- Climb the 6th highest peak in the world
- Staggering views of Everest, Lhotse and Ama Dablam
- See the famous Nangpa-La pass
- Work closely with your expedition and Sherpa team to establish camps on the mountain
- Learn the conduct of an 8,000m peak
- Gain skills in climbing techniques and glacier travel
- Get to know your expedition team and head Sherpa on our training courses
- Full 3 stage pre-expedition training programme included
Cho Oyu is the 6th highest peak in the world (8,201 meters), located on the border of Tibet and Nepal, 30 miles west of Everest. It is part of the Greater Himalaya, where the central Asia plateau meets the Indian subcontinent.
While the challenge of high altitude climbing cannot be underestimated, Cho-Oyu has a reputation as one of the easier 8000m peaks. The comparative ease of access, lack of objective dangers and generally uncomplicated terrain mean that Cho-Oyu will be the perfect introduction to high-altitude Himalayan climbing, and a highly rewarding experience, whether as your one-and-only 8,000m peak, or your first step towards Everest. The route above base camp consist mainly of low-angled snow slopes with one short but very steep section to bypass a serac barrier at 6,400m. You use three camps on the mountain, located at 6,400m, 7,000m, and the highest camp at 7,400m.
What we offer
Even though the ascent to the summit plateau is short and direct, the climb is a serious undertaking and requires careful preparation and a high level of fitness. We offer you a fully guided ascent, led by UK guides and a strong Sherpa team, who assist with load carrying and camp preparation. Next to full support on the mountain, including a comfortable base camp and best equipment and tents, we also provide a full training plan to prepare you for your expedition. Our itinerary has extra days built in for two summit attempts and slow acclimatisation. To aid acclimatisation, we move up and down the mountain three to four times while establishing camps. Supplemental oxygen is used for the summit attempt.
Fitness requirements and experience
All climbers are required to have past high altitude mountaineering experience of 4,000-6,000m. Climbers who have been successful on Elbrus, Aconcagua or comparable peaks are typically prepared to join a guided ascent on Cho-Oyu. In addition, members should be able to ascend and descend fixed lines independently and be proficient with crampon techniques on steep ice/snow slopes. For an increased chance of success, and in the best interest of personal safety and team compatibility, adequate training and excellent physical condition are required. Our training programme will help you gain any additional training or experience needed. You will learn different skills including retrieving anchors, abseiling, glacier rescue and avalanche awareness, and gain knowledge of altitude sickness, frostbite and the recognition of their symptoms, prevention and treatment.
Prior to joining our expedition, please see your doctor and obtain the necessary permission and advice, as well as medications for travel in high altitude and exotic locations.
If you’re in doubt about whether this trip is suitable for you, contact us. We are here to help if you have any questions or concerns.
Operating on the Mountain
Our Expedition is run as a small group, and the plan and aim is to summit together as a team. We will be working as tent teams in pairs, helping each other kit-wise and giving psychological support. Upon arrival in base camp, the group will get a detailed introduction to how the expedition will be operated. There will be plenty of time for discussion and questions.
Rest days, Acclimatisation and Training
A combination of rest days, acclimatisation days and training whilst on the mountain will ensure that you are physically and mentally on best form to operate effectively in high altitude conditions, and finally attempt the summit push. During your rest days we encourage you to concentrate on recovering, eating and drinking, to relax, listen to music and stroll around visiting other teams.
From our base camps along the mountain, we select suitable spots for training, where you familiarise yourself with and revise the techniques that you’ll need to use higher on the mountain. Skills development is an essential part of our programme, starting as early as possible before your expedition.
On our training days before and during the expedition, you will practice a long list of skills in different areas:
• Climbing techniques: Ascending and descending on fixed lines, Abseils,
Belaying, Rope fixing, Glacier travel
• Safety techniques
• Medical equipment and procedures
• Oxygen systems
• Communications equipment
• Camping techniques and high-altitude cooking
We also encourage you to try on your oxygen mask and get used to wearing it in combination with your goggles. Team leaders are constantly assessing the conditions on the mountain to ensure a safe ascent, and you will have the opportunity to learn about winter hazards and weather formation yourself.
Acclimatisation will be achieved by ‘climbing high and sleeping low’, until everyone feels suitably adjusted to make the next move up to a higher camp. Finally, each climber will go back down to base camp for a prolonged rest, before moving up to occupy the higher camps, ready for the final push.
Altitude and Health
Acclimatisation is a process which allows the body to adapt to an environment with reduced oxygen. The best way to acclimatise is to ascend slowly or to ascend to a higher level for a while, then to descend. An ideal scenario will combine these two techniques. All our trips are designed with a focus on safe and sensible acclimatisation. Nevertheless the speed at which a body adapts varies from individual to individual.
Expect changes to your body and habits to occur, including your muscles feeling tired more quickly, a change in your sleeping habits, increased gasping for breath, loss of appetite and generally requiring more energy to do basic things. Our guides are very experienced in identifying symptoms of altitude sickness and will always have alternative plans to aid further acclimatisation in the event that this may be required.
Exped Adventure offers 3 training courses as preparation for the Cho Oyu expedition. We run amountaineering skills course in Scotland, a fixed lines training course and a specifictechnical kit training course in the Lake District, all of which are included in the price and are run by the head guides of your expedition. One of the courses will also include a visit from the head Sherpa who will be working with you on the mountain.
The courses ensure that you will use all of the kit and your expedition tents beforehand, so nothing will come as a surprise. The fixed line training will be run underground as caving days, where all the equipment you will use on the mountain will be put to the test in more extreme conditions, so that everything will be second nature to you once you’re at high altitude. The training days will also give you opportunity to get to know your team mates and tent partner.
Additionally, we provide you with a personal training action plan, setting targets for your individual fitness training for Cho Oyu.
Our Sherpa Team
Our Sherpa teams are essential to our safety on the mountain and the smooth operation of our expedition. Our Sherpas will ensure that all camp stores, food and oxygen are in the right place on the mountain at the right time. Makalu Sherpa is run by a team of very talented climbing Sherpas who are from the village of Neesha. They have a huge amount of experience and an exceptionally strong summit record.
As you will be working very closely with our team of Sherpas, with a 1:1 Sherpa client ratio, we believe it is important for you to have the opportunity to meet your head Sherpa before your expedition. We are the only expedition company offering this relationship-building exercise on your training weekend.
Climbing an 8,000m peak is a serious undertaking with different dangers, difficulties and local weather patterns, which should not be underestimated. However, Cho Oyu is regarded as the easiest and safest of the 8,000m peaks. It has less avalanche and rock fall danger, fewer steep slopes and relatively easy access. Ropes are fixed along the best route to safeguard the climb.
Your expedition leader will ensure that sensible timings are adhered to on the summit day – reaching the summit late in the day would be a serious mistake. Whilst reaching the summit is our final aim, it will not be pursued to the detriment of safety. Ensuring safety on the mountain will always be our prime consideration.
We aim to make sure that all the kit we use is to the highest standards. We are equipped with satellite telephones, the best oxygen bottles and apparatus available, high quality Marmot 4 high altitude tents and high altitude stoves, rock ice and snow anchors and full safety equipment.
For our base camps, we have comfortable, heated dining tents with tables and chairs, where our cooks prepare fresh food and hot drinks at least 3 times a day.
Let us know about any food intolerance or allergies in advance and we will do our best to accommodate them.
The expedition will start in Kathmandu, Nepal. Here, we will finalise arrangements, organise our expedition kit and enjoy the local culture, before flying to Lhasa. From here, it is a three day drive across the Tibetan plateau to Cho Oyu Base Camp (16,400ft). The drive offers a great chance to encounter the harsh landscape and customs of the high plateau, as we visit monasteries and traditional Tibetan farm towns along the way and enjoy views of the surrounding peaks: Everest, Cho Oyu, and Shishapangma.
We meet the rest of the team in Tingri, where we stop overnight to help adjust to the altitude at 4,342m, before reaching base camp. The town itself is a dusty one-street hamlet surrounded by the tents of nomadic Tibetans.
The drive to Base camp early next morning follows a dirt road along the Ra Chu Valley and has spectacular views of the Himalaya. Once in base camp, we will meet our Yak drivers and their animals, and rest for a day to allow for packing and acclimatising. Yaks will then carry our loads to Advance Base Camp (5,600m) at the foot of the famous Nangpa-La pass, a historic trading route still used today to bring wood from the Khumbu forests of Nepal into Tibet.
The next three or four days are spent establishing Advanced Base Camp and making short acclimatization forays to the lower reaches of the West Ridge. With the assistance of our Sherpa team, we will place Camp I (21,000 ft.) atop the West Ridge. Over the next ten days, we will establish Camp II (23,100 ft.) and Camp III (24,500 ft.).
We will repeatedly move up and down the mountain to enhance strong acclimatization and overall fitness. Once our last camp is set and the team has rested for a few days at Advanced Base Camp, we will begin the summit climb.
Our summit attempt begins between midnight and 1 a.m. We will climb with supplemental oxygen on summit day.
From High Camp, we’ll ascend the West Face through a rock band and up snow slopes of 25° to 40° to reach the West Ridge proper. This gentle ridge leads to the large summit plateau at approximately 26,000 ft. From there, we’ll spend the next hour travelling across this plateau to reach the true summit and a spectacular 360° view which includes Everest, Lhotse, Ama Dablam and an array of Himalayan peaks. To the north lies the Tibetan plateau (the highest in the world), and to the south stand hundreds of Nepalese peaks.
After reaching the summit, our team will descend to Camp II. It takes approximately five days to clear the mountain and move equipment back to Base Camp.
Once we have arrived at Base Camp and said farewell to our Tibetan yak drivers, we’ll begin our return to Kathmandu. After arriving in Kathmandu, we’ll sort equipment and celebrate in the fascinating capital city before our international departures.
Qualified British Guide on every trip
All our treks have qualified and experienced leaders, hand-picked for individual itineraries. We are lucky to have a team of highly competent and trusted guides working for us who are dedicated to keeping on top of best practice and have extensive experience in their respective fields.
Personalised support and attention to detail are what set us apart! This starts with your first email or call to our office, through the numerous questions, looking after you the mountain and to the next adventure. What matters most is that you feel comfortable with us on your trip, not just safety-wise, but on a personal level. Meeting you in our office for a coffee and a chat, or introducing our guides on our training courses is a big part of this.
Unlike many of the bigger companies, we offer continuity throughout all expedition phases – we make sure that you get used to the same face throughout. Assigning one guide as main contact for every meeting and training session will make things easier for you, and gives plenty of time for group members to get familiar with their main expedition leaders.
We believe that group size is one of the most important factors determining the kind of experience you will have. Smaller group sizes give us the flexibility to meet individual goals and expectations and work more closely with each client. However, we are happy to work with larger groups by special arrangement.
Exped Adventure has a perfect safety record, with access to remote medical support. Additionally, Exped’s director is trained as a Wilderness Medical Technician. Safety on our expeditions is our highest priority. Where appropriate, we carry satellite phones, pulse oximeters, oxygen, gamow bags and expedition first aid kits. Our leaders are medically trained and experienced with polar, high altitude and remote conditions. We have invested in additional safety appliances such as a PLB and Spot Device.
Best route and itinerary
From remote mountain tops to polar crossings – we’ve been there and done it. We are out there on recce-trips, researching new destinations, and pushing outside our own comfort zone, to make sure every trip we offer is tried and tested. For most of our expeditions, our guides will leave early to check the conditions before our clients arrive.
Our aim is to help our clients gain confidence in themselves and their abilities. All of our itineraries have an emphasis on skills and personal development, and we regard training in the pre-expedition phase as highly important. This is why it is part of our trip package. Our training courses are the reason why our groups are strong and close-knit, and have a strong track record of reaching the expedition goals.
Exped Adventure Worldwide is insured for all of our international treks. Our partner Nomadic Travels offers ATOL and ABTA protected flights.
3 stage training programme
What’s not included in the price
We advise you to take out your insurance as soon as you book your trip. Insurance which covers mountain rescue, evacuation and medical expenses is essential, and we will require a copy of your insurance prior to departure. For advice on best policies get in touch.
We offer a list of items for rental during the trip. We also offer great deals on a range of these items if you order through us. Additionally, our clients receive a 15% discount at Cotswold Outdoor on all kit. Our equipment list will inform you about the function of each piece of equipment, and makes sure you are well equipped for your high altitude trip. Don’t cut corners on the quality of your gear.