Saturday, September 13, 2008


Shishapangma is the fourteenth highest mountain in the world and the lowest of the eight-thousanders. It was the last 8,000 metre peak to be climbed, due to its location entirely within China and the restrictions on outside visitation to the region imposed by the Chinese during the 1950s and later.

The name ''shi sha sbang ma'' means "crest above the grassy plains". The name ''Xīxiàbāngmǎ Fēng'' 希夏幫馬峰 is a phonetic rendition of the Tibetan name. . Another interpretation, based on the spelling Shisha-Pangma, is that the name means, literally, "Sherpa Woman."

Shishapangma is located in south-central Tibet, a few kilometres from the border with Nepal. It is the only eight-thousander entirely within Chinese territory. It is the highest peak in the Jugal Himal, which is contiguous with, and often considered a part of, the Langtang Himal. The combined Jugal/Langtang Himal straddles the Tibet/Nepal border. Since it is on the dry north side of the Himalayan crest, and further away from the lower terrain of Nepal, it has somewhat less dramatic vertical relief than most other major Himalayan peaks.

Shishapangma was first climbed on May 2, 1964 by a expedition led by Xǔ Jìng 许竞. In addition to Xǔ Jìng, the summit team consisted of Zhāng Jùnyán 张俊岩, Wáng Fùzhōu 王富洲, Wū Zōngyuè 邬宗岳, Chén Sān 陈三, Soinam Dorjê , Chéng Tiānliàng 程天亮, Migmar Zhaxi , Dorjê and Yún Dēng 云登.

On 14 January 2005, Piotr Morawski and Simone Moro made the first ascent in calendar winter.

Approximately 22 people have died climbing Shishapangma, including noted American alpinist Alex Lowe and veteran Portuguese climber Bruno Carvalho. Nevertheless, Shishapangma is one of the easiest eight-thousanders to climb. The standard route ascends from the north side, and boasts relatively easy access, with vehicle travel possible to base camp at 5,000 metres . More technically demanding are the routes on the steeper Southwest Face, which involve 2,200 metres of ascent on a 50 degree slope. These are ideal for a alpine style ascent. In 2004, Jean-Christophe Lafaille roused some controversy when he climbed a route on this face, solo, in mid-December, and claimed a winter ascent. Since this was not technically calendar winter, he later changed his claim to an ascent "in winter conditions."

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