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Cho Oyu meaning ‘The Turquoise Goddess’ is the sixth highest mountain in the world. The name also has other translations such as ‘Mighty Head’, ‘God’s Head’ and ‘Bald God’. The peak stands 8,188 meters above the sea level and is the westernmost major peak of the Khumbu region of the Mahalangur Himalaya about 20 km west of the Mount Everest.
Many climbers claim the Mount Cho Oyu as the easiest among all Eight-thousanders to climb. The mountain has become a destination for many tourists worldwide for being an easier one to climb and the one with the least fatality.
The Mount Cho Oyu lies on the Nepal-Tibet border. The mountain is located in the Khumbu region of Eastern Nepal and is only 20 kilo meters west of the tallest mountain in the world: the Mount Everest. Mount Cho Oyu has an easy access by a 4-wheelers drive through Tingri. The mountain being an easily accessible is the first eight-thousanders to climb for many climbers. The top of the mountain offers with the amazing views of the other mountains of the Khumbu region such as Mount Everest, Nuptse, Ama Dablam, Lhotse, Chamlang, Hungchhi, and Pumori.
The summit of the Mount Cho Oyu is accessible from both the Nepalese side on the south and north-east face and the Northwest ridge in the Tibet. The climb through the Northwest ridge is relatively easier and is also the route used for the first summit to the mountain.
The height of the Mount Cho Oyu has always been a matter of variation. After the first ascent to the mountain, the recorded height of the mountain was 8,150 meters. This measurement placed the mountain in the seventh position in the list of highest eight-thousanders in the world. Later in 1984, the height of the mountain was recorded as 8,201 meters which upgraded its position to the sixth. The latest measurement made by the Government of Nepal Survey Department and the Finnish Meteorological Institute in 1996 addressed the mountain to be 8,188 meters high.
The first attempt to climb the Cho Oyu was made in 1952 by a joint expedition of the Joint Himalayan Committee as a preparation expedition to conquer the Mount Everest in the following year. Eric Shipton led the expedition and included Edmund Hillary and Tom Bourdillon. However, the expedition was not successful due to the technical difficulties and the risk of avalanche at an ice cliff above 6,650 meters.
Herbert Tichy, Joseph Jochler and Sherpa Pasang Dawa Lama first climbed the mountain on 19th October, 1965, via the north-west ridge. The Mount Cho Oyu became the fifth eight-thousander peak to be climbed and also the highest climbed eight-thousanders without supplementary oxygen. Being most popular for its height, the Mount Cho Oyu has four times more ascends than Gasherbrum II: the third most popular eight thousanders.
There are still some amazing facts that will amaze everyone around the world. Let’s know some of the interesting facts of the Mountain:
If there is something easy above 8,000 meters above sea level, then Mount Cho Oyu will most probably occur at the top the list. The peak does not have a real technical difficulty and objective danger during the climb. The Cho Oyu is marketed as a ‘trekking peak’ and can be completed almost in 6 weeks after trekkers enter Nepal. The Base Camp is accessible by jeep and thus is easy to reach to/from the capital of Nepal, Kathmandu. The trek is also popular because it is achievable without any real technical sections.
In spite of highest success rate, the mountain has claimed the life of several climbers who made an attempt to conquer it. The first accident occurred in 28th April 1958 when Narendra Dhar Jayal lost his life due to altitude sickness. Jayal died due to the pulmonary edema due to overexertion during his expedition to Camp I. The accident happened because he started late but hurried to catch up with the main party.
An international expedition to Cho Oyu in 1959, lead by a reputed female climber from France went in vein. The expedition gained the attraction form the world for being a group of women. But, things are not always smooth in the Himalayas. Because of the sudden bizarre four women along with the leader were missed and their body were never found.
Well, this is not the end of the list. Several other climbers lost their life during the process of ascend. Till now there occurred more than 50 life casualties in the mountain. The majority of the deaths occurred due to fall, avalanches and altitude sickness.
The death of these climbers is a lesson to the climbers for the need of acclimatization and discipline during the course of the climb.
Cho Oyu has three main ridges for the climb: the Northwest, the Northeast, and the Southwest face. The Northwest ridge, popularly known as Tichy Route is the most common ridge that climbers follow during the climb. The Northwest ridge is less than 50 degree and does not require the technical skill. The route begins from Gyabrag Glacier lying at the base of 6395 meters peak.
The route ascends to the west side of the slope leading to Camp I at 6400 meters. The first camp lies in a great location and shelters itself below the rocks on the base of the Northwest Ridge. The route follows the Northwest ridge from the Camp I and opens onto Northwest face of the mountain. The camp II lies at an altitude 7200 meters. Some expeditions also fix an intermediate camp C1 and C2, at about 6600 meters. While most of the operators fix their high camp at about 7450 meters below the yellow bands, some occasionally start the summit from Camp II.
It does not make a greater difference in Cho Oyu. Spring starts with being cold and gradually warms up thus acclimatization might be slightly tough. In spring, mountaineers can wait for the transition between the winter winds and monsoon snowfall. For sure you would not like to face the big snow dump on Cho Oyu. Mostly the spring climb is after during mid-May.
The autumn offers a beautiful and comfortable climb. The autumn offers the trekkers with a superb visibility. September and October are most common period during the autumn. There is a lot of snow and the mountain also posses the high danger of avalanche. Therefore, climbers usually stop till the snowfall stops and the snow consolidate.
Although the Mount Cho Oyu is considered the easiest climb among the eight thousanders, the truth is nothing is easy in 8,000 meters. Thus, you strictly need a perfect physical condition and a prior experience of mountaineering at least up to 6,000 meters. Mountain climbing is a serious task and involves several risks. Being well equipped and having an experienced team is a necessity. Before making an attempt to Cho Oyu, make sure you do have a prior winter climbing experience.
Mount Cho Oyu does not completely lack oxygen like in the Everest. While many of the climbers consider taking an extra supplement of oxygen, you can make your decision whether or not to take it with you. Carrying oxygen will make you better insured for just in case. Supplementary oxygen might come in use while resting in the high camp or during the summit day, while climbing or descending back. Moreover, supplemental oxygen also tends to reduce the chances of frostbite. Thus, carrying oxygen supplement is never a bad idea because it will make you secured.
The excitement of reaching the summit of the eight thousanders is beyond imagination. Since, Cho Oyu will fill your heart with the best ever climbing experience; it becomes your core responsibility no to hamper the ecosystem in the mountain. Tons of plastic and water bottles are polluting the mountains and the base camps. Thus, make sure your expedition is more mountain-friendly and do not hamper the environment. The cleaner the mountains are, the more they sustain and the more we have to explore in future.
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