Day 14: Reaching Kanchenjunga Base Camp

Posted on 13 Mar 2018

“Kanchenjunga”  the name rolls off the Nepali tongue with a musical ring. From my western mouth it comes out in chunks lucky to make myself understood.

It’s from the Tibetan language meaning, 'tall mountain, five sisters' for the five summits grouped together. 

At 8,540 metres it is the third tallest mountain in the world and though it doesn’t have the reputation of Everest, as one of only fourteen 8,000 metre peaks climbers frequently attempt to summit. This year at least five expeditions are expected to attempt it. 

We reached Kanchenjunga Base Camp today which is significant to us in a few ways:

1. We have reached the farthest eastern point on the GHT. Tomorrow we turn around and head west. Our trek across Nepal will finally be heading the right direction. 

2. We climbed and are camped above 5,000m/16,000ft today for the first time. For the next several weeks we’ll spend most of our time between 3,000 and 5,000m/10,000 and 16,000ft with a couple variations above and below these elevations. We’re hoping it gets easier as the last couple of days have been taxing. 

3. We now know we’re in the Himalaya. The mountains are amazing, and it’s not just Kanchenjunga, it’s 360 degrees of glacier covered peaks. Oh yeah, and it’s cold up here: -16°C/4°F this morning. We’re using all our layers!

Trail images

The Ghunsa Lama sits in the corner by the window where the morning light is better. We sip Tibetan tea and wrinkle our noses at the buttery taste. He chooses a prayer book and leafs through to the proper pages. The blessing begins.

Pinches of rice sprinkle down on the prayer flags as the monk chants the blessing from the prayer book.

The flags will someday fly from a high pass and with the blessing each waving of the flag will be the same as a spoken prayer. Without the blessing they are just colored cloth in the wind. I look forward to the day when the flags will fly above Nepal.

That’s about it for now. We’re far enough along to begin realising what we’ve gotten ourselves into, but we’re heading west and that will make progress easier to measure.

Wish us luck,

Ken, Ricardo and Vince.


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