Mt. Cho Oyu which stands astride Nepal – Tibet border and to the west of Mt. Everest, has offered an excellent choice for all mountaineers wishing to climb their first 8,000 and over higher. It is technically straightforward climb accessibility easy with minimal danger. So base camp can be planned fairly, experiencing it all a little bit more comfortable and tolerable.
Cho Oyu Expedition begins in Kathmandu from where our visas for Tibet have to be processed. Then, we drive along with the Friendship – Highway to Zhangmu at the Nepal-Tibet frontier. And our Chinese Liaison Officers and transport will be meeting us here. Then after we travel by bus or jeep with all our equipment going by truck. Normally we would expect to spend two days in Nyalam for acclimatization before driving over the Laguna La (Pass) to the old village of Tingri. The Pass rises high above the Tibetan plains and Base Camp is reached in a couple of hours from Tingri.
Onward leaving Tingri, our trucks pull off the metal road and bump up a grassy plain leading up to the Nangpa La (Pass). Here we have a couple of options for the Base Camp. But that will probably take it on the flat moraine along the foot of the Gyabrag glaciers. A good path leads on for about two days to the Advanced Base Camp. We will be staying here at the Base Camp throughout the expedition and plan not to descend until the expedition is finished. We will have a large cook and mess tents and members will share 2 to 3 man dome tents. And a Land Cruiser jeep will be permanently on standby at the Base Camp for emergency evacuation.
There is the Advance Base Camp (ABC) at approximately 5,700 meters that provides stunning views of the surrounding snowy mountain peaks, the jewels of the Himalaya. And overlooking the Nangpa La (Pass), we see a major century-old trading route between Nepal and Tibet.
After the Advance Base Camp, it is approximately three miles to the start of the mountain proper. Here a vague path leads through the easy moraine-covered glaciers. Camp I will be fixed at an elevation of 6,400 meters. If there is no snow, there is a steep path going up an interminable scree slope which progresses the higher you climb. The camp will be located on a broad snowfield at the foot of the ridge leading up to a Serac barrier. This is the only real technical section of the route.
The ridge is blocked by a line of ice cliffs at about 6,900 meters. Close inspection reveals many fixed ropes. We will fix a new rope in co-operation with any other trips that may be on the mountain with us. Normally we have one rope for ascent and another for a descent on this pitch, which is about 40 meters high. This is the hardest part of the mountain but is not a difficult jammer. Above the Serac, we climb out onto a plateau cut by huge crevasses. Wending our way between them we place Camp II at about 7,100 meters elevation.
After leaving Camp II we climb more easily through broad snow slopes to Camp III. Camp III is at an elevation of 7,500 meters. This will be the highest camp. So, we make the attempts for the SUMMIT from here. On the Summit day of Cho Oyu, it involves an early start. Depending on weather/snow conditions we may or may not encounter some easy scrambling as we make our way up and across the low angled West Face.