2013 Cho Oyu Climb Updates Tibet  •  26,906'  •  8201m
Expedition Coverage

2013 Cho Oyu Expedition Coverage

Led by: Mike Hamill and Greg Vernovage
Expedition directed by: Eric Simonson

Cho Oyu Team Ready To Go

August 30, 2013

From: Ang Jangbu Sherpa
Sent: Friday, August 30, 2013

To: Eric Simonson
Subject: Cho Oyu Update


It’s all good news.

Everyone is here will all their bags. Hamill and Peter finished doing the gear check yesterday. We have collected base camp duffels from hotel this morning and sherpas have loaded the gear truck. 3 Sherpas: Chhewang Lendu, Nima Karma and Ang Karma left Kathmandu on the gear truck this afternoon. They should reach Kodari this evening.

We got the visa issued this afternoon. We will distribute passports to members at group dinner tonight. I will try to take a team photo tonight and tomorrow morning and send it off.

Group will depart early tomorrow for Kodari.

—Ang Jangbu


Cho Oyu Team Heading for Tibet

August 30, 2013

IMG 2013 Cho Oyu Team

Ang Jangbu reports that the IMG Cho Oyu team departed Kathmandu at 6am. They have about 4 hours of driving to Kodari, where they depart Nepal. Then, they walk across the Friendship Bridge (over the Bhote Kosi River) where they meet their CMA Chinese Liaison Officer, Li Chengxian. After clearing the Chinese immigration and transferring to Chinese vehicles, it’s time to head up the big hill to Zhangmu. Once they get checked into the hotel, it’s time for a big Chinese lunch in one of the local restaurants.

Zhangmu, Tibet

Then, this afternoon, they can walk it off around Zhangmu and get their first taste of altitude (about 7500 ft). So far so good!

—Eric Simonson, IMG Partner

Cho Oyu Team Reaches Nyalam

September 2, 2013

IMG leader Mike Hamill reports that the team moved up the steep winding road along the Bhote Kosi canyon from Zhangmu to Nyalam yesterday, reaching this key town (a little over 12,000 feet) on the way to Cho Oyu. Today they took an acclimatization hike, climbing the grassy hillsides above the town. Mike says that the team is doing well. A few small headaches but other than that, no sickness or issues.

Many of the IMG Sherpas and Mr. Li (the liaison officer) went ahead today to set up the base camp, while Nawang the interpreter and Mingma stayed back to spend another night with the team in Nyalam.

Tomorrow the plan is to move up higher, past Milarepa’s Cave (11th century Buddhist) and over the Tsong La Pass (over 17,000 ft) before dropping down to the famous old trading town of Tingri (a little over 14,000 ft).

—Eric Simonson, IMG Partner

Cho Oyu Climbers and Trekkers Reach Tingri

September 4, 2013

The ancient village of Tingri is at the north end of the trade route between Tibet and the Khumbu area of Nepal, and even today, long strings of yaks carry trading goods over the Nangpa La pass to the market in Namche. IMG leader Mike Hamill reports that the Sherpas are now up at Base Camp getting camp set up. The IMG climbers and trekkers reached Tingri yesterday from Nyalam, and took another nice acclimatization hike in the Tingri area.

Mike says “overall the weather was good and we had a brief view of Cho Oyu. The team is acclimatizing well with only a few slight headaches last night. Assuming everyone is feeling good tomorrow we will head in to base camp”.

—Eric Simonson, IMG Partner

Climbers And Trekkers Reach Cho Oyu Base Camp

September 5, 2013

The IMG Cho Oyu climbers and Tibet Trekkers have now reached Base Camp (about 15000 ft) after driving up the Ra Chu Valley from Tingri. Everyone is doing well and the team is excited to finally be getting close to their objective. Phunuru and the Sherpa team have been busy getting a nice camp established and packing up the yak loads for Advanced Base Camp. They have 30 yaks arriving later today and tomorrow. The yaks and yak drivers will start up with the first loads for ABC, accompanied by Mingma Tenzing and Chewang Lendu. The members will take another couple days of acclimatization hiking in the BC area, before they move up. Advanced Base Camp is well over 18,000 feet, so we want to make sure everyone is well acclimatized before moving up there.

So far, so good!

—Eric Simonson, IMG Partner

Cho Oyu Advanced Base Camp Established

September 6, 2013

IMG leader Mike Hamill reports that the weather was cold, clear, and windy today and that the team is doing well with only a few slight headaches. They had a good acclimatization hike today, climbing over 1000 feet to the west of BC and getting some great views of Cho Oyu and the surrounding area. We also had the good news that Chhewang and Mingma Tenzing made it up to ABC at 18,500 feet with 30 yaks (and the local yak herders). On this first trip up they moved a good quantity of tents, food, fuel, and gear to start getting ABC established. Then, the yaks and yak herders will head back down to Base Camp to make a second carry in the next few days. In the autumn season the yaks are stronger (since they have been grazing all summer) so they can carry 25 kg on each side, for 50 kg total per yak (in the spring season they are weaker from the winter and can only carry 40 kg per yak).

—Eric Simonson, IMG Partner


Cho Oyu Climbers Ready to Move Up

September 8, 2013

IMG guide Mike Hamill reports that all’s well at Base Camp, and the team is ready to move tomorrow to IC (Intermediate Camp) at about 17,000 ft, then on up to ABC (over 18,500 ft) the following day. No one is having issues with the altitude.

This morning the team took a short acclimatization hike, then spent the rest of the day getting packed up, playing cards, and watching movies. Tonight they celebrated the 50th birthday of Terry, one of the Tibet Trekkers… that will be a birthday party to remember!

—Eric Simonson, IMG Partner

Cho Oyu Climbers At ABC

September 10, 2013

Cho Oyu. (Ang Jangbu)

IMG guide Mike Hamill checked in this morning from Advanced Base Camp (over 18,500). The team had a great hike up to ABC. The team is doing well. They had great weather and got a few good looks at Cho Oyu. It is always a good feeling to pull into ABC. The team can get all their gear and move into their tents to stay a while.

A little rest and some good Kaji cooking is always nice! The team will have a Puja, rest and prepare for what is next. With good weather, they will have great motivation as Cho Oyu is now right in front of them. From ABC the team can see all of Cho Oyu as well as the Nangpa La, one of the oldest trade routes in the world. This trade route connects Tibet and Nepal and is well over 18,500 feet.

—Greg Vernovage, Expedition Leader

Beaut Of A Day On Cho Oyu

September 11, 2013

IMG Guide Mike Hamill checked in from ABC. This team is doing great! Everyone made it into ABC in good time and had a good night of sleep.

Mike said: “The weather is perfect and the view of Cho Oyu and the surrounding peaks couldn’t be more impressive. The team is just enjoying getting settled in, soaking up the sun, and taking in the view. Today is a rest day, tomorrow we will do a short hike above ABC, and the following day will be the Puja.”

I think the Jumping photo pretty much sums up their team spirit. I would say they should break out the net and ball but I think Mike’s plan is better. This team has some work to do but for now, they are enjoying some great weather on Cho Oyu!

—Greg Vernovage, Expedition Leader

Training Day At Cho Oyu

September 12, 2013

Mike Hamill reports: “Today the team rigged up for climbing on the upper mountain and reviewed techniques for fixed lines and the ice cliff. Then we took an acclimatization hike above base camp after lunch in snowy weather. There was 5 inches of new snow last night with blustery conditions and it’s snowing again this afternoon. The team is doing well and enjoying being settled in at ABC, our base for the next few weeks. The plan is to hold the Puja tomorrow morning (an auspicious day on the Tibetan calendar) followed by an another afternoon acclimatization hike.”

—Eric Simonson, IMG Partner

Puja Time!

September 13, 2013

Mike Hamill reports: “ We had an eventful day here at ABC! Despite persistent snowfall since we arrived, we had our Puja to bless the climb in the morning, and got in a great hike towards Lake Camp and C1 in the afternoon. Chuldim, a Tibetan Lama from a local village, led the Puja. The Sherpa said it was one of the best Pujas they had been a part of. After a hot lunch the team headed up the mountain in good weather and were able to reach just below Lake Camp before the weather turned and the blizzard resumed on the descent. Overall it was a great day and one the climbers will not soon forget. We plan to go for another short hike tomorrow as a team if the weather is good and the Sherpa plan to carry supplies to Camp 1. ABC is starting to fill up and the route to C1 is getting kicked in.”

—Eric Simonson, IMG Partner

Cho Oyu Climbers Moving up to Camp 1

September 14, 2013

The Cho Oyu team went for a short acclimatization hike today on the glacier above ABC and spent the afternoon relaxing, packing, and organizing for their first rotation to Camp 1 tomorrow. IMG guide Mike Hamill reports that their plan is to move tomorrow up to the Camp 1 at about 20,500 ft. They will spend a night there, then climb above C1 the following day up toward the ice cliff, before descending to spend another night at C1. Then they will descend to ABC the following day.

The Sherpas carried to C1 today and they report that there is some fresh snow below C1 but overall conditions are good. The Sherpas will carry to C1 again tomorrow.

—Eric Simonson, IMG Partner

Cho Oyu Climbers Reach C1; Trekkers Heading for Everest BC

September 15, 2013

Phunuru reports from ABC that Mike, Peter, Mingma Dorje, and the climbers and trekkers made it up to Camp 1 today at about 20,500 feet. The weather was good, and they are all set to start the climbing tomorrow. The trekkers returned back down to ABC with Phunuru. Tomorrow Phunuru will hike with them down to Intermediate Camp, for the handoff to Nawang (from CMA) and their jeep driver who will take them down to Tingri tomorrow night. Then, the next day, they head for Rongbuk (Everest Base Camp).

Later this afternoon Phunuru joined a fixing meeting at ABC with the different teams. He reports that there are currently 12 different teams at ABC, and together they have contributed a total of 2,800 meters of rope and enough pickets, screws and pitons to fix the route above Camp 1. Also, some of the teams (IMG, AAI, AC, Kobler, Amical, and also the Chinese team) have also agreed to contribute sherpas to move up to Camp 1 tomorrow and start working on the rope fixing. So, it is great to hear that these teams are working well together to get the work route work done.

—Eric Simonson, IMG Partner

Cho Oyu Update

September 16, 2013

Ang Jangbu reports from Kathmandu: “I talked to Phunuru this evening (Nepal time). Mike and team went up towards the ice cliff on practice/acclimatization run and everyone did well. The fixing sherpas fixed the ice cliff with two lines. Sherpas going up tomorrow will finish fixing to camp 2. Sounds like from IMG team we had Mingma Tenzing go for fixing today and Karma Rita will go tomorrow. Rest of the sherpas are carrying to camp 1 tomorrow. Phunuru said Mike reported it was windy night last night at camp 1. Trekkers are in Tingri this evening. We will talk to Nawang tomorrow and get an update on their trip up to Rongbuk.&rdquo

Ang Jangbu Sherpa

Cho Oyu Climbers Back At ABC; Trekkers To Rongbuk

September 17, 2013

Ang Jangbu reports that the Tibet Trekkers moved today up from Tingri to Rongbuk monastery…in the footsteps of George Mallory and the old British climbers. They are staying tonight at a small hotel near the monastery and tomorrow they take a hike up above the Base Camp. The weather is pretty good and they had nice views of the North Face.

Meanwhile, back on Cho Oyu, Mike Hamill reports that the IMG climbers and sherpas are all back at ABC after climbing up to the Ice Cliff. Their plan is to take a couple rest days now, before heading back up on the Camp 2 rotation.

—Eric Simonson, IMG Partner

Tibet Trekkers Reach Shegar

September 19, 2013

After some nice hiking up at Rongbuk Base Camp, the Tibet Trekkers have now reached Shegar (Xegar). This is the famous old Tibetan town with the old Dzong (fort) on the hill above. The British expeditions of the 1920’s and 30’s came through this town on their way from Kalimpong (India) as they trekked around from the north to get to Everest. Next stop tomorrow for the trek team is Shigatse (Xigaze).

—Eric Simonson, IMG Partner

Let’s Talk Oxygen

September 20, 2013

Mike Hamill reports that the Cho Oyu climbers did an oxygen clinic this morning and got packed up this afternoon for their next rotation up the hill. During their rest days there has been a bit of snowfall at ABC, but not much has fallen up higher. Today the Sherpas finished fixing into Camp 2 and they report good snow conditions. If the weather is good tomorrow the team will head to Camp 1 tomorrow and Camp 2 the following day.

—Eric Simonson, IMG Partner

Cho Oyu Climbers Moving Up

September 21, 2013

Cho Oyu Team in ABC

IMG guide Mike Hamill reports that it is clear and sunny this morning at ABC and the team is all set for the Camp 2 rotation. Weather forecast is good for the next few days. They are heading for Camp 1 today and then up to Camp 2 tomorrow, where they hope to spend a night up there (at over 7100 meters / 23,300 feet). 23K will be a new highpoint for most of the team members, and sleeping up at that altitude requires a good foundation of acclimatization. The team has now been in Tibet for three weeks, and their acclimatization response should really be kicking in now. A good Camp 2 rotation now will set them up well for the summit bids.

—Eric Simonson, IMG Partner

Cho Oyu Trekkers in Shigatse

September 21, 2013

Tashilhunpo Monastery

The Tibet Trek team travelled east today across Tibet to Shigatse, home of the famous Tashilhunpo Monastery as well as Tibet’s second most populated city (about 46,000 compared to 172,000 in Lhasa). This section of the Kathmandu-Lhasa road feels pretty remote, crossing several high passes. It’s some wild country and has always reminded me of driving across Nevada!

—Eric Simonson, IMG Partner

Tibet Trekkers Reach Lhasa

September 22, 2013

The IMG trekkers reached Lhasa yesterday, as they near the end of their 23 day program. Unlike people who fly into Lhasa at the beginning of their trip, then fight the altitude sickness for the first few days, our team will be strong and acclimatized, so they can get out and really enjoy their visit. They have three nights in a nice hotel, so that means some good showers and food, and two full days for sightseeing.

On the agenda is the Potela Palace, Johkang Temple, Barkhor market area and other places. Their flight back to Kathmandu will be early morning on the 24th from the Lhasa Gonggar Airport.

—Eric Simonson, IMG Partner

Cho Oyu Climbers Reach Camp 2

September 23, 2013

Camp 2 at about 23000 feet on Cho Oyu (Greg Vernovage)

Mike Hamill reports that the weather and route conditions were very good yesterday and the team had a nice climb up to Camp 2, where they spent the night. Then, today, they are dropping back down to Camp 1 for another night. This will make for a good acclimatization foundation for the summit bids.

—Eric Simonson, IMG Partner

Cho Oyu Climbers Back To ABC

September 24, 2013


Cho Oyu from Advanced Base Camp (Ang Jangbu Sherpa)

IMG leaders Mike Hamill, Peter Anderson, and Phunuru Sherpa report that everyone is now back down to Advanced Base Camp after the Camp 2 rotation. They had good weather for their trip up high, but unfortunately we now have snow in the weather forecast for the next few days. That will coincide with the planned rest days of the team, so if it is going to snow, now is a good time. Meanwhile, the team will have chance to do some serious eating and resting, in preparation for the summit bids.

—Eric Simonson, IMG Partner

Cho Oyu Climbers Doing Well At ABC

September 25, 2013

Mike Hamill reports that “with the C2 rotation complete, the team is enjoying a few days of R+R at ABC doing laundry, taking hot showers, and eating great food. Yesterday we had burgers, fries, and salad for lunch with warm cinnamon rolls for desert. Thanks Kaji! The team is doing really well. Over the next few days we’ll pack for the summit rotation, review the oxygen system and make sure the team is ready to roll. Attached are a few photos from the C2 rotation”.

The weather forecast is still a bit “iffy”. While the big picture remains good with the jet stream well to the north, and no major storms lurking in the Bay of Bengal, there remains a weak southerly flow with some of the models showing more moisture coming in over the next few days.

—Eric Simonson, IMG Partner

Cho Oyu Climbers Ready for the Summit Push

September 27, 2013

Climbing Route and Camps

IMG leader Mike Hamill reports: “The team is rested and getting ready for their summit rotation. Today we reviewed the oxygen system again, had a summit meeting to discuss the summit push, and packed food for the next few days on the mountain. We had half an inch of snow last night but the weather has been clear and sunny today with a slight breeze from the North. Our plan is to head up tomorrow the 28th to Camp 1 with October 1 as a tentative summit day, depending on the weather.”

—Eric Simonson, IMG Partner

Cho Oyu Climbers Heading for Camp 2

September 28, 2013

Weather Map for Sept 28th

We talked to Kaji this morning, who is holding down the fort at ABC. Mike, Peter and their team are doing well and they left Camp 1 for Camp 2 this morning. Weather continues to be good. The Sherpas carried to Camp 2 yesterday and they got set up 5 tents. Phunuru, Ang Karma and Mingma Dorje stayed at Camp 1 last night with the members. Nima Karma, Mingma Tenzing and Chhewang dropped down to ABC yesterday afternoon and went back up this morning to go to Camp 2. Ang Karma and Phunuru are climbing with members today to Camp 2 and the other Sherpas are going ahead to set up more tents. We are keeping a close eye on the weather. There is still some moisture in the vicinity, but it is supposed to keep moving to the north and east.

—Eric Simonson, IMG Partner

Cho Oyu Climbers Reach Camp 3

September 30, 2013

Ang Jangbu reports that yesterday Chewang Lendu, Nima Karma, Mingma Tenzing and Ang Karma made it up to Camp 3 to dig out platforms and get the high camp set up at about 24,500 feet. Then, today, the climbers moved up from Camp 2 to Camp 3, where they are currently resting, brewing, and getting ready for a big day tomorrow! They will also be getting plugged in to their oxygen up at C3, which will help get some decent “rest” up there.

The plan for tomorrow is to start climbing in the wee hours of the morning and try to be on the summit early in the morning. Some high clouds today but the weather seems to be holding and the most recent satellite photo shows that most of the moisture has moved out of the area. We’ll keep our fingers crossed!

—Eric Simonson, IMG Partner

Cho Oyu Summits!

September 30, 2013

Ang Jangbu reports: “Just talked to Kaji at Base Camp. The team reached the summit early this morning and are now descending through the Yellow Band on their way down. They will regroup at Camp 3, and Mike and Peter will continue down with members while the Sherpas take down Camp 3 and carry it down. Everyone plans to come down to Camp 1 tonight.

The Sherpas will stay at Camp 1 tonight also and go back and bring down Camp 2 tomorrow while the climbers head down to ABC.”

—Eric Simonson, IMG Partner

Cho Oyu Team Back To C1

October 1, 2013

From: Ang Jangbu Sherpa
Sent: Tuesday, October 01, 2013

5:36 AM
To: Eric Simonson
Subject: Re: Cho Oyu update Summit!!!

Dear Eric,

Yaks on way to ABC (Ang Jangbu)

Just got off the phone with Phunuru. All members are safely back down at Camp 1. They have finished dinner and everyone in tents. Sherpas managed to clear Camp 3 & 2 and all dropped all the way to ABC. They arrived ABC awhile ago. Members will come down in time for lunch and Sherpas are taking a rest day tomorrow. They will go to Camp 1 day after to bring everything down. Pack on 4th. Yaks arrive same day. They will leave early on 5th and come all the way to Zhangmu. Kathmandu on 6th.

—Ang Jangbu

Cho Oyu Team Going To Kathmandu

October 4, 2013

The team is safely back to ABC enjoying the comforts of base camp after a safe and successful summit rotation. Here are some photos. We snuck in the summit just in time: it has been dumping snow since we returned, winds have increased, a lenticular cloud has blanketed the mountain, and some teams heading for the summit have turned back due to lots of snow. Today and tomorrow are rest/packing days then on the 5th the team heads to Nyalam for a night, then on to Kathmandu on the 6th. The Sherpa finished clearing the mountain today and are packing up ABC.

—Mike Hamill, Expedition Leader

Cho Oyu Expedition Is A Wrap

October 9, 2013

I am super happy to report that our Cho Oyu team have all made it back to Kathmandu and that the trip has now come to an end. These are long hard trips and it was great to see all the work pay off for the team. We have now done Cho Oyu 24 times (22 successful) and put 207 climbers on the summit. The 14 successful climbers from this 2013 trip included 2 guides, 7 clients, 5 sherpas. We also had 1 climber and 1 sherpa turn from the plateau, just below the summit (they were going too slow, so the guides turned them).

Before departing Kathmandu the team had the chance to get together for a team dinner at the Rum Doodle restaurant. Also, they enjoyed a guest appearance by famous Himalayan historian Liz Hawley. Liz is coming up on her 90th birthday. Great to see you again, Liz!

Thanks for following along with the Cho Oyu blog this year. The first time I went to Cho Oyu was in 1995, with a team of climbers and guides that I organized. At this time we were one of the first commercial teams to try Cho Oyu. If I recall, when we started the trip there had been only 9 Americans climb Cho Oyu, and when we went home there were 13 more. Over the years Cho Oyu has been a great trip for us, but it is never a lay-up. We have a lot of respect for this climb, and every year it is a big challenge.

—Eric Simonson, IMG Partner