Alan Targets Third
Highest Mountain in the World, Kangchenjunga
Alan Hinkes to attempt
new route on south-west face and solo climb
"George Band has given me some very useful background about how he tackled Kangchenjunga," said Alan. "I will be following in the footsteps of one of the great mountaineers of the 50s and 60s."
The fourteen mountains over 8000m high are all in the Himalaya and nearby Karakoram range of mountains. Alan has already climbed eleven of them including Everest and K2 which is a British record, and it has taken him fourteen years and over 24 expeditions. No British mountaineer has ever climbed all fourteen and many climbers from around the world have died trying to climb them.
He has been involved in many dangerous incidents in the Himalaya over the years, in particular in 1997 when he made the headlines around the world after he sneezed on some chapati flour and slipped a disc. He lay in agony for ten days part way up a mountain and it was only when he could drag himself down to a lower altitude that he could be rescued by helicopter and taken to hospital.
Kangchenjunga is the third highest mountain in the world. Although it is only 270 metres lower than Everest it is a much harder mountain to climb. It lies at the eastern extreme of the Himalayan range, on the border between India and Nepal. Alan will be approaching the mountain from the Nepalese side in his attempt on the south-west face. After the first ascent of Kangchenjunga in 1955, it was not climbed again for twenty-two years, largely because of the inaccessible nature of the mountain. It still remains one of the least climbed 8000 metre mountains in the Himalaya.
All mountains at this height are very dangerous to climb, and mountaineers often refer to this extreme altitude as the 'death zone', because no-one can survive at that altitude for more than a few days. Because
Kangchenjunga lies at the eastern extreme of the Himalaya it is exposed to very bad weather conditions, in particular winds of 300 mph or more. It is also a technically difficult mountain to climb, much harder than Everest, which is only 250m higher, and possibly as hard as K2 which is only 12m higher. There are no easy routes up Kangchenjunga; all faces have serious avalanche and rockfall dangers and very difficult terrain.
Alan is intending to climb solo, using the technique of modern light-weight
"Each mountain offers its own extreme challenge," said Alan Hinkes, "but Kangchenjunga has many different challenges. Even the approach to base camp will be harder than most and the extreme conditions on the mountain will pose many physical and mental challenges to me. I only have three mountains left to climb on Challenge 8000 and so my motivation is high. But I also believe that no mountain is worth a life and the real challenge will be to pit my experience against the conditions and challenges on the mountain."