Mt. Cho Oyu which stands astride the Nepal – Tibet border and to the west of Mt. Everest, has offered an excellent choice for all mountaineers alike wishing to climb their first 8,000 and over metre peak. It is technically straightforward climb with a minimal danger and accessibility easy, as such the logistic planning is much easier. Base camp can be planned fairly, making the living little bit more comfortable and tolerable.
Expedition begins in Kathmandu from where our visas for Tibet has to be processed. We then drive along the Friendship – Highway to Zhangmu at the Nepal-Tibet frontier. Our Chinese Liaison Officers and transport will be meeting us here. We travel by bus or jeep with all our equipment going by truck. Normally we would expect to spend two days in Nyalam for acclimatisation before driving over the Langnna La (Pass) to 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). We have couple of options for the Base Camp but, 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 large cook and mess tents and members will share 2 to a 3 man dome tent. A Land Cruiser jeep will be permanently on stand-by at the Base Camp for emergency evacuation. At approximately 5,700 metres there is the Advance Base Camp (ABC) that provides with 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. A vague path leads through the easy moraine covered glaciers. At an elevation of 6,400 metres, Camp I will be fixed. If there is no snow, there is a steep path going up an interminable scree slope which improves the higher you climb. The camp will be located on a broad snow field at the foot of the ridge leading up to a serac barrier which is the only real technical section on the route.
At about 6,900 metres the ridge is blocked by a line of ice cliffs. 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 descent on this pitch, which is about 40 metres high. This is the hardest part of the mountain but is not a difficult jumar. 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 metres elevation.
Leaving Camp II we climb more easily through broad snow slopes to Camp III, at an elevation of 7,500 metres. This will be the highest camp. We make the attempts for the SUMMIT from here. On the Summit day it involves with 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.
We find summit plateau is very large and unfortunately the highest point is a long way back. However, if the weather favours the surrounding close-up views are breathtakingly magnificent, including … Mt. Everest 8,848 metre, Lhotse 8,516m, Nuptse 7,855m, Chamlang 7,319 m, Ama Dablam 6,812 m and other peaks of the Khumbu region are spread out before us. It could also be possible to see the Mt. Melungtse and Mt. Gauri Shanker (7,134 m) massifs. It is normally possible to descend from the summit all the way to Advance Base Camp on the same day, but it depends on snow conditions and the members’ good health fitness.
Flying into Kathmandu along the northern border of Nepal on a clear day is in itself and unforgettable experience, with the entire Nepalese Himalaya sprawling out below you. Take a deep breath through and be ready to confront the confusion of Kathmandu's Tribhuvan International Airport. After passing through immigration you will proceed downstairs and collect your baggage, load up your trolley and go through customs inspection. After customs, you will pass out of the restricted area and into the passenger pick-up area outside the building. This can be quite confusing with a large number of people getting in the way. However, you will see a Explore Himalaya signboard and a representative will be waiting to welcome you to Nepal. After transferring to your hotel, you will be given a chance to catch your breath and then be given a briefing on all relevant aspects of your expedition holiday. This includes all 'Do's and Don'ts' while in Kathmandu and on the expedition. We will complete the application for your expedition permit and your passport and air ticket will be collected to obtain the permit and to reconfirm your onward return travel. These important documents are held in our safe and returned to you on your completion of the expedition. .
A free day in Kathmandu. Relaxation then as usual there will be extensive preparations, packing bags / equipment at hotel, ready for the start the following day. You can leave your unnecessary belongings which you may not require / need during the expedition, packed and locked in bags at the hotel. .
Early in the morning we take a bus drive along the Friendship - Highway to Zhangmu at the Nepal-Tibet frontier. The journey normally may take about 5 to 6 hours depending on the condition of the road, and sometime likely the landslides that could double this journey time. We will stay on the Nepalese side of the border, or perhaps in Zhagmu, just up the hill on the Tibetan side. .
Our jeeps and trucks meander their way up the precipitous mountain road - " the road to hell " as the Chinese literally express and we have the opportunity now to find it out for our-self, why. The journey to Nyalam is a short day and gives us some opportunity to acclimatise..
At Nyalam for acclimatisation..
A spectacular day as we climb up to 5,000 metres elevation. If the weather is clear the views from this road are absolutely superb. Arriving in Tingri we get our first views of the lonely mountains across the grassy plains. .
This takes approximately about 2 hours at most. Our campsite is known locally as Chinese Base Camp and after establishing our camp we can rest and enjoy the views. The camp is pleasantly situated on grassy patch alongside the river. .
We will spend 2 days at Base Camp for acclimatisation and to prepare our equipment for the yak carry to Advance Base Camp. All our equipment is transported in blue plastic drums or kit bags and it is usual to have in the region of 60 yaks to transport all our supplies and equipment..
It takes 2 days to trek up to the Advance Base Camp near the foot of the Nangpa La Pass. All our expedition equipment will be carried by yaks and we will trek alongside with our day packs. One overnight camp is needed en-route to the Advance Base Camp..
The expedition leader will control the day to day running of the expedition. Normally we establish Camp I at an elevation of 6,400 metres and Camp II at 7,100 metres elevation, before returning to the Advance Base Camp to rest. Our Sherpa team will then establish Camp III at 7,500 metres elevation with the team members and, sleeping only one night at this top camp before going to the summit. .
By this day all the expedition members and Sherpas will have to back at the Lower Chinese Base Camp where our truck and bus transport will be waiting for us. Everything will be packed into the blue plastic expedition drums for the return journey to Kathmandu. If the road is in good condition it is sometimes possible to go to Kathmandu in one day from the Base Camp. More likely though, we will want to enjoy the journey back across the Tibetan plains to the lush valley of Nepal. .
Loading all our equipment onto a Chinese truck we drive to the border which we cross and descend to Kodari where we obtain our Nepalese visas. A few miles down the road is the village of Tatopani where we stay for the night. There are quite a number of local village tea houses which can provide accommodations..
This is a spectacular and enjoyable journey down the Sun Kosi river valley. Some members may wish to enjoy the scenery from the roof of the bus. We should arrive into Kathmandu in the early afternoon, assuming there are no landslides to slow the journey .
Time for a good relaxation / outing / souvenir shopping and celebrate a long and exciting expedition adventure. .
Transfer to Tribhuvan International Airport - Fly to home..
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