Mountaineering Information of Sikkim

Mountaineering Information of Sikkim

The Sikkim Himalayas, the epitome of the world's mountains, encompass a wonderland, which for sheer beauty and magnificence remains unbeaten elsewhere in the globe. In the southwestern part of Sikkim, in the main Himalayan range, lies the majestic Khangchendzonga or Kanchenjunga, rising to a staggering height of 8,585 m (28,169 ft) above sea level. Beside this third largest peaks, other famous mountaineering peaks in Sikkim include- Kabru, Kirat Chulior Tent Peak 7,365 m) and Siniolchu (6,887 m). Mountaineering expeditions, unlike trekking, require more planning and paperwork as clearance is required from the Indian Mountaineering Foundation, New Delhi. Besides these the local governments also impose royalties on certain peaks.

The first European to explore the Khangchendzonga area was Douglas W. Freshfield who reached its base in 1899 from the Green Lake Basin area. A German expedition led by Paul Bauer made the first attempt to reach the summit in 1929 followed by another attempt in 1931 and reached an altitude of 26,000 ft. In 1955 Charles Evans conquered Khangchendzonga a few feet below the summit from the Nepal side.

In 1977 an expedition led by Major Prem Chand reached a few feet below the summit. In 1987 an Assam Rifles expedition attempted the peak. In 1991 an Indo Japanese expedition led by Hukam Singh and Yoshio Ogata conquered the peak.

The Kabru was first climbed in 1935 by a British C.R. Cooke. The Pyramid Peak was first conquered in 1949 by a Swiss R. Dittert. A British A.M. Kallas, climbed the Paunhri in 1911. The summit of Siniolchu was first reached by a German in 1936. It was later again climbed by the famous Sikkimese Everester Sonam Gyatso. Pandim was climbed in 1993 by a team from the Sonam Gyatso Mountaineering Institute. Rathong was conquered by an Indian expedition in 1964.

Khangchendzonga (8585 mtrs/ 28,146 ft) is considered the Guardian Deity of Sikkim. For sentimental, religious and other environmental reasons, permission is not granted by the Sikkim government is to scale the peak. Rathong (22,000 ft.) has some of the open peaks though they require special permits. The best known peaks in Sikkim - Talung, Jonsong and Tent are all above 24,000 feet.

Recently the government has opened some of the peaks to promote mountain tourism in the state vide notification No.25/HOME/2006 dated 20/03/2006  issued by the Home Department, government of Sikkim, the following peaks have been open for mountaineering from the 17th  September 2005.

Peaks in West Sikkim

Name of Peak Height Location Grade
Frey Peak 5830 mtrs Chauringang AD+
Mt. Tenchenkhang 5603 mtrs West Sikkim D
Mt. Joponu 6010 mtrs West Sikkim D+

Peaks in North Sikkim

Name of Peak Height Location Grade
Lama Wangden
5868 mtrs. Lachen AD
Brumkhngse 5635 mtrs. Yumthang D

The permits for the above mentioned peaks will be issued by the Home Department. The amount mentioned below has to be paid in Gangtok, Sikkim, after the permit is granted by the Indian Mountaineering Foundation, New Delhi.

Expedition Royalties

The following royalties are levied for the expeditions.
For foreign expedition teams: US$350 per team of upto four members, US$ 500 per team of upto eight members and US$ 75 for every additional member.

Insurance

The following minimum insurance coverage is compulsory.

  • Expedition members: Rs. 3 lakhs per member
  • Camp crew: Rs. 1 lakh per person
  • Porters: Rs. 50,000/- per person
  • Animals: Rs. 20,000/- per animal

Essentials

The best season to climb in Sikkim is from May to October. Foreign expeditions have to book a peak along with a peak fee. The Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF) is the country's apex body that helps in organizing/ sponsoring mountaineering expeditions. It is mandatory for Expeditions in Sikkim to take a liason officer from the Sikkim Mountaineering Association along with the liason officer from the Indian Mountaineering Foundation. IMF functions as a clearing house for foreign expeditions and deputes a liasion officer to accompany foreign climbers. All requests have to be forwarded to IMF for clearance.

It is advisable to give at least a six month's notice before embarking on an expedition. Rescue operations during emergencies and accidents are looked after by the liasion officer.