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Climbing Mount Kailash: Is Mount Kailash Climbable?

Mt. Kailash (Kangrinboqe) is the main peak of the Gangdise Mountains of the Himalaya range, located in Pulan County, Ali, Tibet China. With a height of only 6,656 meters (21,778 feet) above sea level, Mount Kailash is more than 2,000 meters lower than the world's highest peak, Mount Everest, at 8,844 meters. However, no one has ever climbed Mount Kailash summit. Is mount Kailash climbable? Here're mysterious events and religious legends of Mount Kailash that might give you the answer.

Is Mount Kailash Climbable?

Kailash range is regarded as the sacred mountains by four religions. That is Bon, Tibetan Buddhism, Hinduism, and Ancient Jainism. Gang Rinpoche means "mountain of gods" in Tibetan. It is called Kailāsa Parvata in Sanskrit, and means "Shiva's paradise". It is speculated from the records in the Indian and the Tibetan historical books, people’s pilgrimage of Mount Kailash can be traced back to 1000 BC. In religious believes, climbing mount Kailash will offend the gods, and climbing to the Mount Kailash summit without authorization will not only trigger local people's dissatisfaction but also cause pilgrims' condemnation from the world. In a word, this mountain is something in people's souls. In order to respect the faith, no one is allowed to climb it.

Mount Kailash is regarded as the king of mountains and the center of the world.
Mount Kailash is regarded as the king of mountains and the center of the world.

Allusions About Mount Kailash

In Buddhism

Mount Kailash is known as Mount Meru in Buddhist texts. Tibetan Buddhism believes that this is the home of Cakrasaṃvara Tantra, who represents supreme happiness, and it is also the site where Milarepa defeated the Bons. According to legend, Master Milarepa once climbed the summit of Mount Kailash during a battle. Milarepa is the master of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism. In 1093, Milarepa arrived in Kailash mountain to promote his teaching method. Since his fame had already spread, when he arrived, he was greeted with a grand reception by the believers. This makes Bon master, Naro Bönchung very dissatisfied. The two struggled, but cannot tell the winner. Then they agreed that whoever climbed to the kangrinboqe peak would be the master of the mountain. As a result, Master Milarepa was the first to ascend the summit of Kailash and win on claiming the mountain for Buddhism. Since then, Naro Bönchung has lived and practiced on Mount Bönri on the east side of Kailash Mountain, where he can look up at the sacred mountain.

In Bon

Bon is a native religion in Tibet. During the Bon Religion period, Kailash was called the “nine-story Swastika Mountain”. Swastika is an ancient icon in Bon religion. Looking from the south of the mountain, you can see a swastika emblem composed of a huge vertical ice trough and horizontal rock. It is said that 360 gods of Bon religion lived here. When Patriarch Shenrab Miwo descended from the sky, he landed just on this mountain.

In Hinduism

Hinduism calls the mountain Kailash and believes it to be the center of the world. Among the three main gods in Hinduism, God Shiva, the most powerful and highest-status god, is said to lives here with his wife, goddess Parvati. The mountain is close to Mansarovar lake. Mansarovar lake is also a Hindu sacred site. According to Hindu lore, this lake was created from the heart of the creator God Brahma. Kailash-Lake Manasarovar region is the source of many rivers and is the upper reaches of the Indus, Brahmaputra. So many believers make a pilgrimage to do Kailash Manasarovar yatra every year.

Mount Kailash is close to Mansarovar lake
Kailash-Lake Manasarovar region is a sacred site in the religion

In Jainism

In Jainism, which emerged in the 5th and 6th centuries BC, mount Kailash was known as Ashtarvada, namely the highest mountain. This is the mountain where Patriarch Rishabhanatha attained nirvana.

Mount Kailash Mysteries

Some people may be curious why Mount Everest, Lhotse, and Cho Oyu allow people to reach the top since they are all sacred mountains too? Climbing some sacred mountains is regarded as an act of "pilgrimage", while others must never be climbed.

In 1991, all 17 members of the Chinese and Japanese scientific expedition team who climbed mount Kailash were killed in an avalanche. Many pilgrims consider this a punishment for blasphemy.

Another mystery about mount Kailash is Qiemo. Qiemo means savage in Tibetan. In 1996, the Chinese and Korean mountaineering team climbed Mount Kailash. On the way, the Chinese team found a string of strange footprints and took photos. That is Qiemo. In history, Germany has ever organized two trips to Tibet, the first of which was to explore the origin of the Aryan race, and the Aryans here may be the so-called Qiemo.

During one of the Kailash expeditions in 1998, the team tried to reach the top of Mount Kailash but gave up on the advice of the monks. Later, they learned that four climbers had reached one of the summits of the Kailash range and had aged so rapidly that they had died of various diseases within a year or two.

The Pyramid-like Mountain is Difficult to Climb

The other reason that it is hard to climb is due to Mount Kailash's pyramid appearance and harsh environment. The image of Himalaya Kailāsa Parvata (Mount Kailash) is peculiar and magnificent. It is not the highest mountain in this region, but only the snow-covered Kailash peak all year round can shine with a strange light under the sun. Coupled with the summit of Mount Kailash is shaped like a pyramid, and the four walls are very symmetrical. It looks like a thorn straight into the sky, completely different from the surrounding peaks. Therefore, the slopes of the mountain are almost vertical, and the strong wind makes it almost impossible to stand on. In addition, the high altitude makes climbing more difficult.

Pyramid-like image of Mount Kailash
The image of Himalaya Kailāsa Parvata is like a pyramid

Mount Kailash Pilgrimage

Since mount Kailash is not climbable, most people choose to do Kailash yatra (trek around Kailash) to express their admiration for the sacred site. It is said that when pilgrims come here to go around the mountain, they can wash away their sins of a lifetime; Making ten Kailash yatra can save you from the suffering of hell in five hundred rebirths. A hundred Kailash yatra can attain Buddhahood and ascend to heaven in this life. One Kailash yatra around the mountain in the "Year of the Horse", in which Shakyamuni was born, can increase 12 times of merit. That is equivalent to thirteen Kailash yatra in other Chinese zodiac calendar years. Whatsmore, the merits increased are most and long effective.

kailash yatra
Kailash yatra is popular among the pilgrims of Buddhism, Hinduism, Bonism and Jainism.

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Typically Asked Questions from Our Clients

Asked by Tuhi***

I am interested rock climbing

Answered by Beatrice

Dear Tuhin, Thank you for sending us an inquiry!  Mount Kailash is not climbable as it's the holy mountain. However, we can help you get to the foot of the mountain. If you have any further questions or doubts, please let me know without hesitation. 

Asked by Vish***

My name vishal kumar i am from himachal i want climb mount kailash but i dont knowhow can i do this i will sending many mail govt office but they no reply
so please help me i want do this my contact no 7018036367

Answered by Catherine

Dear Vishal Kumar,  We specialize in arranging Tibet travel for foreigners, as well as other parts of China & Nepal.  In your inquiry, you mentioned you would like to go to Mount Kailash. The authorized partners of the non-governmental organization "Pilgrim Reception Center" can also help you get a Tibet visa. We can organize the tour for you. The pilgrimage is usually organized in a 30+ group and lasts 13 days, setting off on fixed dates from Kathmandu. At present, the Tibet border is closed due to pandemics. There are no departure dates and groups. Later, when Tibet opens again, we can update you with details. If you have any further questions or doubts please let me know without hesitation, it is my pleasure to work with you at any time. Looking forward to hearing from you! 

Asked by Vara***

Sir I am interested in climbing Mount Kailash

Answered by Beatrice

Dear Vara prasad,

Mt.Kailash is a holy mountain in Tibet and it's prohibited to climb. If you just want to visit this place, we can arrange it for you. 

Asked by RIPU***

Since, Mount KAILASH is located in China occupied Tibet, Can Indian Pilgrims and devotees Pay a visit or Worship without Owning a Passport..??

Answered by Catherine

Dear Ripunjoy Barman, Thank you for sending us an inquiry! This is Catherine from Great Tibet Tour at your service.  Great Tibet Tour is a local tour operator based in Lhasa, Tibet. It was founded in 2005 and recommended by Lonely Planet as one of the best reputed local Tibet travel agencies. We specialize in arranging Tibet travel for foreigners, as well as other parts of China & Nepal.  In your inquiry, you mentioned you would like to pay a visit to Kailash. Yes, Indian pilgrims and devotees can pay a visit to Kailash. Before the pilgrimage, you must have your passport ready and then obtain a Tibet Travel Permit via your passport like any other nationality visitor.