Cho Oyu Summit Push Aborted — Pioneer Calls Off Expedition

It feels like winter, said Gelje Sherpa after retreating from Cho Oyu’s Camp 3 in what he described as “insane” 70kph winds. Conditions, he said,  were not safe for the rope-fixing team, and especially not for the clients. Everybody has returned to Base Camp, in rather low spirits.

“We are waiting things out, but it’s looking like a very narrow weather window and low chances,” said Gelje.

It must be particularly frustrating for him: Cho Oyu is the last peak on his 14×8,000m list before he becomes the youngest to do them all. Mingma Gyabu (David), the current record holder, was 30 years and 5 months old when he completed all 14. Gelje turns 30 on November 12.

Gelje has a little time left to pass his friend and colleague. But with several much younger clients, such as 21-year-old Adriana Brownlee and 20-year-old Sheroze Kashif quickly filling in their own lists, it is not likely that a 30-year-old, whether Mingma David or Gelje, will own the record for very long.

Below, Gelje’s video from Camp 3, at 7,200m.

Another attempt?

“The wind and weather and cold and frozeness [sic] of this expedition is just a little too much,” said Adriana Brownlee, who stayed in Base Camp. Brownlee plans to wait a little more in the hope of better weather.

It is not clear if this will be an option. Pioneer Adventure director Ngaa Tenji Sherpa has just called off his company’s entire expedition.

Posted on the evening of October 20, Nepal time, by Nga Tenji Sherpa of Pioneer Adventure.


If Pioneer is out, it is unclear what will happen with some of the climbers currently in Base Camp. Kristine Harila, Adriana Brownlee, and some others may be unaffected because they are with Seven Summit Treks.

Led by Gelje Sherpa, SST has also fielded a powerful support team. They may still try to fix from Camp 3 and summit if conditions improve. However, Grace Tseng of Taiwan, Nima Gyalzen Sherpa, Csaba Varga of Hungary, and others are climbing with Pioneer.

If Tseng has no chance to summit, she will return to Kathmandu. Here, she will hopefully report to The Himalayan Database about her recent Manaslu climb. Increasingly, the climbing community has questioned her speed record claim on Manaslu. This week, doubts reached a pitch where her crowdfunding agency has blocked further donations to her 14×8,000m project.

Cho Oyu’s south side Base Camp. Photo: Gelje Sherpa

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.