Location: Kachin, Myanmar
Elevation: 5,881 meters
Myanmar is a Southeast Asian country known for its pristine beaches and interconnecting canals. But did you know that its highest peak, the Hkakabo Razi, is reputed to be the highest mountain in Southeast Asia? Among the many features of Myanmar, this escalating landform has challenged even the most outstanding mountaineering experts and has led them to remark that climbing this mountain can sometimes be even more difficult than hiking Mt. Everest.
About the Hkakabo Razi
Located in Kachin of Northern Myanmar, this mountain is situated in the subrange of the Greater Himalayan Mountain System and is a vital watershed area for Nmaihka, the eastern Ayeyarwady River.
Included in the Hkakaborazi National Park, the mountain is surrounded by a stretch of evergreen rain forests, semi-deciduous forests and needle-leaved evergreen forests. The route for this trek makes its way through the National Park and will lead trekkers to find a combination of subtropical hill forests and high altitude alpine meadows.
History of Hkakabo Razi
Called upon the locals as Ahtanbum, which means “mysterious Spirit abode,” no one has ventured it for centuries. The first successful ascent, in fact, only took place just decades ago in 1996. Takashi Ozaki and Nyima Gyaltsen were named this peak’s pioneers. Ozaki had stated that climbing this mountain was harder than trekking Mt. Everest.
In 2013, this mountain’s nearby peak, Galang Razi was climbed and elevated at 5,870 meters. This height was taken by utilizing advanced technologies based on GPS. The very same equipment was used by a National Geographic Society and The North Face sponsored expedition to measure this mountain. In a team consisting of Mark Jenkins, Cory Richards, Renan Ozturk, Emily Harrington, and Taylor Rees, they measured and made estimates of the mountain’s height.
The difficulty of the Myanmar Peak
This mountain has baffled many mountaineers on how its altitude, location, ambiance, and conditions have combined to make it one of the most challenging and trickiest peaks to climb. From personal mental battles to dead-end paths, leeches, venomous snakes, and lack of porters and accessible, easier trails, the mountain and the hike towards it host many challenges.
Emily Harrington, a renowned hiker, has remarked that while climbing the mountain, “There were a lot of wrong turns, a lot of back tracking, a lot of intense decision-making.” She also adds that “It was extremely difficult to get there, extremely scary. It involved a lot of climbing on loose rock and snow.”
Others have nicknamed this mountain as the “Anti-Everest” because unlike the famous and frequently visited Mt. Everest, Hkakabo Razi has no infrastructures, porters, or easy trails.
How to get to the mountain
Besides booking an airplane or boat trips to get to the Southeast Asian country Myanmar, a lot of planning on how to reach the area is necessary. Most head to the country’s capital city, Yangon, and then travel to the Hkakaborazi National Park, where the mountain is located.
The peak, however, is situated remotely in this park, and so hikers have to endure a two-week hike or a dirt bike ride through 150 miles of the dense jungle inhabited by abundant wildlife.
What to Prepare
Because hikers have to pass through the jungle’s ambiance to get to the base, they also have to prepare for the jungle’s conditions and what inhabits there.
Besides plotting the readiness of the mind for the alpine environment, hikers must also understand and learn more about jungle survival. Jungles and Mountains bring forth different environments, and for the unfamiliar mountaineer who is too accustomed to the heights and spaces, jungles can trigger claustrophobic feelings.
Warm clothing, food supply, winter sleeping bags, headlamps, thin overbag shells, and the usual mountaineering gear must be brought.
The Jungle Hike towards the Alpine Mountain
The hike inwards the jungle is a sight that not most mountaineers have been used to, but there’s a first time for everything. This whole new experience allows hikers to view the vast and spectacular lands that reside with this magnificent mountain.
From Dahawndam, the trek is taken to reach Hkakabo Razi. The farmland and wheat field will greet hikers before they pass through the Gwelang Creek, whose serene waters flow from the snow that adorns the peaks.
The Masunsong Wang Jungle Camp, which is 7000 feet above sea level, is often known as the area where travelers stop by to sleep overnight for day one. It is also called Shanmara camp.
Facts about the Hike
The hike to Hkakabo Razi brings about unique experiences and amazing sights. Among these are the Rhododendron trees. The Gweanling Creek is decorated with trees perched here and there; plants not seen outside the country.
Adung George, or known by the locals as Masansin, is a river with large boulders. Some trekkers can come across this while on the way to the mountain.
Rare animals such as the Musk Deer can be found. The Musk Deer looks quite like a cat and a dog, but its body and leg features are comparable to that of a deer. They are famous among the people of Myanmar because of packets under their navels, which are believed to have medicinal value.