Progress Report 2 - Kangchenjunga - 26th April 2000

Violent weather has delayed the UK's top high altitude mountaineer Alan Hinkes on his trek to base camp on the giant Himalayan mountain Kangchenjunga.

Alan is attempting to be the first Britain to climb all fourteen of the world's highest mountains, which are all over 8000 metres in height - Challenge 8000. So far he has climbed eleven of the mountains, including Everest and K2. This spring, he is attempting to climb Kangchenjunga the
third highest mountain in the world.

Alan left Kathmandu in Nepal on Thursday 13 April and flew to Biratnagar, a town on the Indian/Nepalese border which is at about 235 metres above sea level. From there he attempted to fly on a small light aircraft to a dirt airstrip at Tapelejung, at 2000 metres, but his plane had to turn back to Biratnagar because of bad weather. When he finally arrived at Tapelejung he found that his equipment, which had been travelling by road, had been delayed by a road block. Tapelejung is the road head - the location of the nearest road to Kangchenjunga. From there the route is a twelve day trek on foot across very rough and inhospitable terrain to the mountain.

Having lost several days waiting for his equipment to join him, Alan set off on the trek with around 25 Nepalese porters carrying his equipment and accompanied by his three base camp staff; Pemba, his cook, Ang Pasang the camp Sirdar or foreman and Pemba Gyalzen the cook's helper.

By Sunday 23 April they had reached Oktang at 4360 metres, when the weather changed suddenly and dramatically from warm spring sunshine to a violent storm which deposited about sixteen inches of snow in one night. The group were confined to their tents and forced to wait out the storm.

"We were struck by a horrendous storm," said Alan via his satellite phone from Oktang. "The weather was really violent with very strong winds, lightning and a very heavy dump of snow. The conditions for the remaining part of the trek will be much worse. I think that it will be about another
week before we reach base camp."

"Although this delay is very frustrating," he continued, "I still have enough time to make my attempt on Kangchenjunga. I shall push on to base camp and assess the impact of the storm on the conditions on the mountain. This area at the eastern end of the Himalayan mountains has a history of very bad weather and unfortunately violent storms are very common."