Cho Oyu: Russians To Climb SSW Ridge

The Russian team on the difficult Nepali side of Cho Oyu has decided on its route and have started working on it. They have a long way to go up the SSW ridge and across Lungsangpa Peak.

“It is the only safe option we have found,” Andrey Vasiliev reported.

Vasiliev explained that other routes, although simpler, are longer and too avalanche-prone in the present conditions.

“Perhaps when the weather settles, the excess snow melts and the wind blows, other options will become easier,” Vasiliev added.

The planned route is roughly the same line eyed by Mingma Dorchi Sherpa two years ago. It was previously attempted by Japanese in 1982, Italians and Americans in 1983, the Koreans in 1989, and the Russians in 1990.

There are several options to start the climb (check the blue arrows on the featured image), as long as they reach a high plateau at 6,700m. The main problem for the team is that none of them have reached the upper part of the mountain before. Here,  the greatest difficulties likely lie. In particular, the climbers can’t tell if they will find a passage at 8,000m to the summit area.

Drawing of Cho Oyu's south side with red lines marking existing routes and two black nies that eventually merge, marking possible options to climb the SSW ridge.

Two possible approaches (in black) to the SSW ridge of Cho Oyu. Route map: Animal de Ruta blog


Meanwhile, on the normal route

Meanwhile, on the normal route up Cho Oyu from the Tibetan side, commercial teams are in a frantic race to pursue the increasingly meaningless records. The Seven Summit Treks group summited early this morning. They are now rushing to Shishapangma, planning to go up right away, “conditions permitting,” the team said. Competition is fierce to become first this or first that.

One person who can now relax is Gelje Sherpa. With his summit of Cho Oyu, he completed his own 14×8,000m list. In the winter of 2021-22, when the normal route in Tibet was closed because of the pandemic, he attempted unsuccessfully to climb from the south face, as the Russian are now doing.

The moment the Chinese side opened, Gelje went for the simplest route. He is also guiding Adriana Brownlee, who still needs to summit Shishapangma  to become the first British woman and the youngest woman ever to do all 14 8,000’ers.

Gelje is currently the youngest climber ever to summit the 14 peaks. He may only hold the record for a couple of days, until Brownlee and Sheroze Kashif of Pakistan, who are much younger, finish their quest.

Climbers on a snow slope with plenty of footprints.

Cho Oyu climbers progress on snow slopes. Photo: Adriana Brownlee/Instagram


Grace Tseng of Taiwan is also on the team.  According to The Himalayan Database, she has completed 13 of the highest peaks. She finishes her list with Shishapangma.

All the members of the team used supplementary oxygen, except for Pasang Nurbu Sherpa and Mingtemba Sherpa, who are climbing without it this fall. Previously, they worked fixing ropes on the Seven Summit Treks teams supporting Kristin Harila.

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.