Nepal: Kanchenjunga–Dispatch 1

Until 1852, Kanch (as it’s affectionately called by Westerners who don’t want to bother mouthing all the syllables) was assumed to be the highest mountain in the world. It was calculations from the Great Trigonometric Survey (hot link to my India trip page) that confirmed Everest as the highest, relegating Kanch to third place behind Pakistan’s K2. At 28,169 feet, Kanch stands amidst a chorus line of lofty glacier-clad peaks, in the far eastern reaches of Nepal, straddling Nepal’s border with Sikkim.

Nearly 3,000 people have summited Everest, and the two base camps, one in Nepal and the other in Tibet, team with hundreds of would-be summiteers, along with drugs, prostitutes and the detritus of scores of expeditions. Compared to that, it seems that fewer than fifty have successfully reached the summit of Kanchenjunga. There’s an ongoing debate as to whether Kanchenjunga or K2 is the hardest to climb. I guess if you make it up one and not the other, the latter becomes the hardest.


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