Cho Oyu Climbing Expedition News Spring 2012

Cho Oyu Climbing Expedition News Spring 2012


Photos in Cho Oyu slideshow: David Lepagne, Guntis Brands, Phil Crampton, Johan Frankelius, Herve Coron, & Thierry Auberson. For caption information on these photos, please visit our Cho Oyu photo gallery.
Cho Oyu Spring 2012: news of our expedition
22 April to 29 May
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Trip Summary: : Our team of men and women reached thebsummit of the world's sixth highest mountain on 25 May, 2012 together with our expert sherpas. This was our 10th successful Cho Oyu expedition. Everyone did a great job and we send our sincere congratulations. Max, our leader had climbed the mountain several times before and was very accomplished at timing the tricky weather to the acclimatization of the team.

Cho Oyu has about the most beautiful advanced basecamp I have ever seen, on the edge of the Nangpa La Glacier, surrounded by glamourous peaks. We had a training day and practiced our fixed rope technique on some small ice cliffs near to ABC. Our skillful cooks prepared delicious meals and we had acomfortable individual tent for each member in ABC. The walk up to camp 1 at 6400 metres/21,000 feet follows a glacial moraine and rock scree slope. Its fine to do that walk in sturdy trekking boots.

Cho Oyu has just two steep places, an 8 metre/26 foot high snow ice step, and a 5 metre/16 foot high rock step. Ropes are fixed here for safety. The  summit plateau of Cho Oyu is quite broad, and you have to cross this plateau to get to the summit, where you can see a wondrous view of Everest and th Khumbu Valley.

Everyone had a great time on Cho Oyu, which is the most accessible of the worlds fourteen 8000 metre / 26,000 foot high peaks and considered to be the best way to train for Everest. We encourage you to join our next Cho Oyu expedition from 2 September to 9 October 2012 or 21 April to 28 May, 2013. Welcome to our team!

Blog posts: Please click one of the links below to go directly to that blog post or just scroll down.

27 May -


Ralph and Palden at Summit. Mark at summit

Today is May 27th and we’re back from the summit.

Our summit push happened on May 25th and things very smooth. We left camp 3 at about 2am. The team split according to different speeds. Ralph, Palden and I summited at 10:30am. The views were absolutely fantastic. We could see 4 eighthousanders from there. We didn’t have much time and started the descent at aout 10:45am.

At about 11am we met Mark and Jangbu sherpa. They were strong and steady, about 1 hour short to the summit. They were already on the plateau and summited at about 12:00. They also had amazing views from the summit.

Yatsumichi and Lhakpa turned around at about 7900m and we met them again at Camp 3, 7500m. We waited for Mark at Camp 3 and we all ended up sleeping at 7500m that night.

On the 26th most of the team had an epic descent to ABC. Yatsumichi and Mark ended up sleeping at C1, 6400m and they are coming down to join the rest of the team. We plan to sleep and Nyalam tonight. There are 15 yaks here waiting for the loads.

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26 May -

Team summits!!


Max and Ralph at Summit. Max at Summit

Team reports in live (click here to listen)

Hi this is Max giving a dispatch for the Cho Oyu spring 2012 expedition.

I’m glad we’re back to camp 3 at the moment. I apologize for the lack of communication yesterday. The weather was really bad.

I’d like to say that we summited! Apart from Yasamuchi who turned around. The rest of the team summited at different times. We’re all safe in camp 3.

We’re heading to ABC today. Everyone is very happy.

Thank you very much for following the news at Bye, bye. back to top


Camp 3. Ralph melting snow at 6500m - Mark Van't Hof

24 May -

Team going for the summit tomorrow!! Wish us luck.


Way to C2 Mark at 6600m. Mark working on vertical ice pitch at 6700m

Team reports in live (click here to listen)

We’re currently at 7500 meters at Camp 3 and everyone arrived safely here.

Today is May 24th and we’re planning to make the summit on May 25th and so far it’s looking very good, the weathers’ clear. Today is probably the first clear day in three weeks so we’re very happy with that.

So wish us luck and we will call hopefully reach the summit tomorrow and call again tomorrow from Camp 3.

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23 May  -

Team reports in live (click here to listen)

21 May-


Camp 2 towards  camp 3 (Yasumichi Otsuka). Max, Ralph, Yatsumichi, Lhakpa and Palden at 6500m - Mark Van't Hof

Today is May 21st and the team is still at ABC waiting for low winds.

After checking our weather reports daily it looks like our ‘magic day’ is May 25th. Looks like there’s a good window on the 25th and the winds are very low. Also seems that the 26th is also a good day so we can descent to ABC safely without getting blown away from high camps. Our only worry is precipitation in the afternoon of 25th and morning 26th. So our plan is to leave very early from C3 at 7450m, summit and descent to C2 same day.

Our summit push starts tomorrow the 22nd when we plan to sleep at C1, then C2 and so on…

Wish us luck!

Expedition Leader back to top

18 May-

Tashi Delekh, Namaste!

Hello dear followers of our expedition Cho Oyu April 2012. My name is Mark van 't Hof, living in The Netherlands. Yes, that tiny, flat country at the North Sea, Europe, with no mountains (highest point 320 m. sea level!).

From the dining tent on a rest day, Friday 18.05, I write this dispatch to tell you all that we are okay. Some rest, one fixes the zipper of his sleeping bag and I drink my coffee at the dining table full of eating. Tuna, cheese, cookies, dried fruit, peanuts, you name and it's there. Some are left by other expeditions, which are back to Kathmandu. We're almost the only expedition, although yakmen told us that a German expedition from Sisha Pangma will arrive later today.

It's a broad perspective you get when you speak to climbers from all over the world: Chili, Spain, Mexico, Russia, Switzerland, Czech, and of course our guides of Nepal and kitchenboys Jimmy and Tashi from Tibet.

It's already our third day of rest, after we came down from camp 2 (7145 m.) where we slept. To me a new height record. The view from there at the world is amazing: mountains that looked so big at ABC (5700 m.) are lower than my point of view. The view is impressive, fores respct for Nature. But when I turn around, there is still that big task lying ahead for us: climbing via camp 3 (7400 m.) and a rockband to the almost flat snowfield that covers Cho Oyu like a cap. I was a bit down when we had to go down: so close, and then walk away, descending 1400 m. But we had to according the acclimatisation program.

First time coming to ABC looks to me like the end of the world and very basic. Now it's the center of my world of Cho Oyu for already 2 weeks and it has become a place of rest and luxury: I already had two showers and washed all my used clothes!

We are waiting for a summit day with lesser wind than now is shown at the wheaterforecast at internet. We have some days extra in our program, that's not the problem. We just have to wait ... not so easy when you have full sight at Cho Oyu the whole day!

So,I'm finishing now. The expedition that was announces has arrived and we're drinking now tea together, listen to their story of Shisha Pangma and exchange our adventures all around the world. The group has members from Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria. Fresh talks! We like it.

We speak to you later! back to top

15 May-


Palden Sherpa rapelling vertical ice pitches at 6800m. The first icefall 6700m - Mark Van't Hof

Today is May 15th and the team made it safely back to ABC.

We spent 1 night at 7100m (camp 2) and we have now finished our acclimatization plan. It worked really well and our team adapted better than expected to the high altitudes.

Today was extremely windy and we were concerned about losing tents. Before leaving 7100m however, we collapsed all our tents and headed to camp 1.

There’s no one left on the mountain now. Our team is the only one left at ABC.

We’ll write tomorrow with photos and stories of how the technical climb on ice was at 6700m.

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13 May-

Porter on the way to C1 - Mark Van't Hof. Team going down the scree slope at 6100m - Mark Van't Hof

Today is May 13th, 11am, and we’re heading to 7100m.

We just had 2 days rest and witnessed Cho Oyu getting emptied. There are no expeditions here. The only ones left apart from us are 2 Chileans who just went up to C1 today and will probably try the summit soon. We wish them good luck. The rest of the teams left the mountain and ABC is completely empty.

Mark, Ralph and Yatsumichi just left ABC for their last acclimatization trip up the mountain. This time we plan to reach C2 at 7100m and sleep there 1 night. Our sherpas left ABC yesterday and woke up at C1 today. This morning they went to 7100 to establish our camp 2. We’re very proud of them.

Tomorrow, May 14th, the whole SummitClimb team will push together to Camp 2, it seems pretty windy up there at the moment but our team is very prepared for it.

Winds are blowing from west now and there are a few 50 km/h gusts sometimes. The weather is definitely changing here and reminds the weather that usually anticipates the monsoon. So far it's snowed every day at Cho Oyu ABC and we all look forward for the bright-blue days (if there are any…)

Everything looks very good; our members are doing very well. No one has any health problems whatsoever and they are holding up very well considering we are almost completely alone on Cho Oyu. This usually gets people depressed but our team is very solid and everyone is keeping busy during the rest days.

Yasumichi has finished reading his 16th book about Roman History, he has 3 left. Mark is taking amazing photos all over the mountain and was showing us his 50 thousand MP3 collection last night. Ralph shows up at the dinning tent every morning with his fresh brewed coffee and shares it with everyone. He misses his 2 daughters very much.

Wish us luck reaching camp 2 tomorrow!

See you soon

Thanks for following the news at

Max back to top

11 May-

The whole team is back and safe to ABC. Today is sunny and the mountain is melting down after a few weeks of snow. Our team made it to 6600m yesterday and we are very proud of them. Unfortunately our plan to get Thomas up the mountain has failed. We set an intermediate camp for him at about 6020m and we sent him there a day earlier than the rest of the team together with Jangbu Sherpa. The idea was that he wouldn’t have to deal with the 5 km (3 mile) glacier walk between here and the 500m scree slope that leads to Camp 1. On Tom’s second day, when he was supposed to climb up the 500m scree slope and meet the rest of the team at 6500m, it was just too hard for him. Tom did amazing things using his artificial limb and crutches, but the way up to 6500m was way too slippery and he’d end up breaking his good leg. He then decided to go back to ABC and then back home.


Cho Oyu from Mark's tent - Mark Van't Hof. On the way to the top of a 5600m acclimatisation peak - Mark Van't Hof

The rest of the team made it safely to 6500m and spent a night there. On the 10th we left camp 1 and went towards C2 for an acclimatization trip. Ralph, Mark and Yatsumichi also climbed their first vertical ice pitches in Cho Oyu. They did very well. Together with Palden Sherpa, Lhakpa Sherpa and myself, the team reached 6600m. Although we all had a lot of fun, the weather was awful up there. Everyone then descended back to ABC.

We are in our rest day here at 5700m and just said goodbye to Tom who is going back to Germany right now.

It seems that the weather is clearing and the snowy afternoons are going away. Like it happens every year, end of way has a little more wind.

Our plan to rest here today and tomorrow, then head to C1 and C2 next day. This will be the end of our acclimatization and our summit day might be around 23rd of May.

Most of the teams are gone from ABC and there’s only 2 chileans, 3 spanish and us in Cho Oyu.

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9 May-

Today is May 9th and we are at ABC.

Yesterday our team went to a nearby glacier to do some training and revise fix rope and vertical ice climbing techniques. They all did very well and everyone was glad they had a chance of raising questions down here at ABC and not at 6600m dealing with the real stuff.

Tom went to C1 a day early together with Jangbu, they set an intermediate camp at 6000m so Tom wouldn’t have to walk all the long glacier and get up the scree slope in one single day. Reminding you Tom has only 1 leg. Today they called on the radio and said Tom had some trouble with the slippery ice at 6300m.

Yasumichi, Ralph and Mark are on the way to C1 right now and plan to sleep at 6500m tonight. Then tomorrow we’ll all approach the icy slopes at 6700m for acclimatization sake. This will be our first night at extreme altitudes. Everyone is more than ready and acclimatized for this. Our plan is to go back to ABC and go for a third and last acclimatization trip on the 14th and 15th. We plan to sleep at least 1 night at c2 (7100m) and go back to ABC around the 15th. Then the team will be ready for the summit push.

I’m here at ABC writing this dispatch and will soon start the 4 hours walk/climb to 6500m The weather seems nice in the mornings but snows every afternoon since we’re here.

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Mark going up icy slope - Palden Sherpa. Ralph anchored at 5800m during ice training - Mark Van't Hof.

7 May-

Today is May 7th and we are back to ABC 5700m.

Today is our rest day after a trip up to camp 1 6450m. Our team did very well and our first camp is pretty much established. We want to leave ABC on the 9th and explore the route to camp 2 on the 10th. It seems pretty icy but there are no avalanches. Every afternoon is cloudy and snows about 2 inches every day. The mornings are usually sunny and the weather gets bad at about 1pm. We hope this situation changes next weeks and we get completely blue days

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Our team in the dinning tent. Our team saying goodbye to the locals at Dablum 5300m - Mark Van't Hof.

4 May-

Today is May 4th and we are at ABC 5700m.

We left Interim Camp on May 2nd at about 10am. The walk was very enjoyable but we had a storm towards the end. Yasumichi, Ralph and Mark went to ABC first and I stayed with Tom at the back. It was very impressive to see him moving around the snow and ice patches. When people see him moving around they don’t really believe Tom only has one real leg. Tom has to make a huge effort (almost double of an average person), to move up. He deals with the hard situations with plenty humour and jokes. We made it to ABC yesterday at about 4pm whilst Ralph was already here at 2pm, then Yasumichi and Mark were here half hour later. We had a hard time setting up camp under snow but it all worked out at the end.

ABC after arrival - Mark Van't Hof

Although is very high here, our team is doing very well. When we left BC we also had to say goodbye to Edward. He had a sinus infection and a very strong form of flu. It just wouldn’t heal. We tried really hard to get him to stay but unfortunately he got to the point of deciding to leave or stay. He focused on his health and went to Kathmandu on May 2nd. We will miss him very much. I’ve promised to take his kata to the summit of Cho Oyu  It was given to him in a puja he had in Karthmandu.

Talking about puja, can’t forget to mention the puja we had here at ABC today. Puja is a welcoming Buddhist Ceremony. The sherpas really believe it and they won’t even touch the mountain without one. It is a very interesting ceremony. They have a trained lama to read the Tibetan sanskrits and the sherpa cover our camp with prayer flags. There are 5 different colors of prayer flags and they have a whole technique to spread them around camp. Our members really enjoyed the ceremony. We had a beautiful day during it. Actually when the lama closed the book the weather started to get worse! For the non believers the puja was a very good mark to our arrival to Cho Oyu.

From here at ABC, we can see the beautiful and historical pass Nangpa La. We can also see Cho Oyu itself and the whole route above camp 1. We have set our dinning tent today and also our kitchen, shower and toilet tents. Although we’re so high, our member have a lot of comfort here.

Tomorrow is our training day. We’ll take our members to a glacier nearby and revise a few ice climbing and fixed rope techniques. This will really help when we hit the vertical ice pitches at 6700m.

There are another 5 teams here at ABC but most of them might leave the mountain in 5 or 6 days.

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Our puja at ABC 5700m - Mark Van't Hof.

2 May-

Today is May 2nd and we are at Interim camp at 5300m.

Our expedition required 43 yaks to take all the equipment, food and fuel to our ABC. We’ll start heading to ABC tomorrow morning with the yaks and hope to establish our advanced basecamp by 5pm.

Everyone is adapting well to the high altitude and so far no one had any major problems even though we’re above 5000m already. From here we can see the north side of Cho Oyu which includes a little bit of the route we’ll take in a few weeks. We also can see the very beautiful Jowo Rabtsang which is higher than 7000m and is right next to us!

Mark, Ralph, Tom and Yatsumichi went trekking today around camp so the long walk to ABC tomorrow doesn’t feel so hard. They are doing very well and we’re very proud of them.

For the last 4 days we had a little bit of wind in the night temperatures drop quite low to about -18C. We heard there are 5 expeditions at ABC already and we’ll be the 6th one. We look forward to meet other climbers tomorrow.

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The 30th was Edward’s birthday. Here is him cutting his own cake. Dorje our super cook made a cake at 5000m. Using just pots he managed to make a very descent cake. Congrats Edward! Mark at the top of a 5500m hill - Thomas Meier. Local kids enjoying Dorje's risotto - Mark Van't Hof. The SummitClimb Cho Oyu 2012 Spring Expedition: At the front, left to right: Ralph, Tashi, Palden, Max, Edward and Jangbu. At the back, left to right: Mark, Dorje, Lhakpa, Chimmy, Thomas and Yasumichi.

29 April -

Today is April 29th and we are at Chinese BC at 4900m.

We are doing very well and the weather is cooperating. Yesterday Mr Edward Maczuga came from Lhasa and joined the main team to the summit of Cho Oyu. He had a very good trip and really enjoyed Lhasa and Shigatse.

All our staff and equipment are here. We’ll rest here at BC for 2 days before start walking and setting up our Interim Camp at 5300 where we’ll spend another 2 nights.

We saw Everest today. Two SummitClimb teams are there now. The Everest Tibet Expedition led by Dan Mazur and the Everest Nepal Expedition, lef by Arnold Coster. We wish them good luck and good weather.

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Mark at the Thong La. Chinese BC at 4900m - Mark Van't Hof

27 April - 

Today is April 27th and we are in Tingri. From here we can see the Tibetan Plateau and many traditional Tibetan constructions. We also have very close contact with the Tibetan lifestyle. What an interesting place to be!

Today we’ve met Chimmy, our kitchen assistant who is a nomad and lives in a tent with his family a few miles outside Tingri (literally the middle of nowhere). Chimmy has worked with us in 4 previous climbing expeditions.

Although we’re at 4500m, everyone is doing very well and holding up. So far no one had signs of bad acclimatization and we’re all enjoying the trip. We’ll spend 2 nights here in Tingri then move up towards Cho Oyu’s chinese BC which is 4900m high.

Our German member from Bavaria, Mr Thomas Meier, impresses all of us each day. Thomas has lost one leg in a climbing accident 29 years ago and now uses a prosthetic high-tech leg. He’s very positive about it and very strong. We all feel honored to have him as an expedition member.

Tomorrow is our second rest day in the trip so we’ll take it very easy and go for a light acclimatization trek to a nearby mountain which is 5100m.

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Yasumichi, Thomas and Ralph at 4600m - Mark Van't Hof.  Team having tea in Tingri - Mark Van't Hof. First view of Cho Oyu - Mark Van't Hof. Excersising at the 5200m pass Thong La - Mark Van't Hof.

26 April -

Today is April 26th and we finally made it to Tibet!!

After our last preparations and arranging visa and permit issues, we finally left Kathmandu on April 25th at 3am. Mr Ralph Jaiser finally arrived to Kathmandu at 2pm on the 24th and managed to buy everything he needed during his only night in Kathmandu.

The drive to Kodari went incredibly smooth and we had no landslides, no strikes and no blockages on the road. In only a few hours we crossed the border with no problems whatsoever. We have about 80 loads and every single one had to be carried by porters over the friendship bridge.

The Chinese are taking good care of us. The CTMA, the government agency in charge of the climbers, put us in a very good hotel and is feeding us 3 times a day.

Today is our rest day here in Nyalam and we are going for a light trek on the nearby hills. From here we are able to see the amazing Shishapangma, the 14th highest mountain in the planet. also runs expeditions there every year.

Everyone in the team is doing great. Yasumichi is improving his english and teaching us japanese! We’re moving to Tingri tomorrow (4500m) then sleep 2 nights there. During our second day wel’ll meet Edward, who is traveling around the Lhasa region and will join the rest of the team the day after tomorrow.

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 Our team in Nyalam - Mark Van't Hof. Nyalam - Mark Van't Hof.

21 April - 

Today our expedition officially starts. Two of our members already arrived. Mr Yasumichi Otsuka from Japan arrived on the 18th and Mr Mark van't Hof from Holland, arrived today. So far they really enjoyed Nepal.

Kathmandu is sunny and quite pleasant. Our staff is working on the logistics while our agent is working hard to get all the necessary paperwork before the trip. Over the years, SummitClimb has established a very good relationship with the chinese authorities. SummitClimb was allowed into Tibet even during the 2008 Olympic Games when only a handful of expeditions did! We are very happy with this and will continue keeping up our good relations with CTMA and other chinese authorities.

Today I had a meeting with Ms Elizabeth Hawley. She known as the 'himalayan record-keeper'. Ms Hawley has been keeping records of every single expedition who climbed any major nepali peaks since the 60s. We admire Ms Hawley's work and dedication very much. Read more about Ms Hawley here:

Cho Oyu Spring 2012 team rooster:

  • Edward Maczuga - Canada
  • Yasumichi Otsuka - Japan
  • Mark van't Hof - Holland
  • Thomas Heinrich Meier - Germany
  • Ralph Jaiser - Chile
  • Nima Dorje Lama - head cook
  • Dawa Jangbu - climbing sherpa
  • Palden Sherpa - climbing sherpa
  • Lhakpa Tendu Sherpa - climbing sherpa

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Liz Hawley at her house after meeting.