Expedition Cho Oyu
From Lhasa to the „Turquoise Goddess “
Our itinerary with approach via Lhasa and return journey via Kathmandu is perfect for our acclimatisation and offers many cultural highlights.
Base camp is located below the Nangpa La, one of the big, old trading passes of the Himalaya.
One high-altitude Sherpa per two members guarantees excellent support on the mountain.
Good to know that Kobler & Partner have organised more than a dozen successful expeditions on Cho Oyu.
Cho Oyu - or Qowowuyag in Tibetan - means “Turquoise Goddess”. It is the westernmost major peak of the Khumbu sub-section of the Mahalangut Himalaya, 20 km west of Mount Everest. The mountain is right on the border between Tibet and Nepal.
Cho Oyu’s ridges toward the south, east and north are very steep while the gradient of its western and north-western flank is less so. Herbert Tichy, who was born in Vienna in 1912, was a professional journalist and author, and he knew Asia like no other European. When his companion Pasang Dawa Lama told him that he knew of a gigantic “climbable” mountain, Tichy was mesmerised. To this very day, Herbert Tichy’s first ascent in 1954 is an impressive achievement. What’s also remarkable about this expedition is the fact that the three members - Tichy, Jöchler and Heuberger – as well as the six Sherpas only ate food that was cultivated in Tibet.
Day 1 - Day 2: Flight to Chongqing
Scheduled flight to Chongqing or, if available, to Chengdu
We arrive in Chongqing in the early morning hours. With a population of approx. 19 million each, Chongqing and Chengdu are two of China’s largest cities and important centres in west and southwest China. Hotel accommodation.
Day 3: Chongqing - Lhasa (3,600 m)
Short domestic flight to Lhasa and arrival at Gonggar airport. After about one hour’s drive to Lhasa, we check into a comfortable hotel and take some time to relax.
It is incredibly important to take it easy at the beginning of an expedition - after all, we have to give our bodies time to acclimatise to the higher altitudes. Hotel accommodation.
Day 4: Lhasa (3,600 m)
We have plenty of time to properly explore this legendary city which lies in the valley of the Kyi Chu, a tributary of the Tsangpo river (Brahmaputra). The city lies on the river and extends for about 10 km towards the west. The history of Lhasa, which means the “Land of Gods” goes back to the seventh century. During that time, the Jokhang temple, which is still the religious centre of the city’s historic centre where many Tibetans gather, and the first Potala Palace were built. During the 15th century, the Buddhist Gelug school had three monasteries built in the area around Lhasa. During the 17th century, the Potala Palace was rebuilt on the “Red Hill” under the supervision of Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso, the fifth Dalai Lama. The Jokhang temple was also extended during this time. Hotel accommodation.
Day 5: Lhasa - Gyantse (3,950 m)
Today’s drive takes us over two passes, the Kampala La (4,990 m) and Karo La (5,010 m), which has the beneficial ‘side effect’ of contributing to our acclimatisation. The Kampala La offers a wonderful view of the turquoise lakes of Yamdrok Tso and Ninchin Kangsa. From the Karo La, we drive down to the town of Gyantse (3,950 m). Hotel accommodation.
Day 6: Gyantse - Xigatse (3,977 m)
Our journey takes us to Xigatse, the second most important city in Tibet. We visit the Thashilumpo Temple as well as the residence of the Panchen Lama, one of the most important authorities of Tibetan Buddhism. Originally, the Panchen Lama resided in the Samzhuzê fortress, which was built in 1363 and is now the oldest building in Xigatse. The fortress was destroyed in 1950. After its reconstruction, it was converted into a museum for the antique culture of the city. The Zhaxilhünbo monastery, the most important monastery of the Gelug Tradition in western Tibet, has been the residence of the Panchen Lamas since 1446.
With a population of 60,000, the administrative region of Xigatse in the Tibet Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China has a surface area of 3,859 km2. Xigatse lies at an altitude of 3,977 m above sea level on the “Friendship Highway”, which links Kathmandu in Nepal with Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. Hotel accommodation.
Day 7: Xigatse (3,977 m) - Xegar (4,300 m)
Another day’s drive through the incredibly varied landscape of Tibet, which changes from lush agricultural land to desert. We cross the 5,520m high Lhakpa La from where we get our first amazing view of Everest. We arrive in Xegar in the afternoon. Simple hotel accommodation.
Day 8: Xegar (4,300 m) - Cho Oyu Base Camp (5,200 m)
We follow the road connecting Lhasa with Kathmandu which was built in 2007. Just after the village of Tingri, we turn south to reach Chinese Base Camp which is about one day’s walk from Advanced Base Camp (ABC). Tent accommodation.
Day 9: Acclimatisation Day at Chinese Base Camp (5,200 m)
We use this day to allow our bodies to acclimatise a bit more. Depending on how you feel, you can either stay at base camp or join us for a little excursion around base camp. Today, we will also organise the yaks and may even get the chance to have some tea in the tents of the local inhabitants. Tent accommodation
Day 10: Chinese Base Camp - Intermediate Camp (approximately 5,400 m)
Keeping our acclimatisation in mind, we continue to move slowly. For this reason, we add a stop to our march to ABC, which is the actual starting point for our expedition. The views from here are simply breathtakingly beautiful.
Day 11: Intermediate Camp - Advanced Base Camp (ABC, 5,650 m)
As we have taken it slowly, the last stage to ABC should not be a problem at all.
Day 11 - Day 39: Ascent of Cho Oyu (8,201 m)
Now, we have more than enough time to climb Cho Oyu. During our acclimatisation period, we have to establish and maintain three high camps with the help of the Sherpas.
We follow the route Herbert Tichy took in 1954. At first, we traverse the Gyabrag Glacier before we tackle the notorious “killer slope”, which owes its name to the loose scree that covers the slope. Once we have negotiated this arduous section, we reach Camp I. From here, the ridge leads to an 80-metre-high very steep slope. The following plateau at about 6,600m takes us to a ridge with a gradient of about 30°-40° degrees. After climbing up this ridge, we establish Camp II on the glacier plateau at 6,950m. Just below the northern precipices, we cross a large continuously ascending ridge.
We reach a plateau where we establish our Camp III (7,350m), from where we have a good view of our destination - the summit of Cho Oyu which lies 850 metres above us. In order to get there, we first have to climb over the yellow rock band, cross a snow slope and step over a few short rocky steps.
Wherever necessary, the route will be secured with fixed ropes. Camp I is established at about 6,300 m, Camp II at about 6,950 m and Camp III at about 7,350 m (location and number of camps are adapted according to the circumstances on site).
Please note: An ascent of an 8,000m peak requires you to climb up to the high camps several times as this is an important part of your acclimatisation. If we don’t reach the summit during the first attempt, we have enough time to give it another go should conditions and weather allow. We spend the night in tents.
Day 40 - Day 41: Advanced Base Camp - Base Camp - Kathmandu
Our drive takes us via the Kirong La. After the devastating earthquake in Nepal in April 2015, the Tibetan - Nepalese border crossing was moved from Zhangmu to a place farther west. After having crossed this new border, we drive past Dunche and Trisuli to Kathmandu. The old border crossing at Zhangmu/Kodari is likely to be closed until 2020, and properly beyond.
Day 42: Kathmandu
This day is at your own disposal. We recommend the following optional sights to visit:
In the early morning, we recommend a visit of Swayambunath, or Monkey Temple, where the local inhabitants start their day with prayers. From here you can start your day with an amazing view of the Kathmandu valley. The local Stupa is one of the most important sanctuaries of the Nevarian Buddhists and is located on a very scenic hill above the Kathmandu valley. 365 steep pilgrim steps lead from the foot of the “Monkey Temple” to the gilded Stupa. At lunchtime, drive to the royal city Patan, which is considered to be the cradle of art and the centre of Nevarian architecture. The most important buildings cluster around Mangal Durbar, the city centre whose heart consists of the splendid Royal Palace. In the evening, we meet up for the farewell dinner. Hotel accommodation
Day 43: Flight Kathmandu - Back Home
Depending on the flight schedule, we usually have time to visit the centre of Kathmandu and go to the markets and temples. Those who have acquired some facial hair during the expedition should not miss the opportunity to visit a traditional Nepali barber shop. The trim often comes with a massage and should not be missed!
Day 44: Arrival Back Home
The Profilcheck is a fixed part of the detailed travel programme. Please read it thoroughly and assess your skill and physical condition. Due to the score required for this expedition, your score will indicate whether or not your skills, fitness and mountaineering experience are sufficient to join this expedition. Your registration is a testimony of your physical and technical abilities to participate in this expedition.
Please take note of the following points concerning procedure of this expedition:
The expedition is demanding and exhausting.The high altitude alone entails several risks.
The members have to be able to move securely and independently through very rough terrain (snow, ice, rock, etc.). You have to independently rope up with a group. Active participation on the mountain, camaraderie and tolerance are an essential part of this expedition and we count on you to be able to provide this.
You have to be able to recognise your own limits on the mountain and be prepared to, if necessary, abandon the attempt and turn back. You join this expedition at your own responsibility.
The leader of the expedition is responsible for the management of the entire group, and personal support is not one of his/her responsibilities. Nevertheless, every member has to prepared to follow the decisions made by the leader. The decisions are always made in the group’s interest.
Depending on the circumstances and conditions on the mountain, improvisations and changes to the itinerary might be necessary.
Kobler & Partner do not take any liability for accidents, damages or loss of equipment.
Organisation of the entire expedition
All transfers, bus and jeep rides
Pre-expedition briefing at Bächli Bergsport, including a 10% voucher for equipment purchase
Tibet visa (will be obtained in China; the visa for China has to be organised ahead of time in your home country; the fee for the Chinese visa is not included in the expedition price)
Visa support China
Admission fees for all important sights in Lhasa (Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple and Sera Monastery
Full board during the entire trip
Non-alcoholic drinks from/to base camp
Number of hotel nights in double rooms (look at the travel programme)
Luggage transport to the Base Camp and back (pack animals, porters)
Entire Base Camp equipment (good group tent, toilet tent, shower tent ...)
1 tent per member at base camp and ABC
1 tent per 2 members during the approach and at high camps
Foam mat at base camp
Fixed ropes, climbing ropes, snow stakes, ice screws
High altitude stove (gas) and cookware
Communication (radio) at base camp (12 volts)
Radios: 1 radio (9 volts) per 2 members
Satellite phone, exclusive call charges
Internet and email at base camp (exclusive fees)
Daily weather forecast from Meteotest Switzerland
Solar system for lighting in mess tent
Electricity at BC and ABC for charging electronic devices (only limited availability!)
Rescue sledge for emergencies
Medicinal oxygen for emergencies
Large medical kit at base camp with pulse oximeter
Medical kits at the high camps
Medical kit for summit attempt
Kitchen: chef and kitchen boys
1 Sherpa per 2 members, including insurances, rations, salary and good equipment provided by Kobler & Partner
Costs for the obligatory liaison officer
Costs for local tour guide in Kathmandu
Nationally certified experienced expedition mountain guide
International flights to Lhasa, from Kathmandu
Alcoholic beverages and all beverages during the outward- and the return journey
Visa fee for China and Nepal
In case no roommate can be found for a booked double room, we charge half of the single room surcharge (see Additional Costs)
Surcharges that may arise due to changes being made to the planned travel programme
With more than 100 successful ascents, Kobler & Partner has extensive experience in using bottled oxygen on Everest, and we would like to share this knowledge with you. The use of supplemental oxygen significantly reduces the risk of frostbite, loss of concentration as well as poor performance, however, it increases your chances of reaching the summit in good time.
For this reason, we recommend to ascend an 8,000m peak with supplemental oxygen. The use of bottled oxygen stays optional and the required amount varies heavily from individual to individual, which is why the price for oxygen bottles is not included in the expedition price.
Tested and filled oxygen bottles have to be bought before the start of the expedition, which requires our members to pay for their oxygen in advance. The rental costs (see Additional Costs) include one bottle of O2, including mask, regulator, transport to the high camps and, of course, the transport back.
In case the rented equipment is damaged, the repair costs have to be covered by the member in question. In case the rented oxygen systems are not used, the costs cannot be refunded.
During this trip, you have the option to hire a personal porter. This individual support makes your climb much easier. A personal porter carries your personal equipment (approximately 10 kg) to the high camps and accompanies you to the summit. This additional support increases your chances to reach the summit and adds to the safety of the entire group.
1 porter per 2 members.
This expedition is usually a success. The technical difficulties on Cho Oyu can be managed by most aspirants. However, Cho Oyu is an 8,000m-peak after all, and its height must not be underestimated.
Even though it adds extra costs, the approach route via Chengdu or Chongquing - Lhasa has three major advantages:
- the chance to learn more about Tibetan culture
- a slower and better acclimatisation
- hygienic food in the hotels during the approach to the mountain
The high peaks of the Himalayas are influenced by the climate of the Tibetan plateau. During the pre-monsoon period, humid and warm air comes from the Indian subcontinent. This causes fog and precipitation at high altitudes. Depending on the intensity of the humidity, this weather phenomenon reaches all the way to Tibet. After the monsoon, autumn usually see more stable weather with lower temperatures.
For this reason, it is hard to say whether Cho Oyu is more of a spring or an autumn mountain. The question of whether you should go during spring or autumn is a personal one to be answered.
Our crew consists of Nepali Sherpas and a Nepali kitchen team. With a lot of effort, Kobler & Partner have established an excellent Sherpa crew over the years. In order to optimise the communication between the locals and our members, our Sherpas are required to take an English language course during the winter months. The preparation and recruitment of the local crew is usually done in autumn in the year before the respective expedition.
Hotel and tent accommodation are indicated in the itinerary. Additional hotel stays not indicated in the itinerary are not included in the expedition price.
International flights are not included in the expedition price. Over the years, Kobler & Partner has built up a very good reputation that goes beyond Swiss borders and has attracted people from all corners of the world. For this reason, it’s best for everyone to arrange their own flights. On demand, however, we can look after your travel arrangements.
Kobler & Partner will organise the visa for China for Swiss nationals and residents and will bill them separately. Members who do not live in Switzerland have to organise the visa for China themselves before the beginning of the trip. All necessary documents will be sent to you in due time.
The special visa for Tibet is organised by Kobler & Partner ahead of time and is included in the expedition price. All necessary documents are sent to you in due time before the departure. Your passport has to be valid until at least 6 months after your return date, and we require important documents (medical certificate, coloured copy of the passport, etc.) at least 60 days before departure.
The visa for Nepal can be obtained upon entering the country. It is not included in the expedition price. The price amounts to around 25 USD per person.
Gearlist Expedition Cho Oyu
2 duffle bags, 110l (water-proof, available from K&P at a discount for members)
Down jacket or down suit for expeditions
Primaloft jacket or light down jacket
Midlayer (fleece sweater or jacket)
Trekking pants, light and long
Softshell pants for mountaineering
Expedition down pants or down suit
Baselayers / T-shirts
Long-sleeved thermal top
Insolated shell gloves
Expedition down mittens
Liner gloves, thin, silk or fleece
Camp boots (non-technical winter boots or trainers)
High-altitude all in-one boots for 8000m
Heavyweight socks, thick and warm
30°C down sleeping bag for base camp (available for rent from K&P)
-40°C down sleeping bag for high camps
Insulated inflatable sleeping pad
Down booties (nice to have!)
Pillow case (stuffed with your down jacket, it makes a nice pillow!)
Headgear, face and eye protection
Glacier goggles (with nose guard, if possible)
Ski goggles, high UV-protection (also protects from the wind)
Balaclava or face mask (wind-stopper or neoprene)
Sunscreen, SPF 50
Lipscreen, SPF 50
Backpack approximately 60 l
Raincover for backpack
Climbing harness, light
Ice axe, light
Crampons with anti-balling plates (customised to fit expedition boots)
2 Carabiners (light, wiregate)
3 HMS carabiners (light, screwgate)
Belay device (figure 8 recommended)
Cord, 5m, 7 mm (for the Jumar system)
Cord, 5m, 5 mm
Sling 120 cm / Dyneema
1 Ice screw (19 cm)
Compression bags for down equipment
Food utensils, light, for high camps (bowl including cutlery)
Water bottle with large opening (Nalgene)
Pee bottle / Plastic bags
Headlamp (including spare batteries) and a small spare headlamp
Pocket knife or multi-tool/Leatherman
Hand and toe warmers
Departure letter from K&P (contains the final information)
Cash for personal use and tips
Credit card (MasterCard or Visa)
2 Passport photographs
Small personal first-aid kit (personal medication / compeed)
Microfibre travel towel
Hand sanitizer (50 ml)
Tissues, wet wipes
Your K&P mountain guide will provide well-stocked medical kits for base and high camps, radios, GPS, travel books and maps.
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