I climbed alone through Sin Chai route on April 30 through May 1, 2017.
People showed concerns on a 58 years old man’s plan to do without a guide, tald incedents of an English climber dead and a student lost. But, I could not obey the rule compulsarily requiring a guide even when using an easy and clear route. I could probably follow the rule if I did not experience climbing in Korea. The young English tried a new route climbing a waterfall off the normal one. Mine is not comparable to his.
I have studied and tested the offline GPS and map application, OsmAnd, in the bus to Sapa from My Dinh, Hanoi on April 29, and imagined the route by overlaying the Openstreet Road and MS Earth map layers and by comparing with Google satellite image on my 7 inch screen smartphone. With clearer image on the route and belief on the map by the time I arrived at Sapa, I determined to go alone.
I prepared some food and water, slept at a guest house on the way to Sin Chai village, and went to the village around 7:30 on the next day morning.
Beginning 3 km of the route was steep but clear until reaching to the 1st ridge. After walking some three hours I started to have cramping in my legs though I played tennis two to three times a week. I chewed Tylenol to ease my leg muscles, and considered the option going to the lower camp station on Tram Ton Pass route distanced about 1.5 km to northwest. But when I arrived at the junction, my feet were moving to the peak without knowing how steep was the remaining course. Before the junction, the route was unclear where partially logged, and after the junction I encountered a poisonous snake. I had lunch and rested at the deep valley from around 12:20 for an hour. I had to spend some time to find the route across the stream moving up and down the stream.
The route after the stream was extremely steep and unclear at some places. Advancing 200 m horizontal distance on the map took one hour at the section after the stream. The total horizontal distance of the route on the map was about 8 km, and the distance to the deep valley about 5 km. Without knowing how long I had to take for the remaining 2 km to the top cable car station, I had to control my mind not to be in panic. From around 4 PM, I had to think of bivouac considering moving in the steep and unclear route when dark might cause danger. Around 5 PM, I encountered a flat place on the ridge at 2,400 m elevation. I prepared my air mattress, sleeping bag and bivouac sac, ate some bread and salted pork meat, and drank 250 cc of water remaining 500 cc for the next day. I relaxed my legs lying down in the sleeping bag. Fortunately it was not rainy, and there was no leach, though the wind was quite strong in the midnight.
I was conscious suddenly in the next day morning. I packed and started the remaining route from 6:00. After climbing the quite steep course for an hour, I met a small construction camp when reached to the cable car route where a young man gave me water and a cup of hot tea. I did not meet anybody until that point after I met a Hmong old man near the entrance at Sin Chai. Continuing the route under the cable cars, doing some basic rock climbing near the top cable car station, I felt shameful concious of many observers in the cable cars. The scenery was spectacular just below the junction to Tram Ton pass route. The route joined into the cable car station, and I stepped on the 300 numbers of granite stone steps covering the top amongst so many tourists. The top was ruined connected by a monorail from the cable car station where I stood around 9:30 in the edge of densly packed tourists.
I came down to Tram Ton Pass by 3:30 PM through the stepwise route.
I read the world record oldest Everest climber was 80 years old. My challenge was so small, but still meaningful to me. That might be similar to many of the tourists who came even by the cable cars. I did this partly annoied by a post disgraced Koreans climbing with guides.
As some people wrote me for more information. I'll post it here:
GPS track (not always accurate): http://www.mapmyhike.com/vn/sa-pa-lao-cai/8-92-km-hike-on-18-05-2013-route-210652053
The story: https://maptia.com/surchatm/stories/lost-on-the-roof-of-indochina
Best of luck,
now i understand why USA lost the Vietnam war.
Here is some infos from my experience:
I guess it s a bit late but I d like to help those who are interested to climb Fansipan through it's hardest and wildest route : Sin Chai Route. Not the fake one they will sell you in tour agencies where they just make a turn on the way dow to get to Sin Chai. I climbed Fansipan in one day (7h30 to summit) without any guide or permit using Sin Chai route. First I'd like to warn you: this is no easy route!! it s very wild and in comparison silver waterfall route is a highway!!! It invovles some steep climbing but you can hold yourself on roots (helps to have some experience in rock climbing). Just be sure you re not scared by little free climbing as after some point you cannot go back! Please don't attempt to climb down this route, it s a very stupid thing to do. You can go down through silver highway ^^
First you need to understand it IS very hard to find your way through the jungle. It took me two attempts on two different day to find the route. First day I got lost the whole afternoon trying to report coordinates on the bad map from tourist information! Took on day rest and got back again where I lost myself 4-5 more times on tracks that are leading nowhere. I got a gps track of my succesful day on the android apps mapmyride (look for "fansipan sin chai").
Some hints for the fit experienced and crazy adventurers : From Sin Chai, take the track down the rice terrace through a red metallic bridge (ask local if needed they re pleased to help). From the bridge go diagonal left to the house with big pool, walk along its right side. From there look in front of you, you should be a le to see the track climbing steep uphill. There is two, don't worry they all lead to the same place. First part will take you uphill till you get to the top of a mount then it will go down and up and finally down in the jungle. Just follow what seems to be the main track. Look for rubbish as it s a good sign you re on the right track. Eventually you will cross a little river and then it will go up again. Then all the way down towards a big river - 4m wide with big rocks in it - where I got lost on first attempt. As soon as you hear the stream start to look on your right side as you need to make a turn before the river. Anyway if u can't find the turn just go upstream for 50m (?) untill you get to a sort of campfire with lot of rubbish. Here is where it was so to find the path, there is a lot of track from here but listen : you are looking for a track heading south / southwest. Take your compass you will get to a stone crossing the tiny river parrallel to the big one. Plastic on the floor, right? Nice Hell is starting soon ;) climb up the track then down to these tents you can see. It s very hard to stay on the path here, looks like nobody has passed for years!! Anyway you will end up to another river down the hill. If you get lost go to tent near the river and proceed from here. You need to find the track that follow the river upstream (if u post the track and made your way to the blue tent this probably means going backward). But find the track from the tent, it will take you along the river going up for a while and turning left! You need to cross it, dont go too far but it s easy as the track will turn to the river after some time. It quite easy to find the track on the opposite side of the river. The climbing part is starting now!) You will find yourself in one of the wildest places ;) It s impossible to loose your way from here. Be sure you re ready to take it as you CANNOT turn back on this part, it s too dangerous to climb down.
Important: I'm happy to share the infos and help but - please - keep in mind it's not for inexperienced people. Be sure you are very fit, got some climbing skills, agility helps, mentally strong. Don't put your rubbish on the floor!!! Good luck and give me feedback through the contact page on my website ;-)
Here is the link : www.marcsurchat.ch
We did a motorbike trip from Hanoi to sapa and climbed this jungle mountain + did some awesome bambo-rope swings on it.
This really is a dayhike unless you are interested in the one night camping experience. I think we did it in about 9 hours up and down from the park entrance. I teamed up with three other travellers to keep down the costs, which was then 35 USD per person, including transportation and a sandwich/fruit lunch. It is a half and hour ride to the park entrance, then started hiking when it was still dark. Like mentioned below it is so set up that going on your own isn't that easy. I tried as the day before I hiked down to the "waterfall of love" which is the trail going down to the right of the park building but nobody could help me with a permit. But then was happy paying the 35 bucks coz we had a good time. Lots of people on the way to the summit, also many Vietnamese. Nobody seemed to be going without a guide. Cloudy at the top, some views of the valley below.
had fantastic weather and magnificant views from the summit. $55/per person from Nature Trail gets you ONE guide and everything else for a 2 day climb for 3 people. don't be a naive western tourist and pay more than $100 with other services. you are inflating the prices for future climbers.
the system is setup so that you can't climb the peak by yourself so attempting to go cheaper will include a lot of hangling. however, if you do somehow obtain a permit and arrange your own transportation, gear, sleeping arrangement, the trail is NOT that difficult to follow. it is well defined superhighway. read LS's DistantPeak discription below.
If you are fit a one day hike is the way to go as this is one rainy and cold mountain. I paid Mr Thuy from Nature Guides on the main street through Sapa $58 USD to guide me.
Vietnam Airlines has sponsored some signs for the trail however many of the signs have been destroyed. My guess is its an attempt to keep the local guides in business as the trek becomes more popular. It is a hard trail to follow so I would suggest paying a guide.
A two days undertaking from Tram Ton pass. See the detailed trip report and photos here: http://distantpeak.com/cms/story/218/fansipan
We had pretty nice weather but the hike was still rather wet and muddy. The highlight was camping with the H'mong on the way up. We were lucky enough to be there when they had something to celebrate, so we watched them slaughter a large pig, butcher it, cook it, and feed it to us as part of a magnificent feast!
Started from Tram Ton Pass and hiked out through a minority village on the lower slopes. Climbed in 1 day. The visibility was bad, less than 10 feet during part of the descent. The traffic doesn't amount to much during the off-season so while the trail is generally well marked, it was overgrown and required tricky route-finding surrounding the many downed trees.
Did a two night climb hoping to enjoy more camping, but we ended up going during a national Vietnamese holiday weekend so the camp was completely packed the first night. Was fun hanging out with the locals and even saw a whole pig being roasted for one of the local dignitaries who was also climbing.
Easy climbing most of the way with some steeper sections towards the top. Lots of bamboo growing since a big forest fire cleared the old growth about 10 years ago. It's a nice climb and hopefully the tourism infrastructure will catch up to the beauty that already exists.
What a muddy trail. Hired a guide and porters in Sapa and had a nice two-day trek through the mist and rain. Sapa is a great little town and bagging Fansipan was a fun way to spend a couple of days.
mist and rain accompanied us for much of the first two days of our trek right up to the summit and back to the camping shed on the second day. Hiked up from a pass (Tram Ton pass ???) and down to Sin Chai village with guides and porters hired through Royal Sapa Hotel. With the clouds/mist lifting off the mountains on the 3rd day, the hike down offers spectacular views of Fansipan, and an out-of-the-mundane-world zen like walk through the charming Sin Chai village.