Cho Oyu Summited From Nepal!

What a season finale: Gelje Sherpa has fulfilled his life-long dream and led an eight-member team, including Alasdair McKenzie of France, to the summit of Cho Oyu. They succeeded from the highly difficult Nepal side via a new route.

The team summited via the SSW Ridge at 8:35 pm Nepal time. Expedition manager Mingma Sherpa of Seven Summit Treks reported from Base Camp, “[They] started at approximately 2 am from Camp 4 and made it to the top after a continuous effort of over 17 hours.”

In addition to Gelje Sherpa and McKenzie, Chhangba Sherpa, Tenging Gyaljen Sherpa, Lakpa Temba Sherpa, Lakpa Tenji Sherpa, and Ngima Ongda Sherpa also summited.

First success in 15 years

Once the climbers return safely to Base Camp, we should learn more about the route, the style, and the conditions on the final push. This is the first successful ascent of the South Face of Cho Oyu since Denis Urubko and Boris Dedeshko’s new alpine-style route in 2009.

It is also the first complete ascent of the SSW Ridge. Recent teams have chipped away at it unsuccessfully, including a Nepalese team led by Mingma Dorchi Sherpa, Gelje Sherpa himself in fall and winter, and a Russian team last fall.

Mingma Sherpa noted that the expedition started in the first week of May from Lukla, but preparations had started already in March.

“This expedition faced numerous challenges along the way,” he said. “By May 30, McKenzie and the sherpa team, including Gelje Sherpa, had fixed ropes up to 7,625m but were forced to return to Base Camp due to a shortage of ropes. On June 4, with all preparations in place, the team set off on their final summit push.”

In addition to Cho Oyu, Gelje Sherpa had time to lead a team on Everest with his own company, AGA Adventures (run jointly with Adriana Brownlee), three weeks ago:

Seven Summit Treks reported the news just two hours after we posted a story wondering how things were going on Cho Oyu and profiling the two contenders vying to become the youngest 14×8,000m summiter.

One strong sherpa

In the story, we quoted Naoko Watanabe as saying the Cho Oyu expedition had gone through three failed summit pushes and weeks of struggle, but work went on thanks to “one strong sherpa who wants to be the first in the world to summit [Cho Oyu from the South Side].”

Now we know the Nepalese dreamer was no other than Gelje Sherpa and that his dream has come true.

Meanwhile, McKenzie has bagged his 13th 8,000’er via a difficult new route at 18 years old. Now he only needs to climb Shisha Pangma to complete the 14×8,000ers challenge and claim the “youngest” record. However, he is closely competing with Nima Rinji Sherpa, also 18. Nima Rinji is currently pushing for his own 13th on Kangchenjunga.

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides graduated university in journalism and specializes in high-altitude mountaineering and expedition news. She has been writing about climbing and mountaineering, adventure and outdoor sports for 20+ years.

Prior to that, Angela Benavides spent time at/worked at a number of local and international media. She is also experienced in outdoor-sport consultancy for sponsoring corporations, press manager and communication executive, and a published author.