Climbing Fansipan – highest peak of Indochina

Last 2 weeks in a small company of friends we traveled across Vietnam. One of the main goals for our expedition was to reach the so-called Roof of Indochina, the highest peak of Vietnam and Indochina – Fansipan. We did not expect the climb to be so heavy. The trail was very steep and mostly ran in the rain forests and bamboo groves, by wet and slippery roots and rocks.

Sapa is a mountainous area in northern Vietnam near the Chinese border. The most convenient way to get there is by night train. We departure from Hanoi around 8pm, slept well in our 4 bed compartment and at 5am we got a border town. There was tropical weather still around and our Ligita was bitten by the first mosquito. That reminded to start using malaria pills.

After an hour in stuffed shuttle bus we reached Sapa. We got out and nearly froze in the cold. The valleys 30 C temperature here in the mountains had shrunk to barely 15

In few moments we got a lot of helpful people proposing to assist for our climb to Fansipan.

Today we had to climb to the 2800 m camp, then early morning to the top, and then for the same day to carry all the way back. The trail started from mountain pass and immediately dived into the jungle. At first we climbed up by some river valley. We went to classical rain forest with huge trees and splendid plants. In our homeland we grow them in pots by one, but here they grow in the open air in healthy meadows. Hmong carriers with their national costumes and bamboo baskets made the landscape even more exotic. The men pulled the mountain tents, food, drinks and live pig for dinner. The last was so heavy that porters dragged him over to the roots. Responding on this bad attitude the piglet constantly screamed.

In first camp 2200 meters a.s.l we were able to gradually get to know other climbers of that day. There was one Vietnamese group, wearing all the national symbols, and few more white skins.

After a few hours we came out on the ridge. Countless hills appeared and our trail as belt snaking over them higher and higher. But looking closer the romantic landscape turned into a wet bamboo forest with slimy rocks and roots, anyone could slip every single moment. Steeper sections were equipped with metal stairs.

Camp 2800 reminded the army base. We got a metal hangar, which was fucking dank and with a constantly dripping condensation. Today we had so many night stayees so we had to share each mat by two persons. Hmong woman provided for sale all drinks they carried from valley … for double the price, of course. Next building wrapped in blue plastic was kitchen. Soon our friend piglet squeaked the last time. Rapidly darkened.

We had no need to dress up in the morning as all possible clothes were already on us during night. I think temperature was around 0.

At 6am we were already high above the camp. The route mostly went through the bamboo groves. The trail was so wet and clayey, that the summit could only be reached by grabbing for bamboo stalks in sides of the path.

Around eight in the mist we heard our friends from the Vietnamese group screaming . It turned out they already balanced over the top. The top was in a heavy cloud, so the surrounding panorama this time left only in our imagination. Made lot of pics with flag of our friends.

Reaching top of Fansipan appeared far from even half of effort. Way down requested much more attention and awarded us with several falls. Once cord of my shoes lassoed to bamboo shoot. Imagine my flight after trying to make next step.

This man in white shirt comes directly from the top. This morning we saw him up there exactly in the same clothes. I guess for Vietnamese reaching Fansipan is a great honor.

Here is our small group, including porters. It was hard to say if they are children or already middle-aged men …