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Overcoming Fansipan Mountain

April 27, 2011

When I get the chance I will return to tell you about our cooking class in Hanoi and share with you one of the recipes.  It was a fabulous experience and a great opportunity to learn Vietnamese cooking techniques.  But, for now I am going to share with you our climb to the top of Fansipan mountain. 

Matt did overcome this mountain!  And, I successfully made it to the first base camp at 2200 meters where I decided to stay behind.  I had my own very unique experience staying with a HMong tribal woman who did not speak any English.  Below is the porter’s wife on the left and the woman who cared for me on the right.  She was a jovial woman who spent the day embroidering cloth, cutting fire wood, and cooking.

Sadly, I was unable to conquer this mountain but this is not a walk for the faint of heart.  It is for people who are in great physical condition.  The hike is steep, straight up rocks, and huge beech tree roots.  It is pure untouched jungle with a very narrow walking path and it makes our climb to the top of Ben Nevis seem like a sidewalk stroll through the park!

Thùòng, our English-speaking guide was so amazing.  He was patient and understanding taking his time as I slowly made my way to the first base camp.  The hike was grueling and challenging right from the first step.  The mud was extremely slick and it was easy to lose your footing.  The path was a series of steep rock faces that required some scrambling.  We made it to the first camp in a few hours but it was difficult walking for me (clearly I’m not conditioned for this kind of extreme climbing).  Together, Matt and I decided it was best for me to stay at the first base camp (2200m).  He would continue with Thùòng, our guide and Vàng our HMong porter and his wife to the second base camp at 2800m.  Thùòng explained that the first section was the easy part and it would continue to get more challenging from there.  The first half was too challenging for me and although I am not a person who likes to give up, I humbly bowed out because I feared if I made it up I would not have the strength to return down.

Matt’s journey to the second camp went well and they made excellent time.  They made it to the second camp at about 5pm…I know this because they called me on a CELL PHONE…tribal people have cell phones!?! Things that make you go huh?!?  Dinner and to bed for both of us in our separate camps.

The next morning the boys continued to the top of Fansipan leaving for the summit at about 7:30am on April 27th.  It was a beautifully clear day and the sun was shining.  Perfect for spectacular views of both Loas and China…but it all just looks like mountain ranges.

Vàng, our porter and Matt at the top proudly raise the flag of Vietnam.  The three boys took time to enjoy the views, take photos, and drink some happy water (rice alcohol).  It’s all downhill from here.

The boys made their way down from the summit to the first base camp to pick me up at about 2pm.  During this time many other climbers had passed through this camp.  Some hot and winded, others excited about the climb, but most of them were not sure what lay ahead.  And, on the horizon ~ rain…my worst fear.  I was terrified about making our way down the slick rock face but in the end it was much easier than climbing up.  We made it down in good time about 2 hours…YEAH!!!

Love Sapa.  The End.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. mrs. turns permalink
    April 29, 2011 11:10 am


    ps: nice hair


  2. April 30, 2011 1:07 pm

    You two are brave!!!

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