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  2005 International Kangchenjunga Expedition - Norbert Joos: reached Camp 3

The climbing Legend Norbert Joos summited Makalu in 2002 for his 11th 8000 meter peak. In 2004, he summited Lhotse for number 12. Norbert Joos and Erhard Loretan were the first to summit Annapurna via the east ridge. This year he takes on Kangchenjunga!

Update: They reached camp 3 on 7600 meters on May 13th. For now it is some older news, but still interesting.

2005 International Kangchenjunga Expedition - 50 years after the first ascent.


Report from Norbert Joos


Norbert and Wendi, both from Switzerland share a climbing permit with an international team. Two other team members are Araceli Segarra and Héctor Ponce de León.



3. and 4. April: Today we start our journey to the big mountain. Renate brings me and Wendi to Zurich airport for the Qatar Airways flight via Doha to the capital of Nepal, Kathmandu. After an unplanned stop at Dehli we arrive in Kathmandu with four hours delay. We are welcomed by Jangbu who brings us to the beautiful Yak & Yeti hotel. The flight was long so we relax the rest of the day. 


5. April: We meet Miss Hawley at 9 AM sharp. As always she wants to know all the details of the team, but she also informs us about other expeditions in Nepal. All our porters and Sherpa staff are already on their way to Taplejung in east Nepal. Today I have only to collect my own personal gear. In the afternoon we visit the Ministry of Tourism where we have the official Expedition briefing.


6. April: We get up late because all preparations are already done. This last day in Kathmandu is to relax and to see some cultural highlights.


7. April: An early rise to catch the flight from Kathmandu to Suketar. Jangbu picks us up with the bus at 6 AM and we drive to the airport. All the baggage items are weighted and put in the aircraft. After three hours of waiting we get the announcement that the flight is cancelled because the weather is too bad. With our luggage we go back to the hotel. Hopefully we have better weather tomorrow.


 2003 Climbing to Camp 1 copyright©Frits Vrijlandt    More


8. April: Today we have good weather. After only 40 minutes we land in Suketar (2200 meter) on a beautiful but rather short grass-strip. Our Sherpa's and porters are welcoming us and carry our luggage to the nearby lodge. From here we can see the summit of Kangchenjunga, miles away. It looks like the mountain wants to greet us, a good sign. Jetta and our cook have already prepared the first lunch before we move on to the camp site at Lhali Kharka. It takes us two hours to reach Lhali Kharka where we spend the first night in a very simple lodge.


9. to 11. April: The next three days we hike trough a typical Nepali hillside landscape, with many up and downhill tracks. Our goal is the last "real” village before the Yalung valley, Sherpa Gaon at 2200 meters.


12. April: Today we go to the campsite at Tortung (3000 meters) in the Yalung valley. Therefore we have to cross the 3310 meter high col Banite Banijang. It is a hard job for our 90 porters and the last porter arrives late at night.


13. April: Today we hike through beautiful forest in the Yalung valley to Tsheram at 3800 meters.


14. April: After a short hike we arrive in Ramche at 4500 m. Here we exchange some of our "lowland" porters for porters from Ghunsa which are more adapted to high altitude.


15. April: We leave from Ramche after 9AM because the next campsite will be on the Yalung glacier. One hour later, at Oktang, we have stunning views on the entire Kangchenjunga massif. This mountain is really huge! From Oktang it goes down to the glacier which is covered with rocks. The next two days we hike over the glacier until we reach the basecamp hill. The night on the glacier is very hard for our porters. Luckily the weather is good.


16. April: The Yalung glacier seems endless, but after climbing the steep hill we reach basecamp (5500 meter) in the afternoon. The long hike to this basecamp should not be underestimated and we are lucky it only took us 9 days. The following days we will use for acclimatization and relaxing.


17. April: The first day in basecamp. We are still a little tired and have the normal small problems with high altitude.


18. April: We try to make a nice and comfortable place of basecamp as far as it goes.


19. April: In the middle of the night our Sherpa's wake us up. Pasan is seriously ill and has fainted twice already. I ask Hector and Araceli for help. They give him an injection with dexamethason which will help him to survive the night. At dawn I call Jangbu with my sat phone and ask him to send a helicopter as soon as possible. At about 10 AM the big MI 17 helicopter lands near basecamp, picks up Passang and returns to Kathmandu. We are all relieved that he is safe now and we hope that he will recover soon. After this serious incident we have the prayer ceremony. We put the prayer flags in the wind and we hope they will bring good luck for the ascent of Kangchenjunga. The rest of the day we sort out the gear for tomorrow, when we will climb to camp 1 (6200

meter) for the first time.


20. April: At 7 AM the sun rises, time to wake up. About one hour later I, Wendi and our three Sherpa’s depart from BC to make the route to camp 1. We put fixed ropes on places were we consider them necessary. In the afternoon the weather turns, bad but almost all of us reach the shoulder where camp 1 will be located. We descent in a snowstorm to BC. We are happy we have opened the route to camp 1, and therefore we have a rest day tomorrow.


21. April: Rest day in BC. We sort out the gear for the next days when we go to Camp 2.


22. April: Our three Sherpa’s, Wendi, Galosch and Tomi climb to Camp I today. I am not in my best shape and turn back after just one hour. Also Hector does not feel well enough to go to camp 1. So we and Araceli stay another day in BC.


23. April: Hector still does not feel good enough today. I have a small infection and want to recover first before going higher. Wendi, Galosch and Tomi descent from camp 1 in the afternoon while the three Sherpa’s went up to fix the route to camp 2. They also come down to BC at 5 PM. They could make it to the last crevasse under the steep ice section to camp 2. They report a lot of snow and serious crevasses in between the

plateau and the steep section to camp 2.


24. April: Today Araceli, Hector and me climb to Camp I.  Galosch goes with us and carries rope for fixing. We spend a nice afternoon in camp 1 and shoot some film. Galosh descends to BC. We hear via the radio that Alan Hinkes has arrived in BC


25. April: We get up at 5 AM. The weather is not very good, but we prepare us for the climb to camp 2. We want to continue the rope fixing work of the Sherpa’s. At 7 AM the sun hits the camp and I go to the traverse which leads to the plateau. I lead the way. It becomes very hot in the sun. Hector takes over half way. Above the plateau the route turns right via a small but dangerous ice hang where we see the depot of our Sherpa’s. Above us it is hard to find a route trough the steep area with big crevasses. Hector and I try to go up but the way is blocked by a huge crevasse. While am sorting the ropes I suddenly see that Hector tries to cross the crevasse on his own and falls in it, with his belay.  Araceli shouts loud and I try to calm her. I go to the rim of the crevasse and try to find out if Hector is still alive.  I am very happy when I discover that he is, and even not hurt! A normal person would have been dead. I fix a rope and lower it to him so he can use his Jumar to descend, followed by his backpack. I am very happy that he is still alive! He survived a 20 meter fall in a crevasse. From now one we only go belayed with rope over the glacier. Today I want to find a safe way up, avoiding this deadly labyrinth, so the Sherpa’s don’t have to go trough this again next time. I send Araceli back to a safe place while I try to get out of the labyrinth with Hector. After making a traverse to the right we find a safe way up, avoiding the crevasses. Now we have cleared the way to camp 2. At 6600 meter we make a depot for the next time to finish the route to camp 2. At 1 PM we descend to camp 1. I grab my things and descend to BC while Araceli and Hector stay in camp 1. Maybe they want to think over the accident. After about one hour I am back in BC where I tell what happened. I am so happy that nobody died. I ask Alan to join our team for dinner.


26. April: Today it is the birthday of Wendi and Alan. We have bad weather in BC. AT 7 AM I contact Araceli and Hector in Camp I via the radio. They come down in the afternoon.  Wendi and Galosch prepare themselves for carrying a load to Camp 1. They leave from BC at 10 AM. Wendi turns back after two hours because he has a serious pain in his knee.  It is better to turn around than to risk permanent damage. The two from camp 1 arrive in BC in the afternoon. Hector feels his knee hurts from the fall in the crevasse. I spend the afternoon reading in a book written by Jamling Tenzing. At night we celebrate the two birthdays with a real Swiss cheese fondue, just like at home.


27. April: Bad weather in BC. We stay here today and Galosch will also descend from camp 1. Everything is good except for the weather. Tonight we have the second great Swiss cheese fondue party.


Kind regards, Norbert Joos


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