The name is derived from the Tibetan words, ‘Kanchen’ and ‘Dzonga’ meaning ‘Five Treasures of the Great Snow’. While the highest summit is 28,156 feet, the Second highest peak is 27,820 feet, thus falling short of the former by 336 feet only. Four colossal ridges of inconceivable dimensions of rocks, ice, and snow abut upon this massif, which culminates in a peak 28,156 feet high. These ridges are named according to their respective directions with reference to the great centrepiece to which they are attached.
There is absolutely no direct route to any of these summits, which are accessible, if at all, by first ascending any of these ridges, and then, say, reaching some ice terraces suitable for camping, and lastly attempting the summit. The final climbing to the rock pyramid may ascent of a vertical height ranging from 1,000 to 1,500 feet is extremely trying, as at that tremendous altitude every step upward is devitalizing to an incredible extent.
With more than 250 species of birds and wildlife, and high mountain lakes in Olangchungola, the Kanchenjunga area has some of the most stunning scenery. The indomitable bamboo appears in many varieties, of¬ten the last lanky vegetation to give way to alpine grasses and scrub rhododen¬dron. Above the crystalline lake of Ramser, a trail skirts the massive Yalung Glacier up to Oktang for prime views of Jannu, the southern face of Kanchenjunga and the line of peaks that divide Nepal from Sikkim. Yalung Glacier is believed to be the longest blue glacier in the world.
The Kanchenjunga region has been selected as one of the 200 Global Eco Regions recognized by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and is protected by the government as the Kanchenjunga Conservation Area (KCA). Ten species among Nepal’s 20 indigenous gymnosperms and 15 among Nepal’s 28 endemic flowering plants are found here. Juniper and Himalayan larch are abundant in the forests with more than 1,200 species of flowering plants. The Kanchenjunga region also boasts of 30 varieties of rhododendrons and 69 varieties of orchids. Birds found here include Impheyan pheasant, red-billed blue magpie and shy drongo, while rare wildlife include Himalayan black bear, snow leopard, musk deer, red panda, blue sheep and rhesus macaw.
Trek to the region also appeases natural history interest, with ecological zones from the subtropics to glacial wilderness. The hills are densely forested with rhododendron, oak, and pine; and wooden houses and frequent waterfalls confirm a copious monsoon. At Ghunsa, a Sherpa village marked with prayer flags and a gompa, two trails from Kanchenjunga’s southern flanks join the northbound route. Like treks into other far-reaching areas, the Kanchenjunga trek encounters a vast range of elevations and temperatures, and is best planned for September-November or March-May, with the possibility of snowfall at any time of year.