Climbing Cho Oyu -Eight Thousander: Route, Map and Complete Guide

Cho Oyu is considered an easier climb compared to other Eight-Thousander, however, the skill set required for climbing is equally important, Altitude sickness, avalanches, dropping temperature and Death zone have always been major causes of fatality on the mountain.

Cho Oyu North Face

Cho Oyu North Face

Technically easier to climb compared to other peaks, Cho Oyu is accessible from North-West ridge (China), which is more common route. Climbing can be made from South-West ridge (Nepal) too, however, this route is considered risky and isn’t commercially operated.

It has always been a preliminary climb before attempting any other Eight-Thousanders’. The comparative ease of access, lack of objective dangers and generally uncomplicated terrain makes it the most attainable of the world’s highest mountains.

“After a long halt, Chinese officials have restarted issuing permits for Cho Oyu climbing for 2013.”

The fatality isn’t higher either. There has been only 43 deaths on the mountain till 2009.

History of Cho Oyu

Cho Oyu 8,201 m (26,906 ft) Alpine PD+ is the sixth highest mountain in the world. Located in the Khumbu sub-section of the Mahalangur Himalaya, 20 km west of the Everest, it stands on Nepal-China Border. It is translated as “Turquoise Goddess” in Tibetan.

It was first attempted in 1952 by an expedition led by Eric Shipton and included Edmund Hillary & Tom Bourdillon, but ended being just a #reconnaissance.

Cho Oyu was first climbed on October 19, 1954, via the north-west ridge by Herbert Tichy, Joseph Jöchler and Sherpa Pasang Dawa Lama of an Austrian expedition. Cho Oyu was the fifth 8000 meter peak to be climbed, after Annapurna in June 1950, Mount Everest in May 1953, Nanga Parbat in July 1953 and K2 in July 1954.

The route consists mainly of low-angled snow slopes with one short but very steep section to bypass a Serac barrier 6,400 m (20,997 ft). Generally, 3 different camps are setup during the summit; the highest camp at 7,500 m (24,606 ft) is the launch pad for the summit, which can be reached in 5-8 hours under normal conditions.

You should only attempt Cho Oyu if you have the proper experience and logistics for emergency situations. It is isolated and helicopter resource is not available. Most deaths are a result of falls but the weather and altitude also takes it’s toll.

~Alan Arnette

Climbing Seasons

cho oyu climbing seasons

It is commonly climbed in two different seasons, Pre-monsoon (March to June)and Post-monsoon (September to November). The post-monsoon season holds more stable weather. On the other hand, there’s no real deadline in this season, as long as you can deal with the cold, you can attempt the summit late in the year.

Standard Trek Route (Map)

Standard Itinerary

Day 01: Kathmandu to Zhangmu (2,300 m) -123Kms.
Day 02: Zhangmu (2,300 m) to Nyalam (3,750 m)
Day 03: Rest day for acclimatization
Day 04: Nyalam to Tingri (4,390 m) -147 Kms.
Day 05: Arrive at Chinese base camp (4,900 m)
Day 06: Organization at Chinese base camp
Day 07: Trek to Cho Oyu base camp (4,910 m)
Day 08-33: Climbing the north-west face of Cho Oyu (8,201 m)
Day 34: Return trek to road-head
Day 35: Drive to Zhangmu
Day 36: Zhangmu to Kathmandu

Cho Oyu Montage


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3 thoughts on “Climbing Cho Oyu -Eight Thousander: Route, Map and Complete Guide

  1. Pingback: Climbing Cho Oyu -Eight Thousander: Route, Map ...

  2. Pingback: New Book Presents an Absolute Rock Climbing Adventure in Utahs West Desert - Pop Revelations

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