2.       Yusio Ogata

Jemu Glacier -North east spur


24 / 05 / 91

1.    Kanaiya Lal

2.    3 Japaneese

31 / 05 / 91

1.       Sunil Duttasharma

2.       Tsewang Smanla


India Ukraine Combined Non Governmental Expedition

1.       Prajapati Bodhane

2.       Vadim Srridenko

Jemu Glacier -North east spur


23 / 05 / 95

5 Ukranian

26 / 05 / 93

3 Ukranian


Indo Tibet Border Police

Sunil Dattasharma

Yalung Glacier -South West face


20/05 /00

1.       Wanchuk sherpa

2.       Pasang Norbu

3.       Dawa Wanchuk (Nepal)


India Nepal Combined Army Expedition

Lt. Col. S C Sharma

Yalung Glacier -South West face


10/10 / 04

1.       Maj. S S Chauhan

2.       Subedar Mahindar Singh

3.       Subedar C N Bodh

4.       Subedar Nil Chand

5.       Nayek Surindar Singh

6.       Nayaek Ashok Kumar

7.       Pemba Rinji Sherpa (Nepal)

8.       Damai Chiri Sherpa (Nepal)

9.       Dawa Wajung Sherpa

10.   Nima Wangdaki Sherpa (Nepal)

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Foreign Expeditions to Kanchenjunga:







Summit date




Sir Joseph Hooker

Tseram -Singalila ridge - Darjeeling

Maps and Sketches done by him.


Kabru Expedition

W W Graham

Jongri - Gocha La - Yalung glacier

Claimed to climb the peak but later on it was analysed to find out that he had actually climbed a hihest point






Retrieved from 100 ft below Kabru



C R Cooke


Climbed Kabru




Round Kanchenjunga Exploration

Douglas Freshfield

Jemu Glacier - Green Lake- Thiu La -Lonak - Jongsong La - Pangpema - Kang Ba Chen  Ghunsa  Mirgin La  Tseram - Kang La - Jongri - Guicha La - Rangeet - Darjeeling

Geologist Edmund Garwood, Photographer Vittorio Sella accompanied him.

1907 to 1921

Kanchenjunga Expedition

Dr. Alexander Kelas


Reached the last summit camp



Aeister Crowley

Singalila ridge

M. Pache and 3 porters died in an accident on yalung glacier.



C G Crawford

Yalung glacier




Paul Bauer

Jemu gap - South east ridge

Reached 24,250 ft. height


German British Swiss

Prof. G. O. Dyhrenfurth

South west face

Avalanche killed Sherpa Chetan



Paul Bauer


Avalanch killed Herman Schaller and Sherpa Pashang. Bawar could reach 24,150 ft.


German Swiss






C R Cooke

John Hunt





Gilmour lewes

George Fray


Fray died in an accident to climb a peak near Kanchenjunga. The peak is now famous as Fray peak.



J W R Kempe





Dr. Charls Evans

South west face


25 / 05 / 55

1.       George Band

2.       Joe Brown

26 / 05 / 55

1.       Norman Hardi

2.       Tony Streather



Doug Scott

North face


4 People climbed

The information and the historical pictures: Courtesy ‘Jara Jajabar’ Bengali magazine

The Essay and Photographs by Dr. J. Bhunia


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