Gale Winds Continue, Cho Oyu Climbers Give Up For Now

The bad weather had the last word on Cho Oyu: The joint team of Nepalis had no time for a last summit attempt. Everyone is now on his way home but wants to try again as soon as possible.

“See how close the summit is,” Pioneer Adventure co-founder Ngaa Tenji told ExplorersWeb, indicating the lead picture in this story.

Several factors conspired against the climbers. First, with Nepal’s spring climbing season around the corner, they all have upcoming guiding commitments that will require all their energy.

Second, the winter climbing season officially ended on February 28. Any further attempts on Cho Oyu would require a new spring permit.

Gelje Sherpa is determined to summit Cho Oyu and complete his 14x8000m record in 2022. Photo: Gelje Sherpa

 

Third, of course, was the technical difficulty of the route, especially in those harsh conditions. Gelje Sherpa, who is currently in Namche Bazaar, shared some thoughts with Seven Summit Treks about the final stretch along the East Ridge.

“It looked really hard,” Gelje reportedly told them, “like a sharp hand of rock with several ups and downs like fingers, and the wind was getting stronger and stronger. If I had had a whole good day, I have no doubt I would have made it.”

Gelje’s partner Lakpa Dendi posted a video on Instagram that showed what Gelje meant about the wind.

 

Their second attempt on the south side of Cho Oyu could happen as early as this autumn, according to Seven Summit Treks. They plan to launch an expedition in late October, again under Gelje Sherpa, once the monsoon settles down.

The sharp East Ridge leads (eventually, after great difficulty) to the summit of Cho Oyu. Photo: Gelje Sherpa

 

Gelje Sherpa needs to summit Broad Peak (which he plans to climb in summer) and Cho Oyu to complete his 14×8,000m quest. If he can also climb Cho Oyu in 2022 (or by January 2023), he will become the youngest-ever 14×8,000m summiter. Currently, his regular teammate, Mingma David Sherpa of Elite Exped, holds that distinction.

Back from Base Camp: Pioneer’s team leader Dorchi Sherpa, centre, with Mingma Sherpa, left, and Pasang Tenji Sherpa. Photo: Pioneer Adventure

 

The Pioneer team is also certain that they will return to Cho Oyu, although they have not yet fixed a date. However, they are convinced that their line can later serve as a commercial route up Cho Oyu from Nepal. That’s not the case with Gelje’s route. At least, not for large groups or inexperienced clients, according to Thaneswar Guragai, manager of Seven Summit Treks.

“Nothing leads us to believe that China is willing to open the mountain from Tibet in the [near future],” Guragai told ExplorersWeb. “So some very experienced climber with a special interest in climbing Cho Oyu for, let’s say, a 14×8,000’er project might eventually repeat this Nepali route [with us].”

Guragai regards the attempt on Cho Oyu as a collective project of the whole Nepali climbing community. He contrasts it with the successful joint expedition to winter K2 last year.

“On K2, we [Nepalis] knew the route perfectly well. We knew how much rope we needed and where to fix it. On Cho Oyu, the climbers were progressing on unknown terrain. This year’s experience will make all the difference when we return.”

Angela Benavides is a journalist specialised on high-altitude mountaineer and expedition news working with ExplorersWeb.com.

Angela Benavides 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 national and international media. She is also experienced in outdoor-sport consultancy for sponsoring corporates, press manager and communication executive, radio reporter and anchorwoman, etc. Experience in Education: Researcher at Spain’s National University for Distance Learning on the European Commission-funded ECO Learning Project; experience in teaching ELE (Spanish as a Second Language) and transcultural training for expats living in Spain.

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Shivering Yeti
Shivering Yeti
4 months ago

“See how close the summit is,”
Sorry, son, this is some very hard and exposed climbing. Absolutely no commercial route.

MV Alvarez
3 months ago

Commercial is not synonymous with easy or crowded, it also means “with assistance”. A route usually out of reach of experienced mountaineers who don’t consider climbing them alone without a strong team to support them, but who like challenges and truly love the mountains. On the other hand (waiting to see what the end is really like), I think it’s an interesting route, with good places to set up high-altitude camps. In spring and autumn, with less extreme weather, there are sure to be interested mountaineers.