International Mountain Guides Climbing and Mountaineering Expeditions

2010 Autumn Cho Oyu Coverage

Tibet  •  26,906'  •  8201m

2010 Autumn Cho Oyu Expedition Coverage

Led by: Mike Hamill  •  Expedition directed by: Eric Simonson
Meet the Team (lower on this page) »

October 5, 2010  •  Cho Oyu 2010 is a Wrap

The IMG autumn 2010 Cho Oyu Expedition is done. Everyone made it out of Tibet and returned back to Kathmandu safely, and all have now headed on to new destinations. We had a excellent team this year, terrific guides and Sherpas, everything went well, but Cho Oyu had the last word!

I have been going to the Himalayas for over thirty years and have had a lot of great trips as well as a few not so great ones. The Himalayas are an incredible challenge, and they will change you, hopefully for the better. My very first Himalayan trip to Annapurna back in 1979 was one of those trips that change you, hammering home the lesson that you have to know when to retreat so you can come back and try again another time.
PDF docThe story of Eric Simonson's legendary decision on Annapurna »
(Originally published in the American Alpine Journal, 1980)

We'll be back to Cho Oyu, it is still THE best 8000m peak for first timers to go high in the Himalaya!

—Eric Simonson, IMG Director

September 28, 2010  •  Climbers Down; Heading for Home

IMG leader Mike Hamill reports from ABC that all members and Sherpas are now down, and the equipment has all been carried down. They are packing up and leaving on the 30th and expecting to be back to Kathmandu on the 1st.

Mike gave some more details on the turnaround decision. It sounds like the Sherpa fixing crew kicked off yet another avalanche up high, above the Yellow Band, and several of them were carried some distance. There were some minor injuries, but it sounds like everyone is OK. There is just too much snow this year; it has been a very persistent monsoon season.

This was the 22nd Cho Oyu expedition that IMG has done, and only the second time we have not made the top. We want to make the top as much as anybody, and we'll try super hard to be successful, but most important is the safety of our team members. Sometimes the mountain just says no! It is just great to know everyone is safe and sound and on their way home now.

—Eric Simonson, IMG Director

September 27, 2010  •  Too Much Snow!

IMG leader Mike Hamill called on the sat phone to report that the weather is good, and the team made it up to C1 in fine shape. Yesterday the rope-fixing sherpas made it up to C2, and today they climbed to C3 to check the snow conditions higher up and fix the Yellow Band and slopes above C3.

Unfortunately, the news is not good. IMG sherpas Danuru (9 Cho Oyu ascents) and Mingma Tenzing, along with a number of sherpas from other teams, found the conditions above C3 to still be heavy, loaded with snow, and unsafe. They have decided to pull the plug on the fixing, and are descending.

Mike and the climbers are spending the night at C1 but are going to come back down to ABC tomorrow and head for home. There is just too much snow up high. It sounds like a number of the other teams have made the same decision. We'll keep you posted on their departure plans.

—Eric Simonson, IMG Director

September 25, 2010  •  Cho Oyu Climbers Heading Back Up

Mike Hamill reports that they have had several days of improved weather now, so the team is hopeful that the snow conditions are stabilizing up higher. We have now extended the expedition past the planned itinerary, and unfortunately, some members have been forced to depart due to previous commitments.

The remaining climbers are hanging tough and ready to climb. We have the Sherpa team heading up to C2 today (the 26th in Tibet) and they plan to fix the Yellow Band the next day (the 27th ) if they feel comfortable with the slopes above C2. The IMG climbers are planning to go to C1 on the 27th, C2 on the 28th, C3 on the 29th, and summit on the 30th. We'll keep you posted!

—Eric Simonson, IMG Director

September 22, 2010  •  Change of plans — Summit bid on hold

Mike Hamill reports that the team turned back short of C1, and they have how returned back to ABC. They were hoping the snowfall today was going to let up, but it kept coming down harder, and they decided to spin and wait for more improvement before heading up.

—Eric Simonson, IMG Director

September 21, 2010  •  Cho Oyu Summit Bid Begins

We're pulling the trigger. We just finished breakfast and are headed to C1 in a few minutes. It's snowing a bit this morning as predicted, but it should be a lot drier for the rest of the week. We're shooting for the 25th as our summit day.

The Sherpas are headed to C2 today (the 22nd in Tibet), planning to carry to C3 and fix on the 23rd or 24th, conditions depending. All the fixing gear is at C2 and there is a team of at least 7 Sherpa committed to help with the summit fixing, including Da Nuru and Mingma Tenzing from IMG. Ang Passang has done a great job helping to organize the fixing. All is well here, and the team is healthy.

—Mike Hamill, Expedition Leader

September 20, 2010  •  Rope Fixing on Cho Oyu

IMG Leader Mike Hamill reports from ABC that:

"The weather has improved and the IMG team is still resting at ABC. Our plan is to summit on the 25th, so another rest day tomorrow and then we'll head up. We had a rope fixing meeting with all the other teams at the TMA [Tibet Mountaineering Association] camp yesterday. The TMA fixing team is in shambles. A few of their seven rope fixers were injured in the avalanche. The rest that are OK but are traumatized, including the four that weren't even up there, and they have all left the mountain and won't help anymore with the fixing. We have now been able to secure enough fixed rope, gear, and Sherpa power at the meeting amongst the other groups to finish the fixing and Ang Pasang [IMG sirdar] and Pema [Jagged Globe sirdar] are going to be organizing that. The rope and gear is coming up from base camp today, to C1 tomorrow, and up to C2 the following day. Summit fixing will hopefully get done on the 23rd but it might not happen until the 24th. The weather is great now and it sounds like it will only get better on the 23rd and 24th."

From the IMG standpoint, we are glad to see the various expedition teams again working together to get the fixing done. This is how it has been accomplished for many seasons on both Cho Oyu and Everest, and we feel strongly that it is in the best interest for teams to work together.

Fixing the route on Cho Oyu is straightforward and requires maybe 3000 meters total rope. IMG brought 1300 meters of rope and many anchors and since we were the first team we fixed most of the way to C2 and were prepared with Jagged Globe and Adventure Consultants (who both also brought plenty of rope), along with other teams, to finish the job.

Without any advance notice this season the TMA tried to take over the rope fixing for profit, charging an exorbitant amount of money ($100 per climber, so over $30,000 if everyone had paid!) Teams that were reluctant to pay were subjected to harassment, verbal abuse, and physical threats by the Tibetans. The snow and weather conditions were terrible when the TMA climbers went up to try to fix the Yellow Band and it was obvious to everyone on the mountain that the avalanche conditions were very high up there with all the recent snowfall.

This whole episode has been poorly handled by the TMA and they are very fortunate not to have lost several of their climbers, who owe their lives to the good efforts of other teams that worked hard to rescue them.

—Eric Simonson, IMG Director

September 18, 2010  •  Weather Improving

IMG Leader Mike Hamill reports that the weather has improved a bit, and the TMA team got the injured Tibetan climber out last night. He is stable with just a broken rib. We are hoping to get some climbers back up to finish the rope-fixing above C3 once the slopes have stabilized from the recent snowfall. Mike says that if the weather and conditions continue to improve, the IMG team is on track to launch their summit bid in the next few days.

Our weather forecaster Michael Fagin at EverestWeather.com reports that there is still a lot of moisture associated with the monsoon to the south in Nepal, and we are still getting weak pulses of moisture pushing up from this weather system. Hopefully the winds will keep shifting more to westerly, which will cut off the moist flow and dry things out for the climbers. We'll keep you posted!

—Eric Simonson, IMG Director

September 17, 2010  •  Snowy Conditions on Cho Oyu

IMG leader Mike Hamill reports from ABC that the weather at Cho Oyu is bad today, with wind and snowfall. Our team members are at ABC hanging out, where there has not been too much accumulation of snow. Mike reports that several of the TMA climbers were trying to fix in the Yellow Band above C3 this morning (Tibet time) and were caught in an avalanche and injured. They are currently being evacuated, and we'll keep our fingers crossed for them.

—Eric Simonson, IMG Director

September 16, 2010  •  IMG Climbers Finish Camp 2 Rotation

The team has now returned to ABC from a successful acclimatization rotation to Camp 2. The weather has been excellent, but after returning, the wind picked up, and we've had snow since. We are now hoping to head up on a summit bid after four days of rest, weather depending. Six Sherpa are carrying two oxygen bottles each to C2 today. TMA was supposed to fix to the summit today but the weather is too bad. Hopefully the weather will improve, and they'll be able to get the route in soon. Once I have nailed down a summit schedule a bit more I'll give you a heads up. For now we're just resting in ABC in bad weather.

—Mike Hamill, Expedition Leader

September 12, 2010  •  Climbers Start Camp 2 Rotation

Mike Hamill reports from ABC that the team has started the C2 rotation. Jurg, Markus, Karl, Wolf, and three Sherpas headed to C1 today in beautiful weather, and the rest of the team will move to C1 tomorrow.

Our Sherpas have been busy the last couple days and they now have six tents, sleeping bags, and pads in place at C2 (about 23,000' or 7000m) so that camp is ready to occupy. After the team members overnight at C1, the first group will continue up to C2 tomorrow, with the second team a day behind them. So far so good!

—Eric Simonson, IMG Director

September 10, 2010  •  Climbers Finish Camp 1 Rotation; Back in ABC

IMG Leader Mike Hamill reports that the team had a good rotation to C1 (about 20,500 feet or 6250m) and that everyone is now back to the thicker air, good food, and hot showers of ABC.

In addition to sleeping at Camp 1, most of the group also continued up to the ice cliff, which is about halfway to C2.

The team is now planning three rest days in ABC before heading up to C2 on the next rotation, weather depending. Currently the weather is perfect but it sounds like some low pressure is headed towards the mountain. Four sherpas are now fixing the ice cliff and the rest of the route to C2 today. Mike reports that ABC is now starting to fill up as other teams arrive. Our guys have enjoyed having the mountain to themselves, but that is now starting to change.

—Eric Simonson, IMG Director

September 7, 2010  •  IMG Team Reaches Camp 1

IMG Leader Mike Hamill reports that the team is all healthy now and all is well here. Karl, Markus, and Wolf are on their way up to C1 to sleep with Kami and Karma Rita. Ang Pasang is up there today as well. Da Nuru and Mingma Tenzing are fixing a few pitches above C1 today so the climbers can go higher up tomorrow.

The main group will head to C1 tomorrow to spend one night, climb above C1 a bit, and then descend the following day. We're going through the technical harness set-up, etc today. The weather is a bit more unstable with snow and a bit of wind for most of today. This is the second day the Sherpas have carried to C1 so it's pretty well stocked.

So far so good!

—Eric Simonson, IMG Director

September 5, 2010  •  Team Puja

Mike Hamill reports from ABC that everyone is doing surprisingly well with the altitude, with almost no headaches or issues. Today the Sherpas and team members had a good puja ceremony, and also got the Bgan internet terminal up and running, two important things!

Mike reports that the weather seems to be stabilizing and pressure is rising. The team plans to hike towards C1 tomorrow and then come back down and sleep at ABC. Then, the next day they will rest and then they plan to head to C1 to sleep the following day.

—Eric Simonson, IMG Director

September 4, 2010  •  Climbers in ABC

Mike Hamill reports by sat phone that the team all made it up to ABC in good shape and that everyone is doing well. The IMG Sherpas did a great job getting the camp set up and all the yaks up there with the gear, so everything was looking good for the arrival of the climbers. Cho Oyu ABC is quite high, at nearly 18,500 feet, so one thousand feet higher than Everest Base Camp. That is why it was super important for them to move up there slowly, with lots of acclimatization hiking along the way.

The team will now do their puja at ABC, the sherpa blessing ceremony which marks the traditional beginning of the climb. Then, over the next few days, the Sherpas will start working on putting in Camp 1, and the climbers will continue their acclimatization with several day trips up toward Camp 1, before they move up there for an overnight.

So far so good!

—Eric Simonson, IMG Director

September 3, 2010  •  Team on the way to ABC

Mike Hamill reports by sat phone that the climbers had a good night at Interim Camp (IC), and now they are on the way to Advanced Base Camp. Everyone is doing well, the weather remains good, and they expect to reach ABC later today. Interim Camp, as the name suggests, is only used for one night. Situated on the east lateral moraine of the Gyabrag Glacier, it has a good water source and space for camping. In recent years the Chinese have built a rough jeep road all the way to IC which is useful for emergency evacuation, but our climbers are walking from Base Camp. After all, they are trying to get acclimatized! The yak drivers will also stay there and go up to ABC and back tomorrow, so they don't have to haul extra yak food up to ABC.

—Eric Simonson, IMG Director

August 31, 2010  •  Preparing for Moving to Advanced Base Camp

Mike Hamill reports from Cho Oyu BC at about 15,500 feet that everyone is doing very well. Today the team took another acclimatization hike and the Sherpas continued to pack up yak loads and get ready to move to Advanced Base Camp (ABC). Later in the afternoon they had some rain with some fresh snow on the higher hills above camp. Overall, however, the weather is quite good on the Tibet side of the range (unlike Nepal where the monsoon is still going strong).

IMG Sherpas Mingma Tenzing, Mingma Dorje, and Nima Karma and the Tibetan yak drivers made it up to ABC with 30 yaks today and are working to get that camp established. Each yak can carry about 60 kg (in the autumn season, when they are strong from summer grazing) with one 30kg load on each side. Tomorrow the yaks will come back down to Base Camp, and then the next day (Sep 2) the members and remaining Sherpas will move to the Interim Camp (IC), and then to ABC the following day.

—Eric Simonson, IMG Director

August 30, 2010  •  Team Reaches Base Camp

IMG Cho Oyu team leader Mike Hamill reports by sat phone from Cho Oyu Base Camp that the team is doing well and the base camp is looking good after the Sherpas went ahead and got it established. After travelling halfway around the world the team is all looking forward to spending a few days at BC relaxing, acclimatizing, and getting organized.

Mike says that it rained last night, and today it is clear with fresh snow on the hills above BC. They are doing an acclimatization hike today. Tomorrow the yak drivers will start hauling loads up to ABC with the Sherpas so that camp will be all ready to go in a few days when the climbers move up. The only other climbers currently on Cho Oyu are a large Chinese expedition.

So far so good!

—Eric Simonson, IMG Director

August 28, 2010  •  Tingri

Mike Hamill reports that the team had two good acclimatization nights in Nyalam with a nice hike yesterday. Weather is good. Today the climbers reached Tingri (over 14,000 feet), and the Sherpas continued on and have now established the Base Camp. Other than a few small headaches, the team continue to acclimatize well. After two nights in Tingri and some more acclimatization hiking, the team will head for Base Camp.

—Eric Simonson, IMG Director

August 27, 2010  •  Nyalam

Our IMG Cho Oyu Sirdar, Ang Passang, called at 07:30 Nepal time this morning to inform everyone is doing well and that they have now reached Nyalam (12,300 feet) where the members will spend two nights to acclimatize. Tomorrow the Sherpas will push on to Tingri, to get in position to start working on Base Camp. So far everyone is doing well.

—Eric Simonson, IMG Director

August 25, 2010  •  Team Heading for Nyalam

Ang Passang called at 07:30 Nepal time this morning to inform us that everyone is doing well, and they are on their way to Nyalam where the members will spend two nights to acclimatize.

—Eric Simonson, IMG Director

August 24, 2010  •  Zhangmu Today Nyalam Tomorrow

Jangbu reports that the team reached Kodari border OK this morning. They had some delay between Barabise and Kodari due to a landslide overnight but managed to get through and did not have to switch to different bus on the other side. The team had lunch in Kodari while Raju and CMA staff did the custom and border formalities. Members reached Zhangmu (13:30 Nepal time) and Sherpas are on their way after loading up the gear on two CMA trucks; they should reach there by 14:00 (Nepal time). Once they reach Zhangmu, Kaji will buy fresh food items.

We had a message later from Mike Hamill saying that they were safely across the border with the whole team and all the gear and had met the Chinese Liaison Officer. He noted that the border crossing is much more involved than it was in the past but all the paperwork was in order so it wasn't a problem. They are all set to head up to Nyalam in the morning, and the road heading up the canyon sounds like it is clear, despite recent heavy rains.

—Eric Simonson, IMG Director

August 23, 2010  •  Team Ready to Head Out of Kathmandu

Ang Jangbu reports good news, we got our Chinese visas this evening. We have returned passports to the members along with a copy of visa to each member.

The container truck left Kathmandu at around 1:45 pm and reached Kodari 7:30 pm. Just talked to Danuru and Raju in Kodari — they plan to clear customs before the rest of the team members get there around 10am tomorrow. The members are having a group dinner right now at the Rumdoodle, and they are scheduled to depart 5:30 am tomorrow.

—Eric Simonson, IMG Director

August 22, 2010  •  Autumn Cho Oyu Expedition Underway

Ang Jangbu reports from Kathmandu that everyone has arrived on schedule with no missing luggage, which is always great to hear. IMG guides Mike Hamill and Max Bunce are now doing gear checks with the expedition members. We will be collecting base camp duffels tomorrow morning and the sherpas will be loading the expedition gear into the truck at noon. Then, four of the sherpas with the truck will leave for Kodari (the Tibet border town) tomorrow afternoon.

We have scheduled the group dinner at the Rumdoodle restaurant tomorrow evening and then the rest of the sherpas and members will leave Kathmandu early the next morning by bus for the border. Despite the recent heavy rains here the road condition is okay so far–no major landslides.

—Eric Simonson, IMG Director

The IMG 2010 Autumn Cho Oyu Expedition Team

Cho Oyu Climbers

Expedition Leader:
Mike Hamill

Assistant Leader:
Max Bunce

Austin Graham, Australia
Juerg Bandle, Switzerland
Markus Buel, Switzerland
Noah Devereux, Great Britain
Carl Duester, USA
Karl Flock, Germany
Wolfgang Thomaseth, Italy
Valari Wedel, USA
Chuck Bickes, USA
Vanessa O'Brien, USA
Yonsuk Derby, USA
Andrew Maleckyj, Canada

Sherpa Team

Sirdar:
Ang Passang

Danuru Sherpa
Da Nuru Sherpa
Mingma Tenjing Sherpa
Mingma Dorjee Sherpa
Ngima Karma Sherpa
Karma Rita Sherpa
Ang Chhiring Sherpa
Kanchha Nuru Sherpa
Kaji Shrepa, Head Cook
Rinzing Sherpa, Assistant Cook

Cho Oyu Guided Climbing Expedition with International Mountain Guides
Cho Oyu Climbing Route
Current Time in Tibet:
More Photos & Video

See photos from past IMG Tibet Trek and Cho Oyu Climbing expeditions:

If this didn't hurt so much,
I'd be having fun!
~IMG climber on Cho Oyu
See the video »
The Summit Digits

IMG is proud to have led 222 people from 18 countries on 23 successful expeditions to the summit of Cho Oyu: See the full list »

Not only did IMG seem to have the best guiding, but we were by far the best provisioned. I wouldn't climb with anybody else and will do my best to steer folks your way.
~Bruce D.
I also found that Eric Simonson's reputation and experience in the Himalaya has given IMG leaders greater ease in dealing with the Chinese government, in choosing more experienced climbing Sherpas, and in interacting with the leaders of the other expeditions. It was this kind of experience, or lack of it, that determined which expeditions were successful and which were not on Cho Oyu...
~Greg Y.
I honestly believe you have one of the best guiding outfits on Cho Oyu. After seeing some of the other groups, I would certainly recommend IMG to anyone interested in going there...
~Joe C.
 
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