Conquering the Fansipan - The Roof of Indochina

The Fansipan, often dubbed the Roof of Indochina since it at 3,143m is the highest mountain in Indochina, is becoming a favorite destination among professional mountain climbers.

Challenges, of course, are numerous, with some life-threatening, especially so for amateur mountaineers. But the rewards, as it is told, are magnificent. So we set out to look for wonders and to test our physical and mental strength as well.

The mount, part of the Hoang Lien Son Range, is located in the northern province of Lao Cai, about nine kilometers from Sapa Town.

Cannot back down!


We start off from Tram Ton Pass, or Heaven Gate, at the gate of Hoang Lien National Park at an altitude of 1,800 meters. Covering this route, stretching a total 16 kilometers and usually used by amateur climbers, would take two days and one night.

Before starting, every member in my team feels eager to conquer the “Roof of Indochina” but we start off hyperventilating due to fatigue, palpitations and tired leg as soon as we just pass the first stone stairs, cross a small stream and a few slopes.

We continue to pass narrow and difficult forest trails that are clogged with roots. We have to use gloves to cling to trees and swing up the steep slopes that can break our will and energy.

The trip is really the greatest challenge to one’s health and courage. It is more and more dangerous with high and sharp cliff on one side and deep abyss on the other. Our hands are swollen and bodies fell like wearing heavy stones.

We reach the first stop at an altitude of 2,200 meters for a lunch break after two-hour climbing. Discouragement begins to surface when we know the summit is still 1,000 meters from here. Legs want to be buckled and ankles seem to be broken under the body weight.

However, the native porter tells us that the road to the peak will only be 1,000 meters if we continue to go up while the back way is three times longer. So what is the better choice? We obviously have to continue the arduous trip given no other choice after having a “hearty” lunch with meat, eggs, vegetables and tea.

Never give up!


Our team reaches the next stop at a height of 2,800 meters in the late afternoon. By night, the outdoor temperature is below ten degrees Celsius, and we feel the cold creeping over us.

Fog is too dense to see anyone in front. Despite using sleeping bag, we still have to curl ourselves to keep the body warm as the cold wind blows into tents like needles biting into the skin.

We have to get up early the next morning as the remaining track is extremely difficult. Cold weather and thin air make us lose energy and oxygen quickly while the body cannot recover after a day of uninterrupted climbing.

We also have to face more difficult obstacles than before, including wild insects and snakes, harsh weather condition, slipping stones as well as abrupt mountain slopes. The hikers must have good health condition and the readiness for any difficulties.



And our happiness burst when we hear other groups screaming. The summit appears in front of our eyes with a steel block carved with the words “Fansipan – 3.143m”.

From the high position, we can see incredibly beautiful and stunning scenery. It is an immense green of forest and fields downside as well as fabulous scene of the blue sky and white cloud around the mountain and around us. Standing on the peak of the Fansipan is an amazing and victorious feeling and we understand that miserable trekking days are worthwhile.

Climbing the Fansipan is not only a journey to conquer the highest peak in Vietnam but also a chance for us to overcome ourselves. Each step requires an effort to conquer physical and mental fatigue, in which the mental weakness is the most difficult task.

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