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 safer. 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 with altitude at the peak ranging from 8012m to 8046m. The mountain has two summits. The commonly climbed is Central summit (8012m) whose expedition we have organized several times.
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 everyone. 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).
After arrival at the Airport, our representative welcomes you and transfers to Hotel. You will check in to Hotel which will provide welcome amenities. Rest of the day stroll around the historic town of Kathmandu or explore the fun filled lively streets of Thamel on your own..
Kathmandu is the historical and cultural heart of Nepal and has been a popular destination for tourists ever since Nepal opened its doors to visitors. The city presents a wonderful mix of Hinduism, Tibetan Buddhism and Western influence. There will be a guided tour to the major highlights of the Valley including the UNESCO World Heritage sites. These days are for visa processing and documentation.
About 1.5 hours’ panoramic flight will take you to Gonggar Airport where you will meet your Tibetan guide. After immigration formalities, you will be driven to Lhasa (3650m). It takes around 45 minutes to reach the old city. After checking in at your hotel, you are advised to take rest and take it easy. Drink plenty of fluids and let your body get used to Lhasa’s high altitude. Note: There is no fixed program arranged for today. .
After breakfast, you will be briefed on the day’s program. An experienced guide will take you on a tour to Sera Monastery, Norbulingka and Barkhor Square. At the famous Sera Monastery, you will get an insight into the important aspects of Tibetan Buddhism. You will also pay a visit to Norbulingka, the summer retreat of Dalai Lama. Completed in 1956, the handsome building is ornately decorated with Tibetan carvings and paintings. Jokhang temple provides yet another glimpse of the rich Tibetan cultural heritage. You will also get the chance to stroll around the busy Barkhor Square, the nerve centre of Lhasa. After the day’s tour, you will be escorted back to your hotel..
Moving along the Friendship Highway, you will drive past Khamba La, at 4794m, with a brief halt to savor majestic views of Yamdrok-tso Lake and Nazin Kang Sa, standing at 7252m. On turning westwards, you will come across another pass, Karo La at 5045m. If you look at the road, you can see huge glaciers tumbling down. After driving 261 km, beautifully landscaped Tibetan villages become visible as you enter the town of Gyantse..
Gyantse prides on Gyantse Dzong and Kumbum. Gyantse Dzong, a 14th century historical fort, overlooks the entire Gyantse and the surrounding Nyang Chu Valley. Kumbum has a large gold-domed stupa and houses several chapels and Tibetan Buddhist murals. After exploring Gyantse, you take a 90 km drive and arrive at Shigatse (3900m), the second largest Tibetan city. Tashilhunpo Monastery, being one of the largest functioning monasteries in Tibet is the major attraction of Shigatse..
Today you will traverse along the Friendship Highway amidst picturesque landscape driving past small town of Lhatse and Gyamtso La pass at 5220m. As the route opens into plains, many monasteries and camps of nomadic herders become visible en route to Shegar. At Shegar, you will be accommodated at a comfortable local hotel..
Half a day of driving brings to Sishapangma Base Camp. The views of Shishapangma are wonderful from this grassy camp near a stream..
We spend some 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 onwards is tentative one. .
It is a long day 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..
We acclimatize further and have a puja, a ceremony to show respect to the mountain. The puja is held on an auspicious day decided by the Sherpas after consulting the Guru..
The expedition leader in discussion with the team members and Sherpas manage 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 get ready 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 days 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 day means a very early start. The best route to the true summit is crossing the face 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 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..
It takes several days to clear all the camps, and bring all our rubbish down..
More packing! Occasionally we can arrange for the climbers to leave ahead of the expedition leader and Sherpas. We decide at the time..
We pack everything else for the yaks to hump down. The idea is to trek to BC then get the truck and land cruisers there in the afternoon, heading to Kerung. Back to thicker air!.
We should arrive in Kathmandu late afternoon or evening. Be ready to enjoy the good restaurants..
Time for a good relaxing and shopping and to celebrate the expedition..
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..
Dolpo requires some extra logsistics and Pemba made all necessary arrangements. We also benefited. Both treks were wonderful! from having a local guide- Baba –in Mustang- as this is more of a cultural trek-his personal knowledge was useful.
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