by Kuba Bogdanski 09/03/2016
Shishapangma: The 8000ers / eight-thousanders are the only mountains with a death zone, where the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere is insufficient to sustain human life, therefore called the death zone. About 30% of the oxygen you find at sea level. They are all are located in the Himalayan and Karakoram mountain ranges in China, India, Nepal and Pakistan and are the only mountains in the world over 8,000 meters.
Shishapangma is the 14th highest and the lowest on that list, so that is the mountain we will start with in our mountain series about the 8000ers or eight-thousanders. It was however the last 8000ers which were climbed due to its location in Tibet and travel restrictions the Chinese government has put in place for the area. It is considered by many as one of the easiest 8000 meters mountains to climb. It’s a good 8000er to start with. We will make an attempt on Shishapangma in 2019.
Each week we will present each 8000ers, and the reason behind this is our fascination climbing all the mountains on this list, something that has only been accomplished by 34 legendary mountaineers to date.
Shishapangma – 14th highest mountain in the world
Elevation: 8,027 meters (26,335ft)
Location: China / Himalayas
First summer ascent: 2nd May 1964 by a Chinese expedition led by Xǔ Jìng
First winter ascent: 14 January 2005 Piotr Morawski and Simone Moro
Duration: 40 days
Shishapangma is the only 8000 meters that actually are wholly in Tibet and Tibet currently belongs to China. The mountain is located 8 km north to the border of Tibet and Nepal.
Shishapangma is the highest mountain in the subrange of the Jugal Himal which includes Dorje Lakpa at 6966 meters, Madiya at 6257 meters and Phurbi Chhyachu at 6637 meters. This is a very remote and unfrequented region, despite its close proximity to Kathmandu as well as the Langtang Himal range.
Shishapangma has two other distinctive summits the 8008 meter Middle Summit and the 7966 meter West Peak Summit.
Most of the climbers only ascend to the lower central summit, not crossing across a very long and sharp ridge to the main summit so they technically have not climbed the peak since they never reached the highest point of the mountain. The dangerous ridge is composed of unstable snow and ledges and is a 1 hours climb from the middle summit.
The first ascent of Shishapangma was way back in 1964 by a Chinese expedition, led by Hsu Jing. 10 climbers after climbing the Northern Route, reached the summit on May 2.
Hsu Jing was the leader but the other summit climbers were Wang Fuzhou, Wū Zōngyuè, Chén Sān, Zhāng Jùnyán, Chéng Tiānliàng, Migmar Zhaxi, Dorjê, Soinam Dorjê, and Yún Dēng.
You can find a list of Ascents, deaths and other statistics of the 8000ers here.
1982: The First Ascent of the South Face
1983: The First American Ascent of Peak
In the early 1983 the first American ascent was by Mike Browning, Chris Pizzo and Glenn Porzak on the North East Face.
1999: Alex Lowe was Killed in an Avalanche
In the year 1999, a 40 year old American climber Alex Lowe, one of the best mountaineers in the world was killed in a huge avalanche.
2004: Jean-Christophe Lafaille Solos Southwest Face in Winter
The 24th of December 2004, Jean-Christophe Lafaille made an exceptional winter solo ascent of the 1982 British route up the South West Face, with a new route section up the first 1000 meters.
2011: Ueli Steck Speed Solos the Shishapangma
Swiss legendary alpinist and alpine speed climber Ueli Steck made a solo ascent in an amazing 10.5 hours up the 2000 meter south face from the base to the summit.
The “normal / traditional route” is via the North-West Face and North Ridge. This route is considered among mountaineers to be the easiest route to the summit of all the 8000ers. The biggest challenge of this route is traversing/moving from the Central to Main Summits along a knife edged scary ridge.
This is how the camps are normally placed up on the mountain.
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Normal Route Typical Itinerary:
This is an example of an itinerary would be on shishapangma. Acclimatization, health and the performance of the expedition team may impact the actual schedule. High altitude mountaineering can change from day to day during an expedition.
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The South Face of shishapangma has at least 6 routes that ascend this 1800 meters face. All of the routes are very hard, climbing in steep snow and ice, while crossing a bunch of rock. The south face was first climbed on May 26th and 28th in 1982 and was accomplished by Doug Scott, Roger Baxter-Jones and Alex MacIntyre, a British team.
There are several other logical possibilities on the West Ridge and East face.
The expeditions start in Kathmandu. Then, you will have to get across the border in Kodari and will get into Tibet/China. After 2 full days of acclimatization at 3400 meters in Nyalam the Jeeps will bring you close to 5 hours to the Chinese Driver’s Camp at 4900 meters. Another possibility is to fly in from Kathmandu to Lhasa/Tibet. You will then get to the Chinese Driver’s Camp within 2 days. From the Chinese Driver’s Camp your baggage will be brought to the Base Camp by local Yaks. The distance to the Base Camp is 18 km.
This list is a guide only. There is a huge number of brands, options and version of all the gear. This is the recommendations and suggestions from mtxplore from our own experience on the mountains. We would love to hear your feedback, so please do contact us if you have any feedback. We love to talk about gear hour after hour.
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A willingness to offer advice on matters that are quite beyond the ken of the adviser seems to be a habit in this part of the world.