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Kanchenjunga Expedition 2018

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Lakpa at Kanch BC 2017, our puja Lakpa at Kanch BC 2017, our puja
The ‘Expedition Base’ Kanchenjunga Expedition 2018 is well and truly underway.  Lakpa and I met with the Nepal Tourism Board officials over a week ago for our team’s pre-expedition briefing, met our Liaison Officer, and received our climbing permit. 

The 3 big teams that I know of that will be at Kanchenjunga this year comprise ‘Expedition Base’ (including Mingma G’s 3 team members who may come across to Kanch if they get an early summit opportunity on Lhotse), ‘Asian Trekking’ (including an Indian Army team) and ‘Seven Summits Treks’.

From what I know about climber numbers this year, I’m pretty confident that this year has the most climbers on the mountain ever.  There has been a lot of consultation between the logistics operators for each of the teams for a few months in Kathmandu, which bodes well for good planning and co-operation between teams, critical for success on mountains like these.

As many know, I was on the mountain last year and most of us got to a high point of around 8,100m.  There were no summits last year.  This year, hopefully, we will reach the high point and get down safely.

Route setting on the mountain is scheduled to start today or tomorrow, weather and conditions permitting.  There has been some snowfall in the last week, likely similar to conditions experienced in the Khumbu (Everest) region, and likely related to the heavy monsoonal-like rains we have had in Kathmandu over the last week or two.  Last year, there was a super big crevasse above Camp 4 that I’m hoping has closed a bit more this season with this additional snowfall… it was like a big open cavern trying to hide under a thin sheet of ice and snow.  Whilst we could tip toe over it on the way up last year, it required a good leap to get over it on the way down, opening in the heat of the day.

The first ascent of Kanchenjunga was on 25 May 1955, with a Kiwi (Norman Hardie) in the mix with an ascent the very next day.

Historically, Kanch is known for late summit windows, with the window often coming just after good weather reaches Mt Everest.  May the winds on Kanch this year be much lower than last year.

Like last year, I’ll be pondering whether to do the ‘one foot border dance’ if I’m lucky enough to reach the summit - the Nepal/India border goes right through the middle of the main summit.  I have not been to India yet in my lifetime so maybe there will be a chance for my big toe to visit momentarily.

Again this year, we have an awesome team with Expedition Base – including Chris B Warner from USA, Steve Hart from NZ and Guntis Brands from Suisse – a lot of 8,000m peak experience in the team.   We will be missing Matt du Puy big time this year as work commitments have kept him away.  (Hi Matt – resounding ‘miss you’ from all of us).  We have all visited the Rinpoche at Bouda for our blessing for safe passage.  We will have another puja at BC once we arrive.

Lakpa Sherpa is leading our expedition under his new company ‘Expedition Base’, which he started last year with a new partner after our Kanchenjunga expedition (having operated for 8 years under another banner).  Watching Lakpa and his team pull together the logistics for this year has been awe inspiring, given we plan to go to Mera Peak first (leaving tomorrow) and then fly across to Kanch – cargo has been moving in for many weeks to Kanch via plane, truck, porters and helicopters.  But, Lakpa specializes in this kind of stuff and it is why he is one of the best in the business.

Pema Tsering Sherpa is back in our team this year, to attempt his 4th summit of this great mountain, with 3 summits already to his name - legend.  Chhiring (Tsering) Sherpa, Lakpa’s nephew, is also part of the team, around two years after coming 1st in his class I believe for his UIAGM/IFMGA qualification and recently having come back from guiding on big mountains in New Zealand, including Aoraki Mt Cook. 

We will have internet from time to time whilst on the expedition so you will find updates here on this blog or on the ‘Expedition Base’ or ‘Chris Jensen Burke’ public Facebook pages and on Instagram as well if I am not technically challenged etc.

As for me, I’m feeling in tip-top shape.  Like clockwork, I already have sinusitis (broken record), likely from pollution – doesn’t matter if I’m in Kathmandu or Sydney, they are routine for me.  But, it is already under control.  I’m nice and fit with muscles in all the right places and my cardio is good as I’ve been solidly training for months.

The big reality is I would not be here but for the support of many people.  The supporters I can mention include Japan’s Mont-Bell (big tents, small tents, sleeping bags, down jackets, rainwear and other clothing).  If you do not know their gear in your country, do check it out – it is awesome.  Lakpa and I are big fans and Mont-Bell has been incredible with what they have done for us.  To Mountain Equipment in Sydney – thank you, always.  Everyone at ME are great and we love seeing everyone there when we are in Sydney – they are the ‘go to’ team in Sydney for gear advice for the mountains.  And, to Show West, in Perth, Western Australia – for awesome amusement rides (and corporate events) – and check out the Wave Swinger. 

And, huge thanks for the messages of support!  They mean a lot and will be propelling me up the mountain.

Off we go!  Thank you.

Last modified onSunday, 08 April 2018 08:30

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