Top 12 Interesting Facts about Kangchenjunga

The highest and second-highest mountains in the world are probably no secret to you. Mount Everest and K2 are names that probably ring a bell.

Unless you’re a mountaineer or a geography enthusiasts, then the third-highest mountain in the world probably won’t sound that familiar.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the most interesting facts about Kangchenjunga, a majestic peak in the highest mountain range on the planet.

1. It’s located in a particular section of the Himalayas

Kangchenjunga is a majestic mountain of which the name is sometimes spelled as either “Kanchenjunga” or “Khangchendzonga.”

It’s located in the southern part of the Himalayas in a section that was named after it, the Kangchenjunga Himal.

Just like any other range inside the massive arc of the Himalayan mountains, this particular section is full of incredible mountain peaks that literally make you stand in awe.

This section of the highest mountain range in the world is bounded by other natural landmarks on 3 sides:

  • The Tamur River in the west.
  • The Lhonak River and Jongsong Peak in the north.
  • The Teesta River in the east.
Kangchenjunga facts
A view of the south face of this amazing mountain / Ashinpt / Wiki Commons

2. It features 5 peaks of which 3 are located on the border of 2 countries

The Kangchenjunga Himal is located in both Nepal and India and 3 of its most distinctive peaks are located right on the border of these two countries.

The main peak is one of the mountains that is located on the border of the Sikkim state of India and the Taplejung District of Province number 1 of Nepal.

The 5 different peaks and their elevations are:

  • Kangchenjunga Main – 8,586 meters / 28,169 feet
  • Kangchenjunga West – 8,505 meters / 27,904 feet
  • Kangchenjunga Central – 8,482 meters / 27,828 feet
  • Kangchenjunga South – 8,494 meters / 27,867 feet
  • Kangbachen – 7,903 meters / 25,928 feet

Kangchenjunga West and Kangbachen are the only peaks in this list that are entirely located within Nepal.

Kangchenjunga peaks in the sun
The Kangchenjunga peaks in the sun / Santanu Paul / Wiki Commons

3. It was once believed to be the highest mountain in the world

With an incredible elevation of 8,586 meters (28,169 feet) above sea level, Kangchenjunga is officially the third-highest mountain in the world.

I say officially because when the mountain was mapped for the first time in the 19th century, this peak was assumed to be the highest mountain on the planet.

The Great Trigonometrical Survey was launched by the British Empire in the year 1802 in an attempt to map the entire Indian subcontinent.

They reached the area of Sikkim in 1849 and found out that Mount Everest was in fact the highest peak on the planet with an election of 8,848 meters (29,029 feet) above sea level.

K2 is also slightly higher than the peak on the border of India and Nepal as it reaches an elevation of 8,611 meters (28,251 feet).

Kangchenjunga height
The mountain peak in the sun / Johannes Bahrdt / Wiki Commons

4. It borders a national park that was inscribed as a UNESCO site

The Khangchendzonga National Park or Kanchenjunga Biosphere Reserve is a national park located in the Sikkim state of India.

It covers an area of 1,784 square kilometers (689 square miles) east of the mountains and was established in 1977.

Its one of the only national parks in India located in such an elevated area and was therefore inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2016.

This pristine piece of nature can be explored via multiple different hiking routes, many of which start in the historic town of Yuksom.

Khangchendzonga National Park welcome sign
A welcome sign to the national park / Wiki Commons

5. It features 14 protected areas that are home to several endangered animals

The area around the mountain is divided into 3 distinctively different ecoregions:

  • The eastern Himalayan broad-leaved and coniferous forests.
  • The Eastern Himalayan alpine shrub and meadows.
  • The Terai-Duar savanna and grasslands.

There are 14 different protected areas around the mountain and many fascinating animals live here, including snow leopards (Panthera uncia), Asian black bears (Ursus thibetanus), and red pandas (Ailurus fulgens).

Snow Leopards Kangchanjunga
The amazing snow leopard / Eric Kilby / Wiki Commons

More interesting facts about Kangchenjunga

6. Kangchenjunga is the official name given to the mountain by the British explorers who first mapped the region in the 19th century.

This name translates to “The five treasures of the high snow,” a reference to a local belief that treasures such as salt, gold, turquoise, precious stones, and sacred scriptures are hidden there.

7. There are 4 amazing glaciers running down the flanks of the mountain in 4 different directions. The Zemu glacier to the northeast, the Talung glacier to the southeast, the Yalung glacier to the southwest, and the Kangchen glacier to the northwest.

Kangchenjunga glacier
One of the mountain’s glaciers / Wiki Commons

8. All the glaciers on the mountain are located at an elevation of over 5,000 meters (16,000 feet) above sea level before draining into the important rivers in the area.

9. The 4 glaciers that flow down the main peak of the mountain are just a fraction of the total number of glaciers in the Kanchenjunga Himal. There are 120 glaciers in total that cover an area of 314 square kilometers (121 square miles).

10. The first ascent of the mountain happened in 1955. Two English mountaineers named Joe Brown and George Band reached the summit during the 1955 British Kangchenjunga expedition. They did, however, stop shortly before the summit as a token of respect to the Chogyal (monarchs) of Sikkim.

Kangchenjunga peak
Distant view of the amazing mountain / AreJay / Wiki Commons

11. There are 4 routes available to reach the summit and all of them are extremely complicated. 3 routes start in Tibet and one in India. The Indian route has only resulted in 3 successful ascents before being closed by the Indian government in 2000.

12. Climbing the moiuntain can only be done by experienced mountaineers, and even the most experienced climbers have a high chance of not making it. 3% of people who started climbing didn’t make it and the death/ascent rate is over 14%, quite a staggering number.

It looks indeed like an impossible beast to conquer, don’t you think?

Kangchenjunga climbing