Climbers Reach Cho Oyu Base Camp

Hoping to make a rare ascent of Cho Oyu from the Nepal side, Gelje Sherpa and his two clients, Adriana Brownlee and Kristin Harila, reached Base Camp today.

Brownlee and Harila are the only foreigners. Besides the leader, Gelje, there are five other Sherpa climbers: Dawa Sherpa, Tenging Gyaljen Sherpa, Migmar Dhondup Sherpa, Ngima Tashi Sherpa, and Nima Rita Sherpa. Cook Nga Temba rounds out the team.

Traditionally, climbers approach Cho Oyu from Tibet, but China has closed its mountains to foreigners since COVID. This has forced climbers who want to add Cho Oyu to their resumés to attempt it from the much more technical south side in Nepal. For the last two autumns, these attempts have been unsuccessful.

There remain no details about the expedition’s strategy. Typically, the Sherpa team fixes the ropes, pitches the camps, and supports the two paying climbers. Both Adriana Brownlee and Kristin Harila have live tracking devices (see the links on their names), so we will be able to better follow their progress.

track on a map.

Adriana Brownlee’s tracker located her at 5,200m today, on Cho Oyu’s south side.

 

Likely, the team will move up from Base Camp as soon as conditions allow. Technically, this will not be a calendar winter expedition, since they are setting foot on the mountain before December 21. The weather will be somewhat milder in mid-December than in the heart of winter, giving better summit chances. Yet the challenge of getting up the south side of Cho Oyu remains remarkable.

Tibet route open next year?

Those ready to wait an extra eight or nine months to climb Cho Oyu may have a simpler option. There seems to be a good chance that China will reopen its normal, Tibetan route to foreigners by fall 2023. As with Shishapangpa, spring seems a little too early to hope for, but post-monsoon opportunities seem likely. Furtenbach Adventures has announced expeditions for the end of next summer. These would be the first Western climbs in Tibet for three years.

IG story announcing Cho Oyu expedition from August 21, 2023

Furtenbach Adventures has announced expeditions to Cho Oyu next summer. Photo: Instagram Stories

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides is a college-graduated journalist specializing in high-altitude mountaineer 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.