|Elevation||5,881 m (19,295 ft) |
|Listing||Country high point|
Tibet Autonomous Region, China
|First ascent||15 September 1996 |
|Easiest route||snow/ice climb|
Hkakabo Razi (Burmese: ခါကာဘိုရာဇီ, pronounced: [kʰàkàbò ɹàzì]; simplified Chinese: 开加博峰; traditional Chinese: 開加博峰; pinyin: Kāijiābó Fēng) is Burma's highest mountain, and with its height of 5,881 m (19,295 ft) the highest mountain in South East Asia. It is located in the northern Myanmar state of Kachin in an outlying subrange of the Greater Himalayan mountain system near the border tri-point with China and India. Its highest status has recently been challenged by Gamlang Razi, 6.6 km WSW on the Chinese border.
The peak is enclosed within Hkakabo Razi National Park. The park is entirely mountainous and is characterized by broad-leaved evergreen rain forest, a sub-tropical temperate zone from 8,000 to 9,000 feet (2,400–2,700 m), then broad-leaved, semi-deciduous forest and finally needle-leaved evergreen, snow forest. Above 11,000 feet (3,400 m), the highest forest zone is alpine, different not only in kind from the forest, but different in history and origin. Still higher up, around 15,000 feet (4,600 m), cold, barren, windswept terrain and permanent snow and glaciers dominate. At around 17,500 feet (5,300 m), there is a large ice cap with several outlet glaciers.
Hkakabo Razi was established as a natural reserve on January 30, 1996 and as a national park on November 10, 1998. The Khakaborazi National Park is the last stronghold for biodiversity in Myanmar. Extraordinarily rich flora and fauna, ranging from lowland tropical to alpine species still await proper research and identification. They have barely been studied, and the park remains an excellent center for field study for students of botany, geology, zoology and geography.
The summit of Hkakabo Razi has an alpine climate Köppen Climate Classification (ET). Snow is more common than rain during the winter season. During a cold wave in 2009, the lowest ever recorded temperature in Myanmar is −57.9 °C (−72.2 °F). The highest was 23 °C (73 °F).
A study was done by the Forest Department with the assistance of Wildlife Conservation Society of New York during 1997 and 1998. The results have been presented in ICIMOD sponsored Workshop "Sub-regional Consultation on Conservation of Hkakabo Razi Mountain Ecosystems in Eastern Himalayas", held in Putao, Myanmar during 25–29 October 1999. This was followed in 2001 with an international, interdisciplinary team of scientists from the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, National Geographic Society, Harvard University, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and the Myanmar Forestry Ministry. On 11 September 2001, herpetologist Joseph Slowinski, team leader from California Academy of Sciences, was bitten by a venomous krait and died in the field.
In 2002-2003, P. Christiaan Klieger, anthropologist from California Academy of Sciences and photographer Dong Lin retraced their previous steps, and succeeded in making the first anthropological survey of the Hkakabo Razi region. On foot they reached the northern-most village in Myanmar, Tahaundam, which is inhabited by about 200 Khampa Tibetans, including mountaineer Nyama Gyaltsen (see below).
The region will shortly be opened to the general public through eco-tourism by the Myanmar authorities. The government is collecting information for development in that regard and a number of scientific expeditions have been already accepted in the region.
Only a few Westerners ever made it to Mt. Hkakabo Razi, the National Park or anywhere close to it. Captain B.E.A. Pritchard was the first Westerner to visit the Alun Dung valley, in 1913.
Takashi Ozaki (Japan, 1951-May 14, 2011) and Nyima Gyaltsen (aka "Aung Tse"; Burma) made the first ascent in 1996. Ozaki had attempted the mountain in 1995 but was turned back due to bad weather. Ozaki died May 14, 2011 while attempting to summit Mt. Everest. The route to basecamp is long (four weeks) and arduous through dense rain forest with many unbridged stream crossings. The recentness of the first ascent can also be attributed to the policy that foreigners were not allowed into the area until 1993.
In 2013, the nearby peak of Gamlang Razi was climbed and measured at 5,870 meters (19,259 ft) using an advanced version of GPS, making it possibly the highest in Myanmar. Okazaki had confirmed Hkakabo's height as 5881 m, but he did not yet have the GPS equipment to measure the exact height of Hkakabo Razi.
In August 2014 an all-Burmese expedition took a new route up the north face. Two team-members, Ko Aung Myint Myat and Ko Wai Yan Min Thu, reached the summit on August 31 for the second ascent of the mountain, placing a flag, plaque and Buddha image. The climbers ran out of batteries right after summiting and radio contact was lost. After they failed to return to the lower camps, a rescue operation was set into place. The search for the missing climbers continued into October. It involved a helicopter crash landing, leading to the death of one pilot and an 11-day survival trek by the other pilot and the passenger mountaineer.
In November 2014, a National Geographic Society / The North Face sponsored expedition set out to measure the height of Hkakabo Razi using the same equipment as the Gamlang Razi team. The 2014 group was led by Hilaree O'Neill, and also included Mark David Jenkins, Cory Richards, Renan Ozturk, Emily Harrington, and Taylor Rees. On November 7, 2014, Jenkins, Richards, and Ozturk made the final attempt at the summit but turned back at 5,742 meters (18,840 ft). They estimated that the summit lay an additional 800 feet (ca. 240 meter) higher.
- Tamotsu Nakamura, Veiled Mountains in North Myanmar, Japanese Alpine News 2015
- Kayleigh Long, Gamlang Razi expedition reaches summit, The Myanmar Times, 19 September 2013.
Trevor Brown, Gamlang Razi – Setting the Elevation Straight
- Klieger, P. Christiaan (2006). "A Tale of the Tibeto-Burman 'Pygmies'". In P. Christiaan Klieger. Proceedings of the Tenth Seminar of the IATS, 2003, Volume 2 Tibetan Borderlands. Leiden: Brill Academic Press. ISBN 978-90-04-15482-7.
- Frederique Gely-Ozaki, Hkakabo Razi, The Himalayan Journal, Volume 52, 1996
- Andy Tyson, Gamlang Razi. A first ascent in Myanmar's mysterious mountains., The American Alpine Journal, 56, page 45 (2014)
- Myi Nyi Aung, Invitation of Nature (Mt. Hkakabo Razi-North Face ascent 31.08.2014) Expedition Blog
- Burmese Climbers Reach Hkakabo Razi's Peak, The Irrawaddy, 1 September 2014
- Before travellers go explorers, The Myanmar Times, 19 September 2014
- San Yamin Aung, Burmese Pilot Found Dead in Kachin State, The Irrawaddy, 9 October 2014
- A crash course in survival, Bangkok Post, 4 January 2015
- Kelley McMillan, On Myanmar's Mystery Peak, Drama and a Challenge Like No Other, National Geographic Magazine, January 16, 2015