American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Nepal, Cho Oyu, Southwest Face

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1995

Cho Oyu, Southwest Face. The only people to climb Cho Oyu from Nepal in the post-monsoon accomplished a remarkable achievement. They were just two Japanese women and a man: Miss Taeko Nagao, leader and Miss Yuka Endo, both already with three 8000ers to their credit, and Yasushi Yamanoi with two. They climbed in pure alpine-style on Cho Oyu’s southwest face, which had been scaled only once before, by Swiss Loretan and Troillet and Pole Kurtyka in 1990. The women were the first to repeat the 1990 route while Yamanoi ascended solo a totally new route to the left of it. The trio left their only fixed camp at the normal Advance Base at 5600 meters on September 21 and stayed together to the bottom of the face at 6000 meters, where they separated for their two different routes. At 8:30 P.M. that evening, Yamanoi began his solo ascent. He climbed until four A.M. 1200 vertical meters on a 60° hard snow face with some ice. Then he stopped for three hours to rest and wait for daylight. He decided to follow a couloir of rock and snow to the right and made his first bivouac at 7600 meters at the top of the couloir at four P.M. He slept there in his tiny tent and at six A.M. on the 23rd resumed his climb, which was now through very deep snow, then up a 40-meter rock band at 8000 meters. Finally, more deep snow to the summit, and a two-or three-hour search for the highest point, which he reached at four P.M. He descended the normal route on Cho Oyu’s west side and bivouacked a second time at 7000 meters. He reached the team’s camp at 5600 meters at six P.M. on the 24th. Meanwhile, Miss Nagao and Mrs. Endo set out an hour and a half after Yamanoi. They had had no previous experience of climbing at night, and the moonlight helped little. They climbed through the night of September 21/22, went to the end of a wrong gullythat led left at 6700 meters and bivouacked there. They descended several hundred meters the next morning and traversing right, found the correct line. They bivouacked the night of the 23rd at 7700 meters. On the 24th, they made a deep-snow traverse which had to be packed by kneeling on it. This made progress slow and they had to bivouac again at 8000 meters. On September 25, they gained the summit at 1:30 P.M. through even deeper snow that came up to the chests of these two short women—only 156 and 163 centimeters or 5 feet 1 inch and five feet four inches tall. They also went down the normal route, made a final bivouac at 7000 meters and were back in camp on the 26th. [Miss Nagao has graciously given a few more details, which we have added, and she has checked out this report.]

Elizabeth Hawley

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