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Shishapangma Expedition

Shisapangma ExpeditionAltitude 8,027m/26,335ft » Duration 42 Days » Grade 4E This Tibetan giant is one of the most straightforward and accessible of the 8,000m peaks

Before the Chinese opened Tibet to western mountaineers in 1978, little was known about Shishapangma. The only 8,000m peak to lie entirely in Tibet, it lies tantalisingly close to the Nepalese border, shrouded behind the great, but less high, border peaks of Langtang. Enterprising individuals sought mere glimpses of it during the period that other 8,000m peaks were receiving their first ascents! It is perhaps not surprising that it was the last of the 8,000m peaks to be climbed. Not that its ascent by the North-West Ridge presents any great difficulty. On the contrary, it is now regarded as one of the most straightforward 8,000m climbs and its summit is frequently achieved.

Regarded as a 'holy' mountain by the local Tibetan population, and lying on the route to Mt. Kailash, Shishapangma continues to baffle us. Historians cannot fathom her names - Shishapangma, Xixabangma, Gosainthan, and surveyors seem unable to fix her height (anything from 8,012m to 8,046m). Even the first ascent by the Chinese in 1964 is questioned, due to the lack of photographic evidence and the fact that the summit ridge sports several subsidiary 'summits'. Yet, the mountain is perhaps the most accessible of her genre, rising only a few miles west of the Kathmandu-Lhasa Highway. It was 16 years before the mountain received its second ascent, by a West German team in 1980, and it has been climbed every year since.

The Expedition
This expedition is not a "guided" ascent. It will be a professionally led team of competent mountaineers who have enough experience to climb one of the world's highest mountains without undue risk. This approach ensures that team members are suitably experienced, reasonably self-sufficient and capable and willing to move between camps unsupervised. You will still have a high level of support, starting with strong, confident leadership; this will maximise your chances of success without undermining the quality of your achievement.

If you have the necessary experience and wish to participate fully as a team member of an expertly led expedition to one of the world's highest mountains, this could be the trip for you!

The Climb
Following our time spent in Lhasa, we embark on the remainder of the journey to Chinese base camp. Several hours' driving leads us up, steeply, onto the expanse of the Tibetan plateau, crossing the Lalung La (5,050metres) en route. This pass is festooned with Buddhist prayer flags, a symbol of the religious fervour of the local Tibetans, and the visiting Sherpas, despite many years of occupation and religious persecution by the Chinese. From the pass there are excellent views of Shishapangma and particularly the North-West Ridge. After a short time we eventually leave the Lhasa highway and head west on bumpy roads towards Mount Kailash. The journey to base camp takes 4-5 hours as it winds itself around Shishapangma across the Tibetan plain, eventually approaching the mountain directly from the north. The day's journey ends at Chinese base camp, which is situated at 5,000 metres. It is here that the Chinese and Tibetan Mountaineering Associations establish their headquarters for the climb. It is also where our Liaison Officer (LO) resides for the duration of the expedition. It is in a spectacular position offering superb views of the mountain and the ridge in ever-changing light and colour. From here a further two days are spent acclimatising in the local hills which is invaluable preparation for the trek to advance base camp (ABC). At the same time preparations are made for transporting all the expedition equipment by Yak to ABC which lies some 12 miles up the Yambughangala valley. The previous evening and morning of departure to ABC are accompanied by the clamour of bells, shouts and whistles while the Sirdar and yak drivers argue over the loads (the traditional process!). This is the best time to depart early with a light load for the gentle but long amble towards the mountain. There are several options here but it is just as well to keep low and follow the glacier river rather than ascend the more gentler and appealing slopes in front of you and then having to suddenly descend several hours later!

ABC is situated just at the snout of the glacier on the west side of the moraine at around 5,600m. It is relatively flat and accommodating, with many old prayer flags strewn from previous Puja altars. After a couple of day's rest we begin our ascent of the mountain in earnest with a trip to depot camp. This is an intermediate camp, which is generally used at the beginning of the expedition for storing equipment such as plastic boots, food, axes etc. It follows closely the main moraine from ABC, and although situated at 5,800m, the height gain is more significant because of the up and down nature of the terrain. Initially the journey takes 3-4 hours but improves significantly after further acclimatisation. Depot camp provides an early introduction to the crossing of the penitentes (ice pinnacles) which bar the way to camp 1. It also provides a base from which we practice the use of crampons, the ascent of fix ropes and crevasse rescue.

During this time our Sherpas operate in support and do most of the bulk of the load carrying, especially to the top camp. After a couple of day's rest we make our way to camp 1 which lies on a broad plateau at 6,440m. Having crossed the penitentes and onto the main snow slopes there is little objective danger, and fixed ropes are in place on the more crevassed areas. The route to camp 1 is never steep but conditions can get hot so we leave early in the morning! It is usual to establish the camp as far back on the snow shoulder as possible and the journey from ABC takes around 5-7 hours. The following morning sees an early start and a steep ascent of the snow slopes which lead onto the upper glacier emanating from the Col. The top of this headwall (situated around 6800m) takes around 3 hours to reach. It gives splendid views of the north face of Shishapangma and gives the impression that the summit looks easily attainable! We descend back to camp 1 and eventually ABC for a well-deserved rest.

Improved acclimatisation and greater familiarity makes the prospect of subsequent climbing less daunting, but the challenge remains physically tough each time we make the journey above ABC. Rest and treks on nearby spires provide further high altitude acclimatisation whilst the Sherpas are working hard to establish camp 2 towards the end of the Col at 7,050m. This usually requires them to make two journeys from camp 1 carrying tents, fuel and cooking equipment. Each team member carries his/her own personal loads, which allows them to remain reasonably fresh and ensures that the effort of load carrying does not physically exhaust the team. Load carrying and periods of rest are balanced to ensure that climbers reach the optimum level of acclimatisation and physical fitness immediately before the summit attempts. At ABC we are given a prolonged period of rest of at least 3-4 days before moving up to occupy camp 2 in readiness for the ultimate climb to the top. Camps on the mountain are located at:

Camp 1 - 6,400 metres
Camp 2 - 7,050 metres

Depending on the acclimatisation of the team members and the weather conditions, there is an option to place a camp 3 at 7,400 metres, but this would involve significant additional load carrying requirements from ABC. In our experience and following our acclimatisation programme, we have not found it necessary to establish this camp.

Camp 2 is about 5-7 hours above camp 1 and involves a short but steep ascent followed by a gentler climb, usually in deeper snow, to the Col below the North-West Ridge. Once in camp 2 we must make every effort to prepare for the following day. This means drinking, eating and resting. In order to function effectively on summit day, it is vital to drink as much as possible and this involves a big effort since the altitude makes the easiest physical work very demanding and the task of boiling water and getting ready slower than usual. However, we must resist the temptation to relent and to relax as drinking and eating, in order to replenish the calories lost during the climb so far, is the highest priority if we are to be successful in our ambition of climbing Shishapangma.

Summit day begins early as it takes several hours to make breakfast, to drink adequately and to get fully equipped before leaving the tent. We usually leave so as to reach the shoulder at 7,400m around first light. Once on our way we have a steep but easy snow climb to the shoulder before gaining the ridge itself. There are several rock bands and steep snow slopes to cross, with the more difficult of these being well protected with fixed ropes. As in previous expeditions we stay on the ridge to the top and hence avoid the more exposed snow slopes that veer off towards the main summit (the original Chinese route). The views from the summit provide a magnificent vista, which includes Everest and Lhoste, as well as Cho Oyu, to name but a few of the highest peaks. Reaching the summit takes between 8-12 hours depending on the conditions with a descent by the same route. Nights are spent at camp 2 and camp 1.

Safety and the Conduct of the Climb
Although many people have now climbed Shishapangma, the mountain and its potential dangers deserve respect by all those attempting it. Reaching the summit late in the day would be a serious mistake and our guides will ensure that sensible timings are adhered to. The aim of our expedition will be to get as many team members as possible to the summit. However, this will not be to the detriment of safety. Safety will govern all decision making on the mountain and will be based on the sound mountaineering judgement of our highly experienced mountain guides. To support our guides on the mountain, we at Jagged Globe will plan the expedition as thoroughly and carefully as possible using our own experience and knowledge of the mountain to maximum benefit. Ultimately, the leader will have sole discretion on the implementation of any plan to climb the mountain and he will ensure that safety remains the prime consideration.

The high mountains of the Himalaya, and Shishapangma in particular, are there for us to climb and to enjoy. Our priority will be to enable all team members to fulfil their potential on the mountain and to come home safely having had a life enhancing experience. Whether or not expedition members reach the top, the expedition should be an enjoyable and rewarding achievement that will form the basis of many long cherished memories and friendships.

Day 01 Arrival Kathmandu (1350m.) and transfer to Hotel
Day 02 Preparing Expedition/visa for Tibet (Kathmandu)
Day 03 Preparing expedition ( Kathmandu )
Day 04 Drive to Kodari, Transfer to Zhangmu (2300M.)
Day 05 Drive Nylam 3750m. Over night at Hotel
Day 06 Nylam rest for acclimatization
Day 07 Drive to Chinese Base camp 5000m.
Day 08 Acclimatization at Base camp
Day 09 Prepare load for Advance Base Camp
Day 10 Trek to Middle Camp
Day 11 Trek to Advance Base Camp 5400m.
Day 12-36 Climbing Period Shishapangama
Day 37 Trek to Base Camp
Day 38 Drive Nyalam
Day 39 Drive to Zhangmu and Kathmandu
Day 41 Kathmandu
Day 41 Kathmandu
Day 42 Final Departure

Cost: Group join basis.
Per Person USD 7,500.00
Climbing Sherpa, Per Sherpa USD 3,200.00 (if required)

Cost includes:
5 nights accommodation in Kathmandu with bed and breakfast (3 star hotel)
Expert professional Nepalese expedition crews like Cook, Kitchen boy, ABC guide and mountaineering gears till to the ABC are provided; and our crews get all expedition facilities from our office itself.
Tibet visa and Travel Permit for the expedition crew
Full board hotel in route to Tibet side Zhangmu, Nyalam (bed- breakfast, Lunch, dinner)
Base Camp - Advance Base Camp 1 tent for 1 person (North Face brand)
Dining tent, Table, Chairs, toilet tent, Mess tent and Kitchen tent Per person's (50 KG) Load is carried by the Yak till to the from Base Camp to Advanced Base
Per person's (40 KG) Load is carried by the Yak on the way back to the ABC to the BC
Kathmandu - Zhangmu - Base Camp - Zhangmu (vice versa) are provided the Mini
bus/Jeep for the members and Truck for the equipment
Peak permit for Shishapangma 8035m.
Tibet Visa and Travel permit
Liaison officer and Interpreter
Nepalese crew' insurance
ABC - Emergency Oxygen, Mask and regulator
Satellite phone (Pay call).
Expedition T-shirts with Expedition label
Farewell dinner

Cost does not include:
Air travel to and from Kathmandu.
Lunch and dinner in Kathmandu.
Laundry, postage, telephone calls, and all other items of personal nature.
Entry visa and Re-entry visa for Nepal.
International departure tax.
Personal Expenses.
Medical and rescue insurance.
Personal Climbing equipment.
Bar bills and Beverage.
Rescue Jeep USD 700.00
Medicine and first aid expenses
Garbage Deposit USD 600.00 (Sharing of the total person) and Deposit fee will be not refunded if the clients (climber) don't take back their garbage.

Extra yak, Per Yak's USD 120.00 will be charge till to 50 KG load.

Note: After the Expedition, Tipping system is well come for expedition crews from your generosity if you are happy with the staffs of the company. We wish you a happy and successful climbing.