Asia, Nepal, Cho Oyu Attempt

Publication Year: 1988.

Cho Oyu Attempt. Matt Baker, Ney Grant, Ron Reno, Kirk Swanson, Dr. Rich Gerhauser and I as leader, accompanied by Base Camp helpers Sue Baker, John Bell and Mona Livingston, attempted the so-called traditional “southwest” ridge route from Nepal, which is in actual fact the northwest ridge. Only one high-altitude Sherpa was employed above Base Camp. We established Base Camp at Kangchung (5200 meters) on April 12. Advance Base at 5950 meters was occupied on April 22, close by the Chilean camp. A commercial expedition from Europe with over 20 members, which had approached from the Tibetan side, was also there. Camps I, II, III and IV were established at 6400, 6800, 7200 and 7600 meters on April 25, 27, 29 and 30. At Camp IV, Swanson and Grant were joined by two Chileans; another Chilean pair had reached the summit a couple of days earlier. Bad weather stopped a summit attempt on May 1 and continued bad weather forced a descent to Camp II on May 2 and to Base Camp on May 4. No subsequent summit attempt was made since most of our supplies had been removed from Advance Base on the Tibetan side by unknown persons. On April 25, having carried to Camp I, I was confronted by Chinese army and police officials, who confiscated the Nepalese climbing permit and my passport and prevented me from climbing higher. I descended to Base Camp to report on the political border difficulties now developing over the route. Apparently a border re-alignment moved the border south to the Nangpa La and the natural drainage divide between the two countries. This puts the original ascent route and the Messner variation in Tibet. Future climbing parties attempting the mountain from Nepal via the Thame valley and the Nangpa Glacier may experience similar difficulties. It is also possible that a Chinese customs post is being constructed at or near Dzapama and the border may be patrolled during the climbing season. Possibly an agreement could be reached with climbing authorities in Beijing, permitting an expedition to approach the mountain from Nepal and to cross over into Tibet for the actual ascent on the upper reaches of the mountain.

Robert Watters, Unaffiliated