American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Tibet, Cho Oyu, Various Ascents in the Post-Monsoon Season

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1997

Cho Oyu, Various Ascents in the Post-Monsoon Season. The Himalayan season’s greatest success numerically was not on any mountain in Nepal but on Cho Oyu from Tibet, where 16 of the autumn’s 21 Cho Oyu expeditions claimed an unprecedented total of 77 summiters, and three of these successful men also went to the top not just once but twice. This triumph on Cho Oyu, 8201 meters high, would seem to confirm that the standard west ridge/face route on the world’s sixth highest mountain is probably the least difficult route on any 8000er.

Not quite all those who summited Cho Oyu this autumn followed the standard route. A team of four Spaniards and an Austrian led by Oscar Cadiach reported they had succeeded in scaling the previously unclimbed north ridge, a steep (45 to 75 degrees), “impressive” and “very nice” route, as Cadiach described it. The successful north-ridge summiters were just Cadiach and the Austrian member, Sebastian Ruckensteiner, in a truly alpine-style ascent (no Sherpas, no artificial oxygen) from a camp at a pass called Palung La at 6500 meters. After having acclimatized with a climb to the top of the 7012-meter peak called Palung Ri just north of Cho Oyu, the two men made two bivouacs as they moved up the north ridge, which begins at the pass. They left their higher bivouac at 7500 meters at 9 a.m. on September 28, reached the 8201-meter summit at 6 p.m., and returned to their bivouac at 10 p.m. The next day they joined the standard route down to their advance base camp in mildly windy and cloudy weather.

Elizabeth Hawley

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