South Canterbury climber fails to reach summit of Mt Kanchenjunga due to a lack of rope

Chris Jensen Burke on Mt Kanchenjunga.
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Chris Jensen Burke on Mt Kanchenjunga.

A "critical" miscommunication error prevented South Canterbury climber Chris Jensen Burke and her team from reaching the summit of the world's third highest mountain.

Information that the route to the summit had not been fully set was not known until the team were a few hundred metres from the summit, making it unsafe to continue.

The climbers put their safety first and decided to descend all the way back to Base Camp.  

In an update from her blog Jensen Burke said the team did not summit due to a "route setting issue" because "the rope supply had run out".

Her team was told they would only need about 200m of rope to reach the summit, and that the route to the summit had already been set before her team arrived at Camp 4.

This "turned out to be critically incorrect. But we would not find this out until nearly 12 hours later, when it was too late", she said. 

"As daylight broke we watched the conga-line ahead that poor Matt and Chris W were now stuck in- it appeared not to move for well over an hour."

"I was so stunned I could hardly speak."

Jensen Burke and her team, which includes American mountaineers Chris Warner and Matt du Puy, delayed their final climb to the summit of Mt Kanchenjunga by one day to give them an extra day at base camp to prepare for the climb. 

The team had hoped to arrive at the summit on May 17, after leaving base camp on May 14. 

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Jensen Burke hoped to make another attempt for the summit before the end of May.

Her teammates had abandoned a second attempt due to a chest infection and cough and had flown out of Base Camp on May 18. 

If the remaining team reaches the summit of Mt Kanchenjunga, Jensen Burke will have climbed 10 of the world's highest peaks above 8000 metres - she hopes to conquer 14 in total. 

Only two other women have achieved the feat before her.

 - Stuff

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