Cho Oyu, Oiarzabal record. In the post monsoon of 2003 Cho Oyu was attempted by 36 teams, ranging in size from one to 24 members. The mountain can expect even more teams in the autumn of 2004 to mark the 50th anniversary of its first ascent on October 19, 1954, when it was climbed by two Austrians, Herbert Tichy—whose name is often used to identify what is now the normal route—and Sepp Joechler, plus Pasang Dawa Lama from India.
Among the 150 summiters on Cho Oyu was the veteran Spanish Basque, Juanito Oiarzabal, who set an impressive record by having been 20 times to the highest summit of 8,000m mountains, including all 14 of the world’s 8,000m peaks. These include two ascents of Everest (in 1993 and 2001 by different routes). He had already summited Cho Oyu twice before (in 1985 and 2002) and he was again on the top, not just once but twice, 14 days apart. Already far into the fifth decade of his life, he says he has no plans to stop.
Oiarzabal's two Cho Oyu ascents this autumn put him ahead of the previous record holder, Ang Rita Sherpa, who, before his retirement from mountaineering, summited Everest ten times, Cho Oyu four times, Dhaulagiri I three times and Kangchenjunga once, giving him a total score of 18 summits over 8,000m at the end of 1996.
Elizabeth Hawley, Nepal