Ascent of Fan Si Pan on 2020-05-15

Climber: Matthew Chabe

Date:Friday, May 15, 2020
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Taxicab
Peak:Fan Si Pan
    Elevation:10308 ft / 3141 m

Ascent Trip Report

The Roof of Indochina! Highest peak in Viet Nam, Laos, and Cambodia. So many trip reports indicated that local guides are required to hike Fansipan. There is a ranger station at the trailhead that has been reported to extort money if you attempt this without a guide. This requirement is in place because the peak is in a bureaucratic national park, and it was precipitated by a solo hiker that died here a few years back: we got a guide. Not many people are trekking Fan Si Pan today now that a cable car to the top has been established. Comparatively, it's more of a fringe thing nowadays. Thus, there aren't many guide services offering treks to the peak, but they are advertised in places. We found one at a local homestay. A H'mong girl named Sau took us up to the peak.

The trail was easily discernible, and anyone with moderate hiking experience would have no trouble finding their way. It's flat at first, and then it starts heading UP. There are a few steel ladders and wooden pegs here and there. It must be said: this is not an easy day hike. It's long, and the steeps can be brutal.

Many people do the hike in two (or even three) days, overnighting at a rustic base camp complex about halfway up the trail. We did it in one. We took the normal tourist trail (the Tram Ton Trail). A taxi picked us up at our hotel at 7 am. We drove 15km north on a winding mountain road, sometimes unimproved, to the ranger station near the Love Waterfall. We hiked through the jungle, did a little stream crossing, and then started UP. The scenery is beautiful, but the trail is relentless. We took a short lunch of banh mi and sushi at the base camp.

Along the trail, you pass some absolutely breathtaking scenery. At one point you ascend a small pass, and your left-hand side is dominated by a massive stone wall— ~30 stories tall. Around the corner, an expansive view emerges. Amazing.

There is a large tourist complex and cable car station that dominates the summit. It sports all manner of gaudy towers, statues, gift shops, and attractions. The summit marker itself is ringed by all this junk and a fence with a "Do Not Enter" sign.

There are some summit reports on this site that claim Fan Si Pan, even though they took the cable car to the top. I'm all for gently massaging the rules if necessary, but if you took a cable car to the summit, and took it back down, can you really say you bagged that peak?
Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Stream Ford, Scramble
    Gear Used:
    Weather:Cool, Windy, Partly Cloudy
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Matthew Chabe
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Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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