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Cho Oyu, Point 7,570m, Northwest Face, NIL

While climbing a new route on Palung Ri in 2006 (AAJ 2007), I looked at the possibility of a new route on the northwest face of Pt. 7,570m, directly opposite. In 2011 I was on Cho Oyu, guiding a group on the Normal Route. On a day off I studied Pt. 7,570ms northwest face from the Palung La (6,517m), at the head of the Gyabrag Chang Glacier, and climbed to 6,800m to check snow conditions and avalanche danger.

When we got a weather window, I attempted the route while my clients made a summit bid on Cho Oyu From base camp at 5,600m, I climbed with them to Camp 1 (6,400m), where they would spend the night with a Sherpa, and climb to Camp 2 the next day. I left at 8 p.m., climbed over the serac and onto the plateau above, and traversed under a large serac barrier to reach the face. I climbed the mixed face toward the right side and reached Pt. 7,570m, from where I traversed east to Camp 2 on the Cho Oyu's Normal Route. I arrived at the tents, which we had left during an acclimatization climb, between 6 and 6:30 am. The night had been good relatively mild with no wind, though there was no moon. During the ascent I'd encountered 55° snow and ULAA III rock I named the route NIL, after my son.

I waited that day for my clients to arrive, planning to set out with them the following night for the top. But we were unable to reach the top of Cho Oyu, so my new route on Pt. 7,570m does not finish on Cho Oyu's summit.

Back at base camp I got word that José Luis Quintana was at his Camp 2 (7,000m), unable to move after an unsuccessful summit attempt. I tried to assemble a rescue team of Sherpas and climbers, but people told me they were not interested. With two Sherpas I made an attempt to reach the camp but was driven back by a snow storm. On the third day I made another attempt, alone, and reached his tent at 10:30 p.m. He was unable to walk without assistance, and it took until 5 a.m. the following morning to get him down to Camp 1. From there I had help from Tibetan porters to bring him to base camp. [Tosas was hospitalized with frostbite.]

Climbing on 8,000m peaks is difficult to understand. Not the mountains but the people now attempting them. For me mountains have important human values, which it seems people have forgotten.