Historical: Expedition team reaches Cho Oyu from the Nepalese side

A few days ago, a seven-person expedition team led by Gelje Sherpa succeeded in a coup to climb Cho Oyu via a new route on the Nepalese side. The south side of Cho Oyu is considered to be technically very demanding and prone to avalanches.

On June 7th at 20.35:XNUMX p.m. Gelje Sherpa, Alasdair McKenzie, Chhangba Sherpa, Tenging Gyaljen Sherpa, Lakpa Temba Sherpa, Lakpa Tenji Sherpa and Ngima Ongda Sherpa stood at the summit of the Cho oyu. However, like most people, they did not climb the sixth highest mountain in the world from Tibet via the relatively easy northwest flank. No, the seven-person team managed to open up a new route through the complex and technically demanding southern side of Nepal.

The expedition team led by Gelje Sherpa climbed over the south-southwest ridge to the summit of Cho Oyu. Image: Seven Summit Treks
The expedition team led by Gelje Sherpa climbed over the southwest ridge to the summit of Cho Oyu. Image: Seven Summit Treks

17 hour push

On May 30, the expedition team secured the route with fixed ropes up to an altitude of 7625 meters. However, because they did not have enough rope for the other complex wall sections, they had to return to base camp. On June 4th, when all preparations were made, the team set off for the summit.

The seven mountaineers set off from Camp 2 at around 4 a.m. on the summit day. “After a continuous push of over 17 hours, they reached the summit of Cho Oyo,” reports Mingma Sherpa, who coordinated the expedition from the base camp.

First success in 15 years

The last ascent of Cho Oyu from the Nepalese side was 15 years ago. In 2009, the two Kazakhs Denis Urubko and Boris Dedeshko managed to open a new line through the south face in alpine style.

The two Austrians Edi Koblmüller and Alois Furtner opened the first route through the southeast face of Cho Oyu in 1978. At that time, the mountain was not yet open to mountaineering, which is why they climbed it without a permit.

In recent years, various teams have tried unsuccessfully to establish new routes on the south side of Cho Oyu. This included Gelje Sherpa, who was forced to retreat three times due to the challenging conditions.

Steep and technically demanding: The Nepalese south side of Cho Oyu. Image: Gelje Sherpa
Steep and technically demanding: The Nepalese south side of Cho Oyu. Image: Gelje Sherpa

New era for Nepalese high-altitude mountaineering?

From a Nepalese perspective, the ascent of Cho Oyu via the southwest ridge is not only important from a mountaineering perspective. The commercial expedition providers hope that this success will give them more independence from their northern neighbor. Until now, they were completely at the mercy of the Chinese authorities when climbing via the normal route on the Tibetan side.

The Nepalese tourism director Rakesh Gurung found clear words for the historical significance of this climb to the Everest Chronicle: "This marks a new era of mountaineering, which opens up new opportunities for mountaineers from the Nepalese side."

It remains to be seen to what extent the new route is suitable for commercial mountaineering. What is certain is that the Nepalese south side of the mountain is much more demanding and dangerous than the normal route. Gelje Sherpa says: “This route is extremely difficult to climb. This will be the route for commercial expeditions, but not for all climbers."

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Credits: Cover picture Gelje Sherpa

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