Sikkim - Along the Singalila Ridge and Kangchenjunga south-east
October / November 2005


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The Singalila Ridge separates Sikkim from Eastern Nepal. It extends from Darjeeling all the way to Kangchenjunga to the North and affords the finest views of Kangchenjunga, at 8586m the world's third highest mountain, as well as distant views of Everest.

The ridge is heavily forested with oak and rhododendron forest and has superb views of many well known peaks- Everest, Lhotse, Makalu and Kangchenjunga and Chomolhari.

Sikkim is one of India's most beautiful states, situated between India and Tibet, bordered by Nepal, Bhutan and West Bengal. The population is mainly Buddhist and with the very high rainfall experienced by the eastern Himalaya (nothing stands between Sikkim and the Bay of Bengal to stop the rain) making it very lush with a rich flora and fauna. Over 700 species of birds have been recorded in Sikkim and more than 4000 species of flowering plants.

The trek along the ridge has been a popular one since the days of the British Raj but we wanted to combine the northern part of the Singalila ridge trek with another trek taking us closer to Kanchengjunga. Unfortunately, just before we were due to start local political machination closed part of the Singalila Ridge to trekkers.
We had to improvise and cut through fairly unkonwn territory in order to rejoin our planned trek route at Danphebir pass.

This meant no ridge walking but plenty of trekking through pristine jungles. No deforestation here and as the annual rainfall in this part of the word is close to 5.000 mm it to say the least!



In the rain forest between Naya Patal and Yambong



In the rain forest between Naya Patal and Yambong



After 5 days of trekking (we started from Nambu which is not too far from the small town of Pelling) we finally got out of the jungle and the mists and had our first mountain view at the Danphebir pass (4572 m)


Danphebir pass



Descending from the pass the weather clears and we see our first "proper" mountains: Pandim, Koktang, Ratong, Kabru, Kabru Dome as well as some excellent views of Jannu in the distance. Eventually the weather clears enough to see Kanchengjunga.


Below Danphebir pass



A couple of days later at Yangseb (3880m). We are camping in a clearing in a huge rhododendron forest but unfortunately November is not the flowering season. The weather is still unsettled which is a pity. Otherwise we would have taken a day off here and could have gone up to explore the valley (in the middle of the photo) which ends at the border with Nepal. According to one of our guides it was only a few hours away and very tempting...but the weather was too unsettled.


Breakfast all fresco in Yangseb



A short trek up to Panding, a fairly desolate camp on a wind-swept ridge at 4220m. The clouds cleared for a beautiful sunset giving us superb views of Koktang, Ratong, Kabru and Kabru Dome at sunset.


Sunset over  Ratong, Kabru and Kabru Dome



After a cold and windy night in Panding the weather cleared for more great views of Koktang, Ratong, Kabru and Kabru Dome at sunrise. And yes, it was worth getting out of our sleeping bags for it.


Sunrise over Kabru and Kabru Dome



Sunrise over Kabru and Kabru Dome



On the way from Panding to Bikbari, a deserted yak pasture (they come up here in summer) and great views of Koktang and Ratong.


Koktang and Ratong


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