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Asia, Tibet, Cho Oyu from Tibet in the Post-Monsoon

Cho Oyu from Tibet in the Post-Monsoon. Cho Oyu was successfully climbed in the autumn by 35 climbers, bringing the total of foreign—or non-Sherpa—summiters to 409. All, except for the brilliant Japanese trio whose climb is recorded under the Nepalese section, climbed or hoped to climb the mountain on the Tibetan side, including those who planned to slip across the frontier from Nepal. Two of these latter teams never got onto the mountain. For a number of years, climbers have obtained permits from the Nepalese government to scale Cho Oyu and have then slipped illegally across the border and followed the easiest route, which is on the Tibetan side. It is simpler and easier to get to the mountain this way and the total cost is much less. But this September when 7 Americans and 1 Khazakh led by Neal Beidleman and 6 Spaniards and 1 American led by Iñaki Otxoa de Olza moved across the Nangpa La, they met with an unpleasant surprise. The Sports Commission of Tibet has given full authority to one of the China-Tibet Mountaineering Association’s deputy general secretaries, Rinzin Phinzo, to check unauthorized ascents. Since June, a team of five has been posted just north of the Nangpa La. Despite the lack of some fingers, which he lost to frostbite when he was on Everest in 1988, Rinzin Phinzo had a pistol in a holster at his waist, but he was most cordial to one of the Americans whom he met just north of the pass and even invited him to lunch. The situation became quite clear when the Tibetan displayed a thick wad of American dollars and wrote the number 2000 in the snow: welcome to Tibet and Cho Oyu—at US $2000 per climber, payable in cash in advance. There were seven members in the Spanish group; the price offered to them, they said, was a total of only $13,000. The Americans and Spanish teams abandoned their plans for Cho Oyu. Some of the Americans (who had the noted Khazakh Anatoli Burkeev as deputy leader) had previously been alarmed by the perceived threat to themselves and their possessions from fierce-looking Tibetans who had crossed illegally into Nepal close to their Base Camp. Those who made the ascent from Tibet legally were as follows: of 4 Frenchman led by Yves Salino: on September 26 for the 152nd ascent, Salino, Robert Geoffrey, Georges Frey, Ang Rita Sherpa, Pasang Jambu Sherpa; of 13 South Koreans led by Um Hong-Gil: on September 27, Park Young-Seok, Ngati Sherpa and on September 28, Cha Jin-Choa, Han Sang-Kook, Han Wuang-Yong, Panuru Sherpa; of 8 Japanese led by Kazuo Fukase: on September 29, Tomonori Harada, Shigeki Imoto, Kunga Sherpa, Nawang Dorje Sherpa and on October 4, Hiroroshi Tabata, Shinji Sasahara, Chhong Ringe Sherpa, Lhakpa Gyalu Sherpa (Lhakpa Gyalu died four days later, on October 8, apparently from an intestinal blockage); of 10 Tibetans led by Samdruk: on September 30, Akebu, Da Chimyi, Dachung, Gyalbu, Lodue, Pemba Tashi, Ren Na, Tshering Dorjee, Wangyal; of 5 Frenchmen led by Pierre Gay-Perret: on October 2, François Bibollet; of 3 New Zealanders and 2 Americans led by Rob Hall: on October 6, New Zealanders Rob Hall, Mrs. Jan Arnold, American Ed Viesturs. Led by Michel David, 8 Frenchmen reached a highpoint of 7300 meters on September 11. Led by Tateo Nishikawa, 8 Japanese climbed to 7500 meters in mid-October.

Elizabeth Hawley