Climbing Shishapangma ABC Support

If you think you are ready to climb an 8000er, then some of the thrilling and daring choices are Cho Oyu, Shishapangma (both to be climbed from Tibet) and Gasherbrum II ( Pakistan). The route to Shishapangma is relatively safe climb. It is not as crowded as Cho Oyu, so you can look ahead for a ‘just our team and the mountain’ experience.

Shishapangma is the 14th highest mountain in the world The altitude at the peak ranges from 8012m to 8046m. The mountain has two summits. The commonly climbed Central summit (8012m) has been summitted by four expedition teams whose expedition we helped organized.

Before the Chinese opened Tibet  to western mountaineers in 1970, little was known about Shishapangma. The only 8000m peak to lie entirely  in Tibet, it lies tantalizingly close to the Nepalese border, shrouded behind the great, but less high, board peaks of Langtang.

It is perhaps not surprising that it was the last of the 8,000m peaks to be climbed. Not that its ascent the North-Western Ridge presents any great difficulty. On the contrary, it is now regarded as one of the most straight-forward 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, Xizabangma, 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.

The original North West Ridge route is an excellent objectively quite safe, and the terrain offers good  camp sites at the Tibetan Plateau (lying in the Himalayan Shadow usually provide excellent topping-out opportunities).

Outline Itinerary

  • Day 1 Arrive Kathmandu 1350m
  • Day 2-3 in Kathmandu
  • Day 4 fly Lhasa 3660m
  • Day 5-6 Lhasa 3660m
  • Day 7 drive Shigatse ~3900m
  • Day 8 drive Shegar 4350m
  • Day 9 rest Shegar 4350m
  • Day 10 drive Shishapangma Base Camp 5000m
  • Day 11-12-13 stay Base Camp 5000m
  • Day 14 trek ABC ~5600m
  • Day 15-16 ABC
  • Day 17-39 (23 days) climbing Shishapangma
  • Day 40-41 cleaning the mountain
  • Day 42 packing ABC
  • Day 43 trek BC, drive Nyalam/Zhangmu
  • Day 44 drive Kathmandu
  • Day 45 Kathmandu
  • Day 46 departure

Our service includes

  • Airport transfers
  • 5 nights 3 star hotel in Kathmandu, single with breakfast, in the heart of Thamel
  • All group transportation by private vehicle
  • Entrance fees and permits as needed
  • Chinese visa and all permits
  • Kathmandu-Lhasa flight
on expedition:
  • BC, ABC and mountain services
  • email, walkie talkies, all meals, all tents,
  • charging for cameras etc
  • Chinese visa, permits etc

Our service excludes

  • Insurance, Nepal visas, meals in Kathmandu
  • Personal climbing equipment
  • emergency evacuation/early departure
  • International flights to Kathmandu, equipment rental, alcohol and soft drinks, laundry, tipping and other items of a personal nature

Detailed Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Arrive Kathmandu 1350m

    We meet you at the airport, look for a sign with your name on it..

  • Day 2-3

    in Kathmandu

    Two free days in Kathmandu for relaxing, packing and preparing. You can leave any gear which you don't need during the expedition at the hotel. We keep your international air ticket at the office in case any changes need to be made while you are climbing. We can arrange a sightseeing tour, if you wish..

  • Day 4

    fly Lhasa 3660m

    We take a morning flight to Lhasa. The altitude is good for starting the acclimatization process, but expect to feel it initially..

  • Day 5-6

    Lhasa 3660m

    We play tourist around Lhasa, sightseeing around the main 4 sites including the stunning Potala Palace and Jokhang..

  • Day 7

    drive Shigatse ~3900m

    On the road finally. If we get there in time we might be able to have a look around the Tashilunpo Monastery..

  • Day 8

    drive Shegar 4350m

    This can be a long drive, especially if there are road works..

  • Day 9

    rest Shegar 4350m

    We take a day trip to stretch the legs and aid acclimatization..

  • Day 10

    drive Shishapangma Base Camp 5000m

    Half a day of driving brings us to 'Chinese' base camp. The views of Shishapangma are wonderful from this grassy camp near a stream..

  • Day 11-12-13

    stay Base Camp 5000m

    We spend several days acclimatizing and preparing our equipment for the yaks to carry to Advance Base Camp. There are some superb day trips and we may even make an overnight camping trip, depending on how the weather looks. The itinerary from here on is approximate only. In 2006 we stayed 5 nights at BC including an overnight trek from there..

  • Day 14

    trek ABC ~5600m

    It is a long days trek to ABC (Advance Base Camp). Yaks do the hard work while we trek carrying only day packs. Everyone will be feeling the altitude but it is amazing how your fitness builds with time. We begin setting up ABC in an ablation valley..

  • Day 15-16


    We acclimatize further and have a puja, a ceremony to show respect for the mountain. The puja is held on an auspicious day decided by the sherpas..

  • Day 17-39

    (23 days) climbing Shishapangma

    The expedition leader in discussion with the team members and sherpas manages the day to day running of the expedition. The sherpas carry the majority of the equipment to establish the camps leaving us to familiarize ourselves with the mountain and get more acclimatized, a long process. There are several different methods to ready for yourself for the summit bid, we will discuss them in detail on the mountain. The basic plan is to spend 3-4 days at ABC then take a 6-7 day trip up on the mountain sleeping as high as Camp 2, 7100m. Logistically, it takes some sound preparation and organization to ensure all the camps are set up with the appropriate supplies. Then we need a window of good weather for the summit attempt and often this is a waiting game. From Camp 3, 7500m, we have a spectacular view that stretches way into the distance to the north and also we can see Everest and Cho Oyu.
    Summit route options
    Summit day means a very early start. The best route to the true summit is crossing the face (in green above, and the picture to the right) but we judge at the time whether this is safe. The route in yellow goes first to the Central summit, which we must fix ropes to. From there to the true summit is a knife-edged ridge that is rarely in condition for traversing, although it is only nasty for less than a rope length. The other possibility is a new route (in blue): from Camp 3 we descend a little onto a broad plateau and will probably have to put a camp there. The slopes from there on are moderate although there are a few crevasses. Once we have summitted we clear the mountain of our gear and rubbish and head out. We are likely to summit prior to day 39 but have plenty of time to wait out for the best conditions..

  • Day 40-41

    cleaning the mountain

    It takes several days to clear all the camps, and bring all our rubbish down..

  • Day 42

    packing ABC

    More packing! Occasionally we can arrange for the climbers to leave ahead of the expedition leader and sherpas. We judge at the time..

  • Day 43

    trek BC, drive Nyalam/Zhangmu

    We pack everything else for the yaks to hump down. The idea is to trek to BC then get the truck and Landcruisers there in the afternoon, heading to Nyalam or even Zhangmu. Back to thicker air!.

  • Day 44

    drive Kathmandu

    We should arrive in Kathmandu late afternoon or evening ready to enjoy the good restaurants..

  • Day 45


    Time for a good relaxing and shopping and to celebrate the expedition..

  • Day 46


    Basically our expedition lasts as long as it takes to summit. We should be back to Kathmandu by this time and so plan your departure around this time..

General Information


We have run many successful and safe expeditions however you must understand this is as real as it gets. We try our best with safety and gear within the limits of the expedition budget and the success rates for Shishapangma (Central summit) are high, but this is 8000m and anything can happen. Even with good gear, good everything, the risk of death is small BUT REAL. There is UNAVOIDABLE avalanche danger, although the probability is low. If you haven't climbed to 8000m before you will find the mountain bigger and scarier than you ever imagined.

We try our best and we are very responsible, caring  people HOWEVER we are not liable for anything, full stop.


Mentally, you should not be on this expedition unless you think you can climb to the summit, there is a lot of power is positive thinking. At the same time you must be prepared for disappointment; conditions may not be perfect, you may struggle at extreme altitude etc.

Experience and fitness

Despite the relatively non-technical nature you MUST have some mountaineering experience and MUST have been to 6000m before. The fitter you are when you arrive the better. You must be at least moderately fit, your fitness will build remarkably on the mountain. Don't underestimate the difficulty and strength of will required to climb at over 7000m.

Happy Explorers

Elephant rides in the jungle of Chitwan National Park and visit to the outstanding Bhaktapur Durbar Square with such excellent guides are the best memories of our trip to Nepal. The service of Explore Himalaya is excellent.

- Ms. Christine and Mr. Michael Patrick McDonagh (England) Read Testimonials | Submit Your Testimonial

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