Shishapangma is the 14th highest mountain in the world, and the only 8,000m peak lying solely in Tibet. Shishapangma is considered by many to be one of the most approachable 8,000m peaks to climb because of its direct route and relatively short approach to Base Camp. For a peak of this size and stature, the Northwest Ridge, our climbing route, offers a direct route to Shishapangma’s Central Summit. A knife-edge ridge connects the slightly lower Central Summit to the mountain’s South Summit at 8,013m (26,289′). This final section of the climb can prove very challenging but is the team’s ultimate goal. We travel from Kathmandu to the “Chinese Driver’s Camp” by jeep and from there a long 10-mile one-day walk with yaks brings us to the established climber’s Base Camp. We dedicate up to 28 days to the climb.
Our approach to trekking differs notably from many other guide services as we intentionally keep our team small. Instead of running a large expedition with many climbers, we focus our attention on leading a more personal climbing team, concentrating our resources on each individual to ensure the safest, most enjoyable, and most successful experience possible for each one of our climbers. Our expedition is fully staffed and no extras or add-ons are needed. The smaller team ratios and thoroughly organized expedition facilitates better team dynamics, closer communication, individualized attention, and helps avoid the fragmentation inherent to larger expeditions. We believe this creates the strongest, safest, and most enjoyable climbing team possible.
Shishapangma, also called Gosainthan, is the 14th highest mountain in the world at 8,027 metres (26,335ft) above sea level. It is the last 8,000-metre peak to be climbed, due to its location entirely within Tibet and the restrictions on visits by foreign travelers to the region imposed by authorities of the Government of China and of the Tibet Autonomous Region.
Geologist Toni Hagen explained the name as meaning a “grassy plain” or “meadow” (pangma) above a “comb” or a “range” (shisha or chisa) in the local Tibetan dialect, thereby signifying the “crest above the grassy plains”.
On the other hand, Tibetologist Guntram Hazod records a local story that explains the mountain’s name in terms of its literal meaning in the Standard Tibetan language: shisha, which means “meat of an animal that died of natural causes” and sbangma which means “malt dregs left over from brewing beer”. According to the story, one year a heavy snowfall killed most of the animals at pasture. All that the people living near the mountain had to eat was the meat of the dead animals and the malt dregs left over from brewing beer, and so the mountain was named Shisha Pangma (shisha sbangma), signifiying “meat of dead animals and malty dregs”.
The Sanskrit name of the mountain, Gosainthan, means “place of the saints” or “Abode of God”. Still, its most common name is Shishapangma.
Shishapangma is located in south-central Tibet, five kilometres from the border with Nepal. It is the only eight-thousander entirely within Chinese territory. It is also the highest peak in the Jugal Himal which is connected to and often considered part of Langtang Himal. The Jugal/Langtang Himal stands on the Tibet/Nepal border. Since Shishapangma is on the dry north side of the Himalayan crest and further from the lower terrain of Nepal, it has less dramatic vertical relief than most major Himalayan peaks.
Shishapangma has a subsidiary peak higher than 8,000m: Central-Peak at 8,008m (26,273ft).
Some of Shishapangma’s ascents are not well verified, or still in dispute. Some climbers claim to have reached the summit when in fact they reached the slightly lower central (west) summit at 8,013m (26,289ft), which is still almost two hours climbing from the 14-metre-higher (46 ft), true summit of 8,027m (26,335ft). Respected Himalayan chronicler and record keeper, Elizabeth Hawley, famously got Ed Viesturs (amongst others), to re-climb the true main summit of Shishapangma in his quest to climb all 14 eight-thousanders. Her “Himalayan Database” would not accept central (west) summit ascents as full ascents of Shishapangma.
31 people have died climbing Shishapangma, including Americans Alex Lowe and Dave Bridges in 1999, veteran Portuguese climber Bruno Carvalho and also noted Bulgarian climber Boyan Petrov, who disappeared on 3rd May 2018. Nevertheless, Shishapangma is regarded as one of the easiest eight-thousanders to climb. The most common ascent via the Northern Route ascends via the northwest face and northeast ridge and face, and has relatively easy access, with vehicle travel possible to base camp at 5,000m (16,400ft). Routes on the steeper southwest face are more technically demanding and involve 2,200 metres (7,220ft) of ascent on a 50-degree slope.
Shishapangma was first climbed via the Northern Route on 2 May 1964 by a Chinese expedition led by Xǔ Jìng. In addition to Xǔ Jìng, the summit team consisted of Zhāng Jùnyán, Wang Fuzhou, Wū Zōngyuè, Chén Sān, Soinam Dorjê, Chéng Tiānliàng, Migmar Zhaxi, Dorjê and Yún Dēng.