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Asia, Nepal, Cho Oyu from Nepal in the Pre-Monsoon Season

Cho Oyu from Nepal in the Pre-Monsoon Season. There was nothing new or unclimbed about the ascents on Cho Oyu (8201 meters, 26,906 feet) made by expeditions in the spring of 1993. All the Cho Oyu teams, three from Nepal and seven with permits to climb from Tibet, basically used the same route on the west side of the peak pioneered by the Austrian Tichy in 1954. Twenty-six men and women reached Cho Oyu’s summit this season, bringing the grand total of summiters to 362, of whom only 35 have climbed any other route. What was new on Cho Oyu this spring was the unexpected reception given by Tibetan security men to the teams that had the Nepalese government’s permission to climb in Nepal but, like many others before them, crossed the international border without authorization to follow in Tibet the Tichy route to the summit. Each of the three parties from Nepal, one German and two Spanish, had pitched two camps in Tibet and expected to climb to the summit soon when, in late April, the Germans were accosted by Tibetan police. Sherpas from a large expedition of Swiss and Austrians, authorized to climb on the Tibetan side, had met with the police at their Base Camp because of problems with bandits in the area. They had also complained that climbers had come over from Nepal and crowded onto their route. The police then went up to meet the Germans. The German leader of six Germans and two Austrians, Peter Guggemos, was told he could pay $15,000 to continue, almost twice what each client had paid him. The police escorted him down to the Swiss Base Camp. After three hours of negotiations, it was agreed that he could pay $5000 for his group to resume their ascent. He rushed down to his base on the Nepalese side to fetch the necessary funds. One of his party, German Georg Seifried, reached the summit on April 26. Eight Spaniards led by José Joaquín Betelu and solo Spaniard Gumersindo Ibañez decided not to risk being caught and retreated from 5600 and 6600 meters respectively.

Elizabeth Hawley