2011 Cho Oyu Climb Updates Tibet  •  26,906'  •  8201m
Expedition Coverage

2011 Cho Oyu Expedition Coverage

Led by: Craig John, Max Bunce, and Mike Hamill
Expedition directed by: Eric Simonson

Cho Oyu And Shishapangma Teams In Kathmandu

August 21, 2011

Ang Jangbu reports from Kathmandu that all of our Cho Oyu and Shishapangma climbers and their bags have arrived safely in Kathmandu—always a great way to start an expedition!

The Sherpas have now finished packing all the food and equipment into yak loads. They loaded the truck this evening, which will depart from Kathmandu early tomorrow morning for the border escorted by Panuru, Karma Rita and Pasang Nuri. Currently the road is open which is good news despite reports of some recent landslide activity.

The team receives their Chinese/Tibetan visas tomorrow, and then they will depart early the following morning. Tonight, the team had a “welcome dinner” at Hotel Tibet. After traveling half way around the world, it’s great to finally get all that traveling done, and have the chance to relax a bit with your team, knowing the trip has officially started!

Cho Oyu leaders Craig John and Max Bunce, and Shishapangma leader Mike Hamill report that everyone is doing well and are in good spirits!

—Eric Simonson, IMG Partner

Leaving For Tibet

August 22, 2011

The Cho Oyu and Shishapangma teams got their visas today from the Chinese Embassy and we are all scheduled leave the hotel at 6AM tomorrow morning. There was a land slide yesterday 7 km before Kodari (on the Nepal side of the border) down near the hydro dam. They tried to clear all day but didn’t quite finish opening the road for vehicles so our gear truck didn’t reach Kodari. Hopefully they will finish by the time we reach there around 10AM tomorrow. Raju (in Kodari) spoke to the CTMA and it sounds like our Liaison Officer and Chinese truck have reached Zhangmu, so they will be waiting for us once we cross the border.

Ang Jangbu Sherpa

Cho Oyu & Shishapangma Climbers Enter Tibet

August 23, 2011

I talked with Jangbu a while ago, and he reports that all the members, Sherpas, and luggage has all reached Zhangmu! This is great news, and it means that everything is proceeding on schedule. Just getting to Tibet is no small feat, and it sounds like the team had some issues en route. Jangbu said the rain started in Kathmandu and was constant all day.

They ended up waiting three hours at the landslide (before Kodari) before it was finally cleared. After crossing Friendship Bridge and entering Tibet, the team transferred to their Chinese vehicles (3 trucks, 2 jeeps, 1 mini bus) and they are now all at the hotel (about 8000 feet). Tomorrow the plan is to move on up the rugged valley to Nyalam (about 12000 feet).

—Eric Simonson, IMG Partner

Cho Oyu And Shishapangma Climbers Reach Nyalam

August 24, 2011

Ang Jangbu reports that the team successfully drove up the rugged Bhote Kosi gorge and have now reached Nyalam (a little over 12000 feet). Tomorrow he will send four Shishapangma sherpas to Shishapangma BC and eight of the Cho Oyu sherpas on to Cho Oyu BC, to start getting those camps set up. The sherpas’ route will take them over the 17,000+ foot Tsong La pass, which marks the beginning of the Tibetan Plateau (Nyalam is still on the south side of the crest).

Meanwhile, the Cho Oyu and Shishapangma team members, and a couple sherpas who are staying back with them, will do further acclimatization hiking tomorrow up the nearby ridges that overlook Nyalam. The plan for the team will be to go on to Tingri the following day. Because Tibet is so high, we want to make sure everyone is well acclimatized before going to the Base Camps.

—Eric Simonson, IMG Partner

Tibet Teams Head To Tingri

August 26, 2011


Cho Oyu rises behind Tingri. (Mike Hamill)

We’re about to hop in the vehicles here in Nyalam, and to head to Tingri. The teams are healthy and acclimatizing well. Yesterday we took a longer hike gaining a few thousand feet. The weather is clear and sunny; much better than this time last year, so hopefully it holds and the monsoons are coming to an end. We will spend two nights at Tingri (14000+ feet) before the teams split to their respective base camps. The Cho Oyu sherpa team, minus Mingma Dorjee and Dawa Nuru, went ahead to Tingri yesterday to check on the hotel situation there. Today they are heading to Cho Oyu base camp to start getting things set up. The Shishapangma Sherpas went directly to Shishapangma base camp yesterday to begin setting up that camp.

—Mike Hamill, Expedition Leader

Cho Oyu And Shishapangma Climbers Reach Base Camps

August 28, 2011

IMG Leaders Craig John, Mike Hamill, and Ang Jangbu report that after two nights in Tingri (14000+ feet) and a good day of acclimatization hiking yesterday to over 15000 feet, the two IMG teams have now officially split and headed for their Base Camps!

For Mike Hamill and the Shishapangma climbers, they backtracked a bit towards Nyalam before splitting off the Lhasa-Kathmandu road to drive further west with their jeeps and truck. For the Cho Oyu climbers, they drove due north from Tingri for less than an hour to their Base Camp site. Both the Base Camps are at about 15000 feet. Ang Jangbu reports that the Cho Oyu team has 30 yaks (and yak drivers) arriving to BC tomorrow, and that the next day they will all head for ABC with 3-4 sherpas to start working on that camp. For the Cho Oyu team members, their plan is to take three nights at BC (acclimatization hiking each day) before moving up to IC (Interim Camp) on the 31st and to ABC on September 1st. The Shishapangma team is on a similar schedule.

For both the Cho Oyu and Shishapangma teams, their ABC camps are well over 18000 feet, so it is important to be well acclimatized before moving up there.

So far so good!

—Eric Simonson, IMG Partner

Tibet Climbers On The Move!

August 31, 2011

IMG guide Max Bunce reports that today the Cho Oyu climbers moved up to Interim Camp (known as IC) which is on the moraine of the Gyabrag Glacier at about 17,000 feet. They are accompanied by the yaks, which are making a second roundtrip to ABC. Max says everyone is doing well and that they expect to make it to Advanced Base Camp tomorrow.

Over on Shishapangma, Mike Hamill reports that the team and their yaks made it all the way to Advanced Base Camp today (about 18,400 feet). Everyone is doing well and they will be taking several days at ABC getting organized, before moving higher.

So far everything seems to be going well with the teams and the weather has been OK, with clear mornings and snow in the afternoons, which is a pretty typical pattern. On both mountains, our IMG groups are ahead of the other climbers: We are the only team on Shishapangma right now, and on Cho Oyu there is only one other small team.

—Eric Simonson, IMG Partner

Cho Oyu Climbers At Advanced Base Camp

September 1, 2011

Ang Jangbu reports that everyone did very well pulling into ABC (about 18,500 feet). The main group left Interim Camp at 7AM and reached ABC at noon. We have 17 more yak loads down at BC which will come up by day after tomorrow. Jangbu also sent some photos which he took over the last few days.

—Eric Simonson, IMG Partner

It’s Puja Time

September 2, 2011

Cho Oyu towers above the ABC puja alter. (Ang Jangbu)

IMG leader Mike Hamill reports that the Shishapangma team is doing well up at Advanced Base Camp, with their final yak loads now having arrived. Today Mike, Kami, and Panuru took a reconaissance hike up a ways towards Camp 1, and everyone will be hiking and/or relaxing tomorrow. Over at Cho Oyu, Ang Jangbu reports that their final yak loads have also now arrived to ABC, and the Cho Oyu climbers are also doing acclimatization hiking and relaxing. Tomorrow they plan to go up to Lake Camp (below Camp 1) for a day hike.

Both teams are doing their puja ceremonies on October 4, an auspicious day on the Tibetan calendar. This is the traditional sherpa blessing ceremoney and the official start of the climbing. Both groups they plan to start working on carrying to Camp 1 starting on Monday. So far so good!

—Eric Simonson, IMG Partner

Cho Oyu & Shishapangma Team Establish C1

September 5, 2011

Team after Puja. (Ang Jangbu)

With their pujas behind them, it is time for the climbing to start! Mike Hamill on Shishapangma and Ang Jangbu on Cho Oyu report that both teams are on essentially the same schedules. Today the sherpas from each team made it up to their respective Camp 1 sites, and got those camps put in. Meanwhile, the climbers did some more acclimatization hiking and training, in preparation for moving up to Camp 1 in the next day or two. On Shishapangma the route to Camp 1 is simple snow travel on the lower part of the glacier. On Cho Oyu the climbers ascend a (normally) rocky slope leading up to the ridge crest. However, Jangbu reports that there is a lot of snow this year below Camp 1, and today the Cho Oyu sherpas fixed 150 meters of rope below the campsite.

—Eric Simonson, IMG Partner

Cho Oyu Camp 1 Established & Occupied

September 6, 2011

A number of the IMG climbers moved up to Camp 1 today for an overnight stay for acclimatization, and the other members will be moving up tomorrow or the next day. Ang Jangbu accompanied them and got some nice photos from Camp 1!

—Eric Simonson, IMG Partner

Shish’ Team @ Camp 1; Cho Oyu Team Having Cake

September 8, 2011

Cho Oyu– Members who spent night of the 6th came down to ABC safe and we celebrated Kumaran’s 27th birthday last night. Attached are couple of shots. Depending on weather, we plan to send the sherpa team to do a carry to camp 1 tomorrow.

Shishapangma– I talked to Mike Hamill on the sat phone last night, they were up at camp 1 spending the night. Mike said everyone on his team is doing well. They are headed back down to ABC today.

—Ang Jangbu

Updates From Tibet

September 10, 2011

Looking up from Camp 1. (Greg Vernovage)

Good reports from Tibet from IMG Guides Craig John and Mike Hamill overnight.

Hamill reports that the Shishapangma team is on their second of three rest days at Advanced Base Camp after their Camp 1 Rotation. The Sherpas are higer on the mountain working on the route to Camp 2. After a good rest they’ll make the move to C2.

Over on Cho Oyu Craig John reports that the team is finishing up their C1 rotation and will also make their move to C2 in a couple days.

All good things!

Tye Chapman

A Cho Oyu Update From Ang Jangbu

September 12, 2011

Morning shot of Cho Oyu from ABC.

Dear Eric,

All is well up here. Craig and his team: Steve, Caroline, Shawn, Kumaran, Patrick plus Walter x 3 and sherpas Danuru II, Mingma Tenzing and Mingma Dorje pulled into Camp 1 in good timing and they are all doing well. Five Sherpas carried to Camp 1 more oxygen, tents and some member personal gear: Danuru I (Dawa), Karma Tita, Phinjo Dorje, Ang Karma and Kancha Nuru.

The fixing team has started to fix above Camp 1 this afternoon. Their plan is fix high as they can towards Camp 2 tomorrow and drop back down to ABC.

Our team up at Camp 1 plans to climb high up by the Ice Cliff , on the way to Camp 2 and return to Camp 1. They might decide to spend the third night at Camp 1 before returning to ABC on the 15th.

We have 3 more sherpas: Karma Rita, Phinjo Dorje and Kancha carrying again tomorrow to camp 1. Dawa and Ang Karma will take a rest day tomorrow (they came down with Max’s team yesterday). Max and his team: Lisa, Markus and Dan plans to move up on the 15th.


Ang Jangbu Sherpa

Sherpas Carry To C2 On Cho Oyu

September 14, 2011

Cho Oyu Climbing Route

Ang Jangbu reports that 6 Sherpas (Ang Pasang, Danuru I (Dawa), Karma Rita, Ang Karma, Phinjo Dorje and Kancha Nuru) left ABC at 5 this morning to go to camp 2. Their plan is to carry to Camp 2 and then come back to Camp 1 for the night. Then, tomorrow, they will make another carry from 1 to 2 and drop down to ABC. Tomorrow Danuru II, Mingma Tenzing and Mingma Dorje will go up from ABC to join the rest of the Sherpa team, and a couple of them will wait at Camp 1 for Max and his team climbing up from ABC tomorrow. Craig and his team are at ABC now, enjoying a couple good rest days.

—Eric Simonson, IMG Partner

More Cho Oyu Climbers Heading To Camp 2

September 16, 2011

Yesterday the climbers did an oxygen clinic at ABC, practicing with the masks, regulators, and tanks. This morning Max and his team climbed back to Camp 1 in good time–under 5 hours. They are all doing well and are accompanied by Danuru II and Mingma Dorje. Today the rest of the Sherpas made a second carry from Camp 1 to Camp 2, put up some tents for Max’s team, and dropped back to ABC. The route to Camp 2 is in good shape. Walter and his team, along with one Sherpa, are headed to Camp 1 tomorrow on their Camp 2 rotation. The rest of the Sherpas are taking a rest day tomorrow.

—Ang Jangbu

Cho Oyu & Shishapangma Updates

September 17, 2011

Left to right: Makalu, Lhotse, Everest, Cho Oyu from the Pang La pass, Tibet. (Eric Simonson)

Max, Lisa, Markus, Dan and Danuru are sleeping at Camp 2. They will sleep in a bit in the morning and come back down to ABC tomorrow. Walter, Alois, Heidi and Ang Pasang are at Camp 1. Karma Rita will leave ABC early and meet Walter’s team and climb to Camp 2 tomorrow with them and AP will drop down to ABC.


Craig is climbing with Steve, Caroline, Shawn, Patrick and Kumar with Sherpas Danuru I (Dawa), Mingma Dorje and Kancha Nuru. Their plan is to move to Camp 1 tomorrow on their Camp 2 rotation. Mingma Tenzing, Ang Karma and Phinjo Dorje will take a rest day tomorrow here at ABC, and carry to Camp 2 the next day.

It has been snowing down here at ABC this afternoon but it remained clear above Camp 1. The Tibetan/Chinese team carried fixing gear to Camp 2 today and fixed an additional line on the ice cliff.

I talked via sat phone to Mike Hamill at Shishapangma ABC and they are all doing well. The IMG Sherpas are carrying to Camp 2 tomorrow and then Kami and 2 Sherpas from one of the other teams plan to fix to Camp 3 day after tomorrow.


—Ang Jangbu

Cho Oyu Climbers Feel Earthquake

September 18, 2011

Watching the climbers up on the mountain from Cho Oyu ABC (Eric Simonson)

Ang Jangbu reports that the climbers felt the earthquake today that hit northeastern India (centered in Sikkim). He says the ground shook for some time, and there were a few avalanches triggered on some of the various slopes around the area, but no ill effects for climbers on Cho Oyu.

Jangbu says that some of the sherpas have now checked with their families back in Kathmandu, and everything is ok there. For the climbers, everything continues on schedule, with Max’s team coming down from Camp 2 in good shape after their overnight. Walter’s team is at Camp 2 now, and Craig’s team will be going up to Camp 2 tomorrow.

—Eric Simonson, IMG Partner

Cho Oyu Climbers On The Move

September 19, 2011


Climbers above the Ice Cliff, on the way to Camp 2. (Ryan Dahlem taken through the telescope at ABC).

The snow stopped soon after the earthquake last night and its a beautiful morning here at Cho Oyu. Walter, Alois, Heidi and Karma Rita spent last night at Camp 2 and are now making good progress on their way down to ABC. Craig, Steve, Caroline, Shawn, Kumar and Patrick left Camp 1 at 6 this morning. They are already above the Ice Cliff and are making good progress to Camp 2 where they plan to spend the night. Mingma Tenzing, Ang Karma and Phinjo Dorje left ABC at 5:15 am to make a carry to Camp 2, and then they will return to ABC. The Tibetan fixing team is planning to open up the route and carry to Camp 3 on 9/21, and there is a Korean team who are in a rush and they are hoping to fix the Yellow Band and summit on 9/23. We’ll see how they do — our summit teams should be a few days behind them if all goes well.


—Ang Jangbu

Cho Oyu & Shishapangma Summit Bids Start

September 23, 2011

Caption: Satellite weather photo for September 23, 2011

(courtesy Gov of Nepal Meteorological Forecasting Division)


Ang Jangbu reports that the Korean team fixed above Camp 3 today and went on to reach the summit of Cho Oyu, so that is good news, the route is open to the top! Five IMG sherpas slept at Camp 1 last night and are carrying to Camp 3 today. Walter, Heidi, Alois and Karma Rita are moving to Camp 1 today and will be shooting for the summit on the 26th. The rest of the IMG Cho Oyu team will move to Camp 1 tomorrow and will shoot to summit on the 27th.

Mike Hamill, and the Shishapangma team, reports that they are also launching their summit bid, and are also shooting for the 26th. So, we’ll be watching the weather closely over the next few days. Our IMG weather forecaster Michael Fagin, of, reports that right now there is a strong low pressure to the south, down in India, that continues to pump some moisture (and snow) up into the Himalayas. However, this system is supposed to keep moving to the east over the next few days, and once it departs the area the weather looks to be improving (we hope!).

—Eric Simonson, IMG Partner

Cho Oyu & Shishapangma Climbers Back To ABC

September 25, 2011

Caption: Satellite weather photo for September 25, 2011

(courtesy Gov of Nepal Meteorological Forecasting Division)

The pesky low pressure that was supposed to move east has stalled just south of the Himalayas, causing more wind and snowfall. I spoke on the sat phone to both the Cho Oyu and Shishapangma teams, and both groups have pulled back down to ABC — after moving up to Camp 1. The wind and snowfall has continued and the conditions have deteriorated so we are back in a holding pattern, to see if the weather improves. Unfortunately, it sounds like as the monsoon moisture finally moves away, the jet stream will not be far behind!

—Eric Simonson, Img Partner

Snow Ends, Still Windy For Climbers

September 27, 2011

The storms have finally moved to the east and now the skies are clear. However, we still have some strong winds. (Courtesy Gov of Nepal Meteorological Forecasting Division)

I spoke to IMG guides Mike Hamill on Shishapangma and Max Bunce on Cho Oyu. The big snowstorm has ended, but it remains windy, so there is lots of snow getting scoured from the upper slopes. The team members are waiting to see if the conditions improve. Our forecast has the jet stream staying away for another week or so, so there may still be a window for climbers.

Some of the climbers (from both teams) headed back to Kathmandu today. They had commitments back home and could not wait longer. For the climbers who are remaining, we’ll be hoping the conditions stabilize soon.

—Eric Simonson, IMG Partner

Cho Oyu Climbers Headed Back Up

September 28, 2011

Ice pinnacles on the glacier above Adv. Base Camp, on the way to C1 (Ang Jangbu Sherpa)

Ang Jangbu reports that the weather is looking better now, with the jet stream remaining just to the north of the mountain. Hopefully the wind will die down some more over the next few days. IMG guide Max Bunce and the remaining team members headed back up to Camp 1 today. Their plan is to go to C2 tomorrow, C3 the next, and take a shot at the summit on October 1. We’ll keep you posted!

—Eric Simonson, IMG Partner

Tibet Climbers Moving Up

September 29, 2011

ABC after the storm (Ang Jangbu)

Ang Jangbu reports that the teams are moving up now on Cho Oyu and Shishapangma. On Cho Oyu, the IMG climbers moved up to Camp 2 today and so far everything is going well for them. On Shishapangma, the Sherpas went to Camp 1 today to get that camp dug out, and the members are moving up tomorrow, with a plan to reach the summit on October 4.

—Eric Simonson, IMG Partner

Cho Oyu Descending, Shishapangma Waiting

September 30, 2011

Packing up the yak loads. (Ang Jangbu Sherpa)

Ang Jangbu reports that a number of teams attempted to summit today on Cho Oyu, but they hit deep snow above the Yellow Band, and turned back. Max and the IMG climbers were at Camp 2 ready to go to Camp 3, but they have decided not to push their luck with the conditions, and turned back too, descending later today to ABC. They have yaks scheduled to arrive tomorrow, so they are preparing to head home. Mike Hamill and the Shishapangma climbers are at Camp 1, waiting to see if the conditions improve at all for them. We’ll keep you posted.

—Eric Simonson, IMG Partner

Back To Cho Oyu

October 8, 2011

The road from Base Camp to Interim Camp, with Cho Oyu in the background.

Mike Hamill called from Tingri to say that he, Al, and Vanessa were doing well and heading for Cho Oyu ABC today. They will drive by jeep to Interim Camp, and from there they have three yaks waiting to help move them up to ABC. When the Cho Oyu expedition departed last week, we had them leave behind IMG Sherpas Danuru, Karma Rita, and cook Kaji. Mike and his team will link up with the Sherpas, with the hope of a quick trip up Cho Oyu after their climb of Shishapangma. We’ll keep our fingers crossed that the weather holds for them.

—Eric Simonson, IMG Partner

Shishapangma Climbers Heading Back Up Cho Oyu

October 10, 2011

IMG leader Mike Hamill, along with Vanessa, Al, Danuru and Karma Rita, left for Camp 1 this morning. Their plan is to go to Camp 2 tomorrow and try for the summit on the 12th. We are watching the jet stream closely; right now it is holding just to the north of the Himalayas. If all goes according to plan, we have the yaks ordered for the 13th, which should get the team back to Kathmandu on the 15th.

—Eric Simonson, IMG Partner

Forecast for Friday 10-14 showing the jet stream (in meters/second) moving back over the Nepal Himalaya.

Shishapangma Team Grabs Cho Oyu Summit

October 12, 2011

Sunrise over Everest, from summit of Cho Oyu. (Danuru Sherpa)

Congrats to IMG Leader Mike Hamill, Vanessa, Al, Danuru, and Karma Rita for a successful Cho Oyu climb. They are the last team on the hill, literally, as all other expeditions have now departed the mountain. Mike said the climbers were super strong and acclimatized after previously climbing Shishapangma, and they decided to start from Camp 2, since the weather was looking good. In fact, Mike said the conditions were excellent, the best of any of his five Cho Oyu summits. They left Camp 2 at about 1am and reached the top a little before 8am, and were back to Camp 2 by 10am, which is a really fast time. After brewing up at Camp 2 and having a good rest, they continued their descent, and have now made it all the way down to ABC! On the way down the group managed to get all the Camp 2 gear down to Camp 1.

This afternoon the sherpas started dismantling the ABC Camp, with the big dining tent coming down and gear getting packed into yak loads. Mike and the climbers get a well-deserved rest and packing day tomorrow, and we have three Tibetan porters going back up to bring down the last loads from Camp 1 We also have 17 yaks that will be arriving at ABC tomorrow, and a jeep and truck ordered for the next day to meet the team at the trailhead.

—Eric Simonson, IMG Partner