Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Kanchenjunga Expedition 2013


My first view of Mt. Kanchenjunga

    Mount Kanchenjunga is the Third highest mountain in the world with it's height 8586m. It lies in the eastern part part of Nepal sharing its border with India. It lies with the position of :Latitude:27○ 44’09” and Longitude: 88○09’25’’. It was first climbed on 25th May 1955 by Christopher Band from UK via South West Face



How Kanchenjunga Expedition started

      I had 3 friends who wanted to try Kanchenjunga.  I also had the dream of climbing Kanchenjunga in my mind but it was not plan for 2013. After we discussed on it, I finalized to go Kanchenjunga with them. So I also carried it on facebook and other social media. Ms. Parvaneh Kazemi from Iran also made her plan to join us in Kanchenjunga. Her plan was to Annapurna previously. Mr. Abdul Mohammad Mohit from Bangladesh also thought of it and gave me the word of joining the expedition. We had one more friend from Iran wanting to climb Makalu (8463m). We tried to convenience him many times and finally he was agreed to join us in Kanchenjunga. He is Mr. Mohammadrezashahram Shahlaei (Reza) who is the only foreign climber who made the summit from our agency with me.
  At the end of February, one of the friends from the French team got injured and they all 3 cancelled the expedition. I feel so bad hearing from them because it was almost the last period of the expedition. I was worried what to do and what not to do..... Even I didn't lose my hope and continued to work on it because I had other 3 more foreign friends and other Sherpa.
     Finally our two Iranian friends came to Kathmandu and they left from here on 8th April to Biratnagar and to Philim on the same day with 2 Sherpas and 3 cooking staffs led by Nima Gyalzen Sherpa. But another friend, Mr Mohit was stuck because he was not confirmed with his sponsors. So I had to wait for him till 19th of April. We left Kathmandu on 21st of April to Bhadrapur and then drove to Philim on the same day. the next day, I had to search ticket to go till Khandenba. There was too much rain on 21st April night so there was no any bus to khandenba. I had no option beside reserving big bus to me and my friend from Bangladesh. First I tried to get small jeep but that was till Phidim only. Even though we went till there in a hope to find another from there. After driving 3 hrs from there, we reached Phidim. But I didn't find any vehicle to go Khandenba from there. So I talked with a young boy saying I give him Rs1000/- if he can manage vehicle to Khandenba and he managed us a jeep to go khandenba. We drove from there and finally reached at Khandenba in the raining evening. We stayed in a small local lodge and waited for the owner to get us a porter to go base camp. She arranged the porter but he was till Yamphuddin only. Next day we went to Khebang and reached yamphuddin spending a night at Khebang. I fell happy to be in Yamphuddin as I reached Sherpa village and we stayed at Chhering Sherpa's lodge. I took 2 Thongpa (Sherpa traditional alcohol which is made from barley and drunk using pipe) with the owner of the lodge. I gave all the responsibility of managing the porter and food supply to base camp to him as he works there with these things. Our next day's journey was to reach Toronding (Tortong) changing porter from there. The day was quiet long and was hard too. I was bored walking very long steeply way till LasyaBanjang and again way straight down till Tortong. I was tired and was very worried about the porter and my friend. When I reached Tortong, I first took a bottle of beer and took rest inside the small kitchen. It was so tiring day for us. The next day too we just stepped 2 camps as one. From Torong, we went directly to Ramche which was quiet easy day for us. Ramche is the last point with lodge. There is only one small teahouse with a dormitory styled two rooms.
The small dormitory styled house

       We woke up early in the morning and left Ramche at 8am. We wanted to go directly to base camp from there. As we touched the glacier, my friend/client slowed down as it was difficult for him to move. So we continued slowly and slowly. It took us whole the day to reach the middle camp. I didn't expect that the glacier is so long. We had to spend a night at middle camp anyway. There came some porters who were also started thinking to reach base camp on the same day. They didn't have any food and mattress. We shared our food and mattress with them. The next morning we boiled tea and I gave it to the porters and took ourselves too. We started to walk from there. But the way was neither easy nor short. I had a satellite phone so I tried to contact with our crew at the base camp. I told to send a kitchen boy with some food to eat and help my client to carry his bag to base camp.  Nima Gyalje Sherpa sent one of the kitchen boy with sandwiches and juice. He helped to take few of my goods and I was feeling easier to walk with the client slowly too. After walking for 7hrs, we reached the base camp on 28th April 2013. On the same day, all our other team came back from camp-2 sleeping there. We had a nice dinner together.
Kanchenjunga Base camp

    On 29th April, the day was clear and I took shower and washed my stinking cloths. I took complete rest for 2days and I went to camp-II directly from base camp and came back. The next day I again took rest and went to camp-II thinking to set camp-III and IV together but the weather was worsen and there was too much wind. So we had to decent back to base camp. Staying for 2 days more, we directly went making summit plan from our team. As our clients were already acclimatized and the friend who went with me also already slept at camp-II. So I was sure about safe climbing. On 7th May, we left base camp in a hope for making summit on 11th May. We directly went to camp-II and spent a night there. Next day we went to camp-III with heavy goods. It was hard day for us. We reached at camp-III at around 4pm in the evening only. On 9th May we left our clients at camp-III and went to fix a rope to camp-IV. It was hard day for us because we were only 3 sherpas and all of us were unknown with the route and had to find all the way to camp-IV.
We got good camping place at 7300m which was our big mistake.
We found 6 coils of Korean fix rope there. so we though this might be last camp and we also deposited our equipment there and got back to camp-III. Next day we went to camp-IV and tried that night. We tried on the first night but we made mistake again. I could see Rimo from the camp so I tried to divert the way which was big mistake. we walked around one hour and my friend from Bangladesh decided to go back as he was feeling too cold and was worried because of no any fix line. We climbed till 7600m and decided to turn back as we were sure that we started late. We came back to camp-IV and took rest. On the 11th May night, the Korean team tried at around 6pm but they got back because of bad weather. We wanted to start at around 8pm from same camp but had to wait for the wind to stop. Finally at around 10pm, it stopped but not completely. One Chinese lady with her sherpa followed us. I opened all the way till we reached 8000m. Then Nima started to break the trial till 8200m. When we reached 8200m, it was already 2pm which forced us to return back. We cannot imagine of reaching the summit on time. so we decided to go back. we reached the last camp while getting dark. The next day, we came back to base camp straight leaving all our equipment at camp-IV for our next try again.
 We took complete rest and there was meeting at base camp between all the teams. As per weather report, we all decided to go summit on 19th night. We formed a team of 6 climbing sherpa including myself from our team. some team promised to give money and some promised to take rope and snow bars for fixing the route which they didn't fulfill at the end. On the summit night, there were only 4 climbing sherpa including myself for fixing the line. 2 of them also stayed back after 7600m so only Late Bipash Gurung and I fixed all the remaining rope till 8200m. Those two team who promised to take 2-2 coils of 200m rope and snowbar at the meeting didn't take anything at the time of fixing which became the main reason of accident and death of 5 climbers.

                        The summit Night and Day

  We started at around 5:30pm on May 19. I was the part of route setting team so I had to start earlier than other team start. Unfortunately there were not all 6sherpas as promised in base camp. Late Bipash Gurung and 2sherpas from Carlos Soria team and I were only there for route fixing among which Mr Carlos Soria's 2sherpas left the last camp at around 4:30 pm and they start fixing.
Bipash and I met them at around 7:30 pm. They had already fixed 200m ropes and were working on another 200m ropes. They told the trail breaking was little difficult. So Bipash started opening the route. He fixed remaining 200m rope and then I started to lead with my 200m another rope. We were doing it so quickly. At the time, Bipash was fixing , those 2sherpa took rest and started drinking tea. So I just told them come slow having their tea because they could easily follow us since Bipash and myself were leading ahead already. As soon we finished fixing 200m by Bipash and 200m by myself, we lost those two guys. We could see their Torch lightening but they were not answering us. so there was no reason to wait them and we continued. since Bipash carried 200m+200m=400m and I had 200m+150m=350m ropes, we continued. I was not using oxygen and Bipash had carried oxygen for himself but he didn't use it after we started fixing because he was feeling difficult to communicate with me.
We were so quick that we finished all our ropes reaching around 8100m as soon as it was 11pm. We didn't have more rope to fix so we had to wait. But we were ok because the weather was cool and we could see lightening from Darjeeling. We wanted to keep ourselves awake so we started sharing our words. That was the moment I knew many things about Bipash. He had his plan to climb K2 with people Japan after Kanchenjunga and he told me to join their team as his climbing Partner. But I had my Mountain Guide course right after Kanchenjunga expedition which starts on 5th June and ends on 20th June. But he said both of us will go on 21st June which I assured to go. He also shared his wishes to climb Everest. He was on Everest for twice unfortunately both the expedition were in Autumn and Autumn season is not good time for Everest Expedition. So I assured him climb Everest in 2014 with my team from our agency. Beside that we talked about our family and how we can forget about girls. We also tried to keep contact with other Sherpa to bring up rope and also tried to make contact with Dr.Carlos, member from Carlos Soria's Team. We almost waited there around 3hrs or 3.30hrs. Then 2 other Sherpa arrived with 150m ropes which Bipash started first again. I got radio call from my climbing Partner, Nima that our Iranian lady wanted to go back. I told Nima to convince her and bring her up. I was in fixing team and he had the responsibility of our two Iranian clients. I told Nima either take both down or bring both up. But both of them wanted to follow their own decisions. I ask Nima if Reza could come up alone and he said he can. Then I wanted to talk with the lady if I could convince her to continue because she was very fine before I leave them and I know her mountaineering career which is quite impressive but could not talk with her. I was very angry at her with her decision and I took my decision not to accept her for any climbing in future. I was more sad and angry when I knew she went back to base camp alone and that also she went directly from camp-IV to base camp which I didn't imagine could be possible for sick person. I was sure she could make the summit with us easily and we would not let her into any problem too because Nima is one of the strongest and best climber I found on mountains and I was too there. 

       I had to wait again for Reza to come up. I almost waited there for an hour. I started feeling my feet cold so I just descent down. I almost descent 300m ropes then met him. Then again continued climbing up. As soon as we reached the point I returned back, 2 people just came falling and stuck on my client's Jumor, ascending tool. I saw they were Bipash and another sherpa. I just help them clear the rope and take long breathe. They turned their down suit but both of them were ok though they got little wound. I told them to return back if they are hurt but Bipash want to continue so is another Sherpa. We climbed around 50m then saw all the climber in a queue. Nobody dare to fix the rope further. I wanted to continue the rope but I also had my own client. Then the guide of Carlos Soria gave his voice to look after my client, so I took my client on my safety and handover to the guide. And I just called Bipash and we went front. I heard a lady calling my name and I though my Iranian lady was back but later on I knew that was  the Chinese lady who followed us on our previous try. I think she was sure that we could do that part easily. we went front and I gave my radio to Bipash and told him not to belay and not to send any other unless I give instruction. I just continued fixing the rope without belay as I was sure I could do that easily. I fixed that part and told other people to come and I waited for my client. I also got flat stone where I took rest and my tea. Bipash arrived to me and he wanted to fix remaining last 50m rope. I made proper anchorage to another Sherpa and Bipash continued.  We finished all our rope reaching only around 8200-8300m.

The Rocky section

But my client and Carlos Soria wanted to continued and reach summit. I had my own short main rope in my bag and Carlos's guide had his own. Bipash wanted to return back and he wanted to give his main rope to me but I denied to take as I was still in doubt for him because he already felt down and was scared. First I requested to go with me but he said his clients were returning back so he wanted to go back. Then Carlos's guide tried to convince me to continue which I agreed. So I again continued first and started climbing the little steeply face.  As soon as I reach the top of steeply face I saw many of them were following us.
My client wanted me take rest and tried to send another team ahead but they were more cleaver than us. So I requested the Chinese team's guide to lead first because it was rocky section and he told he climbed Kanchenjunga before so he was best person to go through. He continued till we reach the cave under big rock. Then I realized it was the cave I read on many books. I knew it would take around 3 hrs to reach the summit. I tried to calculate the time. It was already 1pm. If we continued then we may reach the summit at 4pm which can be bad for us. So I suggested to return back. At that time we were 7 climbers together. But those two Chinese and my client didn't want to return back reaching at this point.  We Sherpa had no option  except hearing them. Then the Chinese team guide told some of the team made the summit at 5pm  in 2011 and all came back safely. That sentence gave me hope that we could do. Yes again, I continued being first person toward the summit. We continued to follow the rocky section where I could find old ropes. Finally I got to the long flat rock which I had kept in my mind.
The Flat rock which I saw in many books
I felt the summit is close to me. Then I just move being excited and I saw the summit just 10m far from me. I just left my client and ran to the summit because we met the snow section and it was very safe place. I just bowed on the summit and started praying and late. Park (Korean climber) came first.  He started tearing and thanked me several times. My client, Mr Reza Shahlei came close to me and started cheering. Then there came Chinese team.

Reza Shahlei from Iran and Myself on the summit

Everyone were enjoying their victory so we had to wait for other to take our summit pictures. I felt sad when some Sherpa didn't take our pictures saying just wait.  Late Park took some of our good pictures and I also took his. Then I said everyone get down. But some of them wanted to wait their friends. I just took my rucksack and moved with my client from there. The Chinese lady was cleaver. She found me strong so quick came down following me and told to help her too. So I just tied up myself in the middle putting my client first and the lady back on same rope. I was strong enough that if someone fall then I could break them easily being in the middle. I got shocked when I saw Bipash coming thorough the rocky section. He returned back and again he came up with his client. I said they will take long time to reach the summit if they walk in the same way because they were looking slow when I met them. I also suggested them get back from there but they want to reach the summit. I just told them not to take much rest and keep walking continuously. We just continued to descend. When we reached the place I finished my last fixing, a cylinder of oxygen went just above of my client's head. Then I also heard another sound like something falling. It was almost dark so we could see nothing. I felt we are back safely because we already reached the rope point before it was getting dark totally. I sent my client first then the Chinese Lady and myself.  When we reached around 7500m, my friend Nima came up there with tea and juice. Just before meeting him, I heard another sound "juieeee..." like falling rock into air. I could not figure out what was that. I told Nima about this and he said he saw red thing. He was quite sure that it was a person. We took the juice and tea and Nima help other two to move ahead toward our camps. We reached our camp within 30minutes. I looked my watch and it was already 11:48pm. I tried to look up but didn't see anyone coming. I tired to give a voice to the Chinese lady's Sherpa who got back from 8200m saying he didn't want to die because he has children. But he didn't give us any response. So we just let her sleep in our tent. Nima gave us hot tea and noodles. We connected our base camp crew and slept as we were tired too.
our last camp with death bodies very close to us
Photo with Bipash in Yellow boot

           The next morning we woke up late. We were sleeping and we got a radio call from our base camp crew. They were still worried because they already got the news of missing and death. Only then we knew 4 climbers died and 3 were missing. I was shocked when I heard Bipash was missing. It was difficult for me to believe that he was no more. I didn't felt that much sad hearing 4 people died what I felt hearing about Bipash. After we contact everyone at the camp-IV we knew 4 slipped away and still 2 were missing. Among them, one Korean came early in the morning and we gave him tea and he went back to his camp and another Hungarian was seen at around 8300m. I am not sure but some said they saw a person coming down which we didn't see from camp-IV. We could see those dead bodies very close to our camps. What can we do in that case because it's a mountain. If any of them were alive then we could do something but they all were no more.
We could do nothing. It was very difficult to accept that Bipash was no more because he was really good on mountain. If he was alive, he would be one of my choice for climbing together on many other mountains. 

There could be more accident

1.  The night of 19th May and 20th May both were so calm and clear without wind. If there was wind on 20th May night, I am afraid more people could die and frostbites. That night was so perfect for making summit. So most of the people got back safely.

2. If I get back from 8200m then I am sure the Carlos Soria team's guide would return back with me and Bipash. Nobody would dared to break the steeply deep snow part above 8200m as most of them were already scared after Bipash and another sherpa felt down. If all get back from that point then I am again sure that most of us would stay at camp-II which was regarded as the safest camp. Unfortunately on 20th night, whole the camp-II was swept away by avalanche. which mean if nobody go to summit then many climbers could die on 20th night at camp-II.

Suggestion for climbers going to Kanchenjunga 

1. Put the last camp at around 7600m. 7400m is better place but you need to start early for the summit bid.
2. Climbers need to take around 2000m ropes at least from last camp to summit.
3. If any climber is unable to reach the cave at around 8400m before 11AM then I would suggest to turn back from there. Because the way is long and we get tired easily on the rocky section and that is the result of accident on Kanchenjunga.
4. Kanchenjunga is not the choice for small team of 3-4 climbers. Again if there is bigger team of more than 7 Climbers then it's not difficult mountain.

 For more pictures and information,

Email: climbermingma@gmail.com