Cho Oyu: Ready For The Final Assault

There will be no more rotations on Cho Oyu. Next time Gelje Sherpa‘s team starts up the South Face, they will head for the summit. Meanwhile, Gelje is in Base Camp, preparing for the final assault.

“We have fixed lines up to 7,409m,” he said. “Hence, we have 779m to go to the summit.”

Gelje had hoped to set up their third and last camp at 7,800m, but the expedition meteorologist in Kathmandu warned of worsening weather. The team on the mountain confirmed the change, so Gelye called for a retreat.

Easier than expected?

It is remarkable how fast the team has progressed on Cho Oyu’s difficult and dangerous South Face. Gelje has not revealed the route they are following, although at the beginning of the expedition he mentioned that they would first reach Nangpa La. This col separates Nepal from Tibet and lies close to Camp 1 on Cho Oyu’s normal route. He specified that they would not cross the border into China at any point.

There are also no details about where the climbers started using supplementary oxygen.

“So far, we are sticking to plans and we believe we will make it,” said Gelje.

The second team on the mountain, organized by Pioneer Adventure on a slightly different route, has set up Camp 1. They plan to fix the route to Camp 2 today, according to a post shared this afternoon, Nepal time. It is unclear whether they reached their goal or whether the worsening weather that Gelje Sherpa reported turned them back.

Mingma Dorchi Sherpa, right, before flying to Cho Oyu Base Camp yesterday. Photo: Pioneer Adventure

 

While his team works on the route, Pioneer Adventure’s expedition leader, Dorchi Sherpa, flew to Base Camp yesterday. So far, each team is working on its route independently. Although a winter ascent is not the primary goal — mainly, they want to establish a commercial route up Cho Oyu from the Nepal side — a winter success would be a bonus. For this, they must move fast, in order to summit before the end of meteorological winter, two weeks from now.

Meanwhile, K2 summit push on pause

Base Camp at the foot of K2. Photo: Summit Karakoram

 

On K2, winds in Camp 2 forced the lone team to delay their planned summit push. Instead, everyone retreated to Base Camp. At least, Camp 3 is all set up. Outfitter Summit Karakoram confirms that their next push will aim for the summit.

Senior journalist, published author and communication consultant. Specialized on high-altitude mountaineering, with an interest for everything around the mountains: from economics to geopolitics. After five years exploring distant professional ranges, I returned to ExWeb BC in 2018. Feeling right at home since then!


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damiengildea
Editor
2 months ago

Why so little real information from them on the ChoOyu routes?

The mountain has established geographical features and recorded routes. If they have time to send a few sentences in dispatches, why can’t they include a few words on the route?

don't be evil
don't be evil
2 months ago
Reply to  damiengildea

You can find GPS tracks on Gelje’s instagram.

Last edited 2 months ago by don't be evil
Marie
Marie
2 months ago

Don’t be evil. — We should be grateful that Angela Benavides keeps us updated on an almost daily basis.

Jerry Kobalenko
Admin
2 months ago

We are constantly trying to get detailed route information from sources, including from the supporting outfitters in KTM, from Gelje, etc. The tracks are not public. No information has been shared, although Gelje assured Angela that he will offer something shortly. ExplorersWeb stands behind her thorough and excellent reporting.

damiengildea
Editor
2 months ago

Yes, Gelje’s recent photo shows him either up on the eastern ridge or high on the right side of the south face. His reported height of 7400m seems too low to be up on the east ridge itself though. But my original point remains – why the secrecy? Why is detective work needed? Why not just say where they are? They clearly have the means and the will to send words to their followers and media. Those crumbling ice blocks in their photos down low on the route might be stable in winter, but slow clients under them in Sept?… Read more »

F v
F v
2 months ago
Reply to  damiengildea

There’s a second team climbing Cho Oyu, maybe they don’t want to give them to much information about their line and progress.

Last edited 2 months ago by F v
don't be evil
don't be evil
2 months ago
Reply to  damiengildea

First of all they don’t owe any of us a real time update. Some climbers prefer to do it and some don’t. If you have been around Nepalese climbers, you would know that most of them either don’t care or are not aware that there are people like you who are interested in the routes, climbing styles, and are seeking real time update about their progress. Due to the social media, climbers from Nepal are becoming aware of interest in these kind of stuff and are starting to provide more information in the last few years. Also, Jerry mentioned earlier… Read more »

damiengildea
Editor
2 months ago
Reply to  don't be evil

I neither implied, nor anything else, that he might “…claim a fake summit”. You’ve just made that up.

The equipment/Machermo issue is irrelevant. He posted plenty of words to his Insta from high on the route.

These guys want the publicity and fame and money, from us and the climbing community, which means it’s fair to scrutinise their PR.

Pawel
Pawel
2 months ago
Reply to  damiengildea

From the trackers info that he provided looks like they are following Russian route from 1991… good luck on the super technical ridge: “east ridge, which has a 70-meter-deep gap with 80° rock on its sides at a very high altitude. They overcame this great obstacle partly by making an extremely difficult traverse on a rock ledge on the Tibetan side.”

F v
F v
2 months ago

Unfortunately wind speed at cho oyu summit looks not good the whole week. + 100km/h, the jet stream is persistent. K2 weather forecast looks better after this week, several days with low wind speed at the summit ( for the first time since mid -dec!) Totally different than last year.

Peter Flynn
Peter Flynn
2 months ago
Reply to  F v

Will be interesting to see if they can carry Grace Ko-Erh to the top in that weather window.

don't be evil
don't be evil
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter Flynn

I want her succeed just to watch some of the holier than thou alpinists squirm

Peter
Peter
2 months ago

Please stop calling attempts to climb mountains “assaults” it’s frankly nauseating.