Bad weather has put the team’s push for the summit of Cho Oyu on hold for now. Although the team is well prepared, has acclimated well, and no equipment failures yet, the biggest factor of all, the weather, has not cooperate these past few days.
Dean and Mark’s journey to summit Cho Oyu, the world’s 6th highest peak, began in early Sept. It took a week to get to Nepal, gather their supplies, meet the rest of the climbing team from Summit Climb, cross the border into Tibet, and arrive at the first base camp. These days also included some short day hikes to help acclimate faster to the high altitude. Everything went smoothly with getting permits and crossing into China, which can be a major feat in itself with government issues and the primitive dirt road conditions during the rainy season!
Once the team arrived in Tibet, they continued acclimating and organizing their equipment. The “tea houses” in the small towns they stayed in were primitive and crowded compared to our standards, but would make the tents on the mountain seem like luxurious accommodations! They made their way to Chinese Base Camp at 16,000 ft without any major incidents. Every bit of the journey has been preparing them for the big push to the summit. They saw their first glimpse of Cho Oyu next to Mt Everest, which was intertwined with feelings of exhileration and awe at the daunting task ahead of them.
The team spent a few days going from Chinese Base camp to Interim Base Camp (16,800 ft), and finally to Advanced Base Camp (18,500ft) using Yaks to carry most of their equipment. . Each day was a little harder as the air got thinner and everyone adjusted to the lack of oxygen. Here the team had a traditional Puja ceremony, lead by a lama and a couple of monks, which blessed the team and their equipemnt for their journey on the mountian.
After spending a couple of days at Advanced Base Camp, the team started making trips to higher base camps to acclimate and move gear up the mountain. There are a total of 3 high base camps, know as Camp 1, Camp 2 and Camp 3. Snow was a constant companion, which halted some of the progress of the team to higher base camps. The up side of this is that everyone had lots of time to acclimate to the high altitudes while resting at Advanced Base Camp.
Heavy snow has continued to be a problem. Many avalanches have been heard from base camp on the terrain above. On Sept 18 an avalanche at 7700 m (25,200 ft) took out 7 Sherpas who were setting the fixed lines that many of the expeditions would use to climb safely at that elevation. All 7 survived, but the rescue was difficult and 2 of the Sherpas were seriously injured.
At this point Dean’s team is waiting out the weather. The reports predict snow all the way into October, followed by high winds. They will have to determine if they can wait it out and attempt to summit when the weather permits and the fixed lines can be reset. We wish them the best, and most of all a safe return.
Check out www.summitclimb.com for more detailed blogs of the expedition.