Inquiry Now This Trip
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.
IThe 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).
Day 1 - Arrive Kathmandu 1350m
We meet you at the airport, look for a sign with your name on it.
Days 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 - ABC
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 - Kathmandu
Time for a good relaxing and shopping and to celebrate the expedition.
Day 46 - departure
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.