Autumn 2001 Cho Oyu Expedition 
Directed by Eric Simonson • Lead by John Race 

Expedition Dispatches
Dispatches will be added in chronological order below as news comes in from the climbing team in Tibet.

Phil Ershler
Cho Oyu Camp 1
Dispatch 1
John Race reports from Kathmandu
Stardate August 27, 2001, Our 2001 IMG Autumn Cho Oyu expedition has reached Kathmandu and we are preparing to leave for 6 or 7 weeks in Tibet. The team looks strong and people are getting to know each other pretty quickly.

The rain this afternoon has been very impressive and has made it clear that the monsoon is not over yet. This very same rain will be depositing snow in the mountains, but also keeping temperatures warm early in the expedition.

We are expecting there to eventually be 24 to 29 expeditions on the Tibetan side of the mountain. I am happy that we are getting an early start on the climb. Hopefully our early efforts will keep us well ahead of the mayhem that 29 expeditons will inevitably breed. The positive side is that many of the other expeditions are led by people we have come to know well over the years and we should be able to share the work of building a route, breaking trail, and establishing camps.

I am going to keep this short as jet-lag has destroyed my ability to stay awake much past 7pm, and we have an early start tomorrow morning.

Our planned itinerary from here is:
    Aug 28 Fly to Lhasa
    Aug 29 Visit Lhasa
    Aug 30 Drive to Shigatse
    Aug 31 Drive to Tingri
    Sept 1 Accimate in Tingri
    Sept 2 establish basecamp

—John Race, Expedition Leader

Dispatch 2
John Race reports from Lhasa
Wednesday August 29th at 4pm. We are in Lhasa. We arrived here yesterday and are staying at the New Century Hotel. The place is really clean and nice. Lhasa ain't the same place I visited in 1994. Absolutely crazy how much it has changed.

It is raining cats and dogs in Lhasa. Tibet is very green and beatiful right now. We are comfortable with a raincoat and light shirt outside. The group is getting along very well. Famous lines from recent meals include "dig deep find puppy," "This meat dissolves too fast in my mouth to be testicle," and everyone is very impressed with the hotel warning not to bring radioactive things into the room. We are having a good time, are healthy, and acclimating well. We will visit the summer palace this afternoon, then head out tomorrow am.

—John Race, Expedition Leader

Dispatch 3
Team arrives Base Camp
After an exciting ride across Tibet, the IMG Cho Oyu team has safely arrived at Base Camp on the morning of September 2, right on schedule. After two days of being tourists in Lhasa (about 11,000 feet), the team drove by jeep to Shigatse (at about 12,000 feet, Tibet's second largest city, and the location of the nearest decent hospital), then travelled another day by jeep to Tingri, the small town about two hours from Base Camp. After two nights in Tingri (about 14,200 feet) for acclimatization, the team rode jeeps up the Gyabrag Valley to Base Camp (about 15,000 feet). Base Camp is situated below the lateral moraines on the outwash plain below the Gyabrag Glacier. It's a beautiful valley with a nice river, used by local people for sheep and yak grazing, and for acess to the famous Nangpa La, the pass to Namche Bazaar in Nepal. John Race reports that everyone is doing well, and that there are no big problems. The weather is warm, with occasional light rain. Unlike the spring season, when Tibet is dry and bare, the autumn season is green and lush. The plan is for the team to take several more days at Base Camp, doing acclimatization hikes, before heading up. The yaks are scheduled to arrive on the 4th, and start up to Advanced Base Camp on the 5th.

—Eric Simonson, IMG Director

Dispatch 4
IMG Team prepares to move to Advanced Base Camp
Expedition Leader John Race reports that the IMG team has been busy preparing loads and getting ready to leave Base Camp on September 5. The ten western climbers and five sherpas will be accompanied by about 35 Tibetan yaks and 12 yak drivers from one of the local villages. The yaks will carry about 30 kilos per load (2 loads per yak). This is more than they can carry in the springtime season (because the yaks are stronger in the autumn after they have been eating grass all summer). The team will move up to Interim Camp, at about 17,000 feet for one night, en route to ABC (at about 18,500'). This will be the only time that members sleep at Interim Camp. Later in the trip, when people are better acclimatized, climbers will go directly up and down to and from BC and ABC. Right now there are five other teams at Base Camp getting ready to move up, and three teams at Advanced Base Camp (these are reportedly one Japanese and two Korean). So far so good!

—Eric Simonson, IMG Director

Dispatch 5
IMG Team arrive at Advance Base Camp
The IMG Cho Oyu team has now arrived safe and sound at Advanced Base Camp, approximately 18,500 feet, after two days of hiking. All the yak loads also made it up intact. ABC is situated on the moraine of a side moraine of the Gyabrag Glacier, within sight of the famous Nangpa La, the main trade route to Nepal from this part of Tibet. It is not unusual to see groups of Tibetan traders crossing the pass with their yaks to trade salt and clothes, or Nepalese Sherpas carrying dried buffalo hides to Tingri (used by the Tibetans for making shoes). The team is now preparing for the puja on the 9th, with the first carry to Camp 1 scheduled for the following day. John Race reports that the weather has been warm and damp, with clear mornings and snowfall in the afternoons, and mild temperatures. So far everything is going well for the group with no problems!

—Eric Simonson, IMG Director

Dispatch 6
Eric Simonson's Sept 10th Update
John Race reports that the Cho Oyu team is doing well. Yesterday (Sept 9) the Sherpas and members had their puja ceremony at ABC. Today (10th) everyone completed a carry to Camp 1 (at about 20,600 feet) in good time (4-5) hours. Mike Bell is staying at C1 to sleep. The others came down for a rest day, then will go back to sleep at Camp 1 on the night of the 12th. On the 13th they hope to go up and have a practice climb/acclimatization day on the ridge between C1 and C2. Included in this will be climbing the ice cliff to get used to ascending the steep fixed rope and rapelling down.

The conditions on the mountain are reported by the team to be good, with very mild temperatures and with no wind. There has been snowfall nearly every afternoon, but there does not seem to be any accumulation on the mountain since the temperatures are warm and the snow settles. The route is fixed to C2 now (by the Koreans and Japanese who were there first) and the IMG team is going to carry rope higher to fix on summit day.

John reports that a Korean climber died yesterday near the IMG Advanced Base Camp. Apparently the guy was being carried down (after having been sick at ABC for several days) and he died on the trail.

IMG Trekkers Olivia and Gavin, are going to go back down to BC on the 13th, and will trek to Everest Base Camp at Rongbuk with several Tibetans and yaks after that. We have had teams trek into Everest Base Camp several times now, and it is a good adventure (cross Lamna La pass, about 16,800 feet which is between the Everest and Cho Oyu drainages). More on this to follow!

—Eric Simonson, IMG Director

Dispatch 7
Eric Simonson's Update
John Race called me at home at 7:45am here in Washington State and said they were listening to the news of the terrorist bombings on the shortwave radio at ABC. I told them to enjoy the peace and quite of Tibet! All's well with them, and they are on schedule to go to Camp 1 tomorrow.

—Eric Simonson, IMG Director

Dispatch 8
Eric Simonson's Update
John Race reports from ABC that JR, State, Bruce, and Chris spent the night of the 12th at C1 and climbed to the top of the icecliff on the 13th. Reid and Mike went to the base of the cliff. Steve and Scott climbed a nearby peak.

Everyone is doing well.

Now they are taking a rest day, and will go back up to carry a load to C2 and possibly stay up there and sleep at Camp 2, depending on the conditions, etc.

—Eric Simonson, IMG Director

Dispatch 9
Planning for a Summit Bid
John Race reports from ABC that all's well and that the weather has improved significantly in the last few days. Things are drying out and there has been much less snowfall. Conditions were good for their recent foray to Camp 2.

On September 16th John, Slate, Chris, Mike, Reid, and Bruce went to Camp 1 to spend the night. On the 17th John, Slate, Chris, and Mike climbed to Camp 2 (23,300 feet) and spent the night there. Reid and Bruce made it partway, but turned back. On the 18th they all descended to ABC and now plan to rest for three days (19, 20, 21) before making a summit bid. Steve and Scott are planning to go to Camp 2 on the 19th to sleep, prior to their summit bid.

Olivia returned to ABC today after a good trek to Rongbuk Base Camp with Gavin. They trekked three days via Lamna La pass over to the Rongbuk Valley, where our jeep picked them up and transported them up to the Base Camp. Olivia reported that the weather was great and that they had good views of all the mountains. After going to Rongbuk, the jeep took them back to Tingri, and Gavin continued on to the border at Zhangmu, and on to Kathmandu. Olivia caught the jeep on the return to Cho Oyu Base Camp, and hiked up to ABC yesterday.

The plan for the summit bid is to go to C1 on the 22, C2 on the 23, C3 on the 24, and summit on the 25 (if all goes according to plan!)

—Eric Simonson, IMG Director

Dispatch 10
Moving Up
John Race and the IMG team are moving up now for the summit attempt. Unlike some of the other teams on Cho Oyu this autumn, JR was committed to giving team members the opportunity to sleep at Camp 2 (23,300 feet, about 7100 meters) for better acclimatization prior to going to the top. After doing this last week, the team descended to ABC (18,500) for three rest days.

On the 20th Kami, Phu Nuru, and Da Nuru carried to Camp 3 from ABC, and back (an amazing performance!) establishing that camp. On that same day Ang Passang went to BC and talked to the CTMA Liason Officer about upgrading Olivia's status so she could join the climbing team.

Now the team are all feeling good, and are all moving up. The plan is to go to Camp 1 (20,600) on the 22nd, to Camp 2 on the 23rd, to Camp 3 on the 24th, and hopefully, to the top on the 25th. The weather is good, so our fingers are crossed!

—Eric Simonson, IMG Director

Dispatch 11
Camp 3, Evening of Sept 24
John Race just called down from Camp 3 and talked to Scott at ABC. Scott just called Eric Simonson on the satellite phone and reports that the guided team (JR, Slate, Bruce, Chris, Olivia) are settled in at Camp 3 and ready to start for the summit early tomorrow morning. Their three Sherpas will come up from Camp 2 and meet them at C3 in the morning (the Sherpas would rather climb from C2 than C3). Each guided climber has oxygen at Camp 3 for sleeping on tonight, and for climbing tomorrow. Their goal for tomorrow is to go to the summit, then descend to Camp 2. The second team (Mike and Reid, and one Sherpa) are at Camp 2 now, and will move up to Camp 3 tomorrow, and hope for the summit the next day (the 26th). Scott and Steve are at ABC and will start for the summit tomorrow.

—Eric Simonson, IMG Director

Dispatch 12
Summit News, Sept 26
John Race called from ABC with the update on the last two days of the expedition: John, Slate, Chris, Bruce, Olivia, Phu Nuru, Danuru, and Ang Passang all went for the summit yesterday morning, starting at 1 am. The weather started out OK, but became marginal, with a big lenticular cloud forming over the top, and some thunderstorms in the area. Slate and Chris turned back with Ang Passang from a little below the top. John continued with the others to the summit plateau, where Chris decided to turn back. John turned around with him at this point. Olivia, Phu Nuru, and Danuru went on to cross the plateau to the tippy top. Today Mike, Reid, and Kami reached also the summit, and are now back down OK. Steve and Scott are currently on their summit attempt, and we hope to hear in the next 24 hours about them.

—Eric Simonson, IMG Director

Dispatch 13
Another Summit, Sept 27
John Race reports via sat phone from ABC that Steve and Scott made their summit bid today in one nonstop push. Steve made the summit (27 hours roundtrip from ABC) while Scott felt sick and turned at C3 and came down to stay with Mike and Reid at C2 (who were coming down from their summit climb the day before). The Sherpas are now stripping the camps and hauling down all the gear from the upper mountain. The yaks have been ordered, and the team intends to descend to Base Camp in the next few days, and continue to Kathmandu in early October. John reports everyone is happy and doing well, with no problems or injury.

—Eric Simonson, IMG Director

Dispatch 14
IMG team returns back to Kathmandu safe and sound, Oct 1
John Race reports that the trip back to Kathmandu went well. The road was in good shape and there were no problems at the border. All the members are in good health and no problems. Yahoo! Congrats to John and the rest of the team!

—Eric Simonson, IMG Director

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