Cho Oyu Climbing Expedition News Autumn 2011

Cho Oyu Climbing Expedition News Autumn 2011

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 Autumn 2011: news of our expedition
1 September to 8 October, 2011
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Dispatches: Please click one of the links below to go directly to that dispatch or just scroll down.

Trip Summary: : Our team of men and women reached the summit of the world's sixth highest mountain on 3 October, 2011 together with our expert sherpas. This was our 9th successful Cho Oyu expedition. Everyone did a great job and we send our sincere congratulations. Arnold, 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 a comfortable 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 the 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 22 April to 29 May or 2 September to 9 October 2012. Welcome to our team!


On the summit of Cho Oyu (Arnold Coster). Fergal Savage on the summit (Fergal Savage). Vicen Jolis on the summit (Vicent Jolis).Members heading out for their summit attempt (Vicen Jolis).
5 October, 2011

Hey everyone. Fergal Savage here from the Summit Climb autumn expedition. Greetings from Cho Oyu Advanced base camp. So after an eventful few days out on the mountain we are finally back here for much needed rest and will travel to the Chinese border tomorrow and on to Kathmandu from there. Most teams have left the mountain by now and it looks like we are one of the last here with a few hanging on still trying to find a summit shot/window. The summit day was fantastic everything and went exactly as planned and everyone played their part to a tee, which was amazing. Talk to everyone soon, long way from Mount Mellery Dad!!!!

Hey this is Richie,

The summit bid itself was an exercise in endurance with every single team member staggering about exhausted on arrival back at ABC. Even the following morning we are still feeling the effects of the previous 5 days. Cho Oyu is sometimes referred to as an easy 8000 metre peak. The words/phrase 'easy' and '8000 meter peak' should never share the same sentence. The previous month has been a true test of the team in every way imaginable, from the physical to the mental and emotional.

Still the Sherpas remain the most impressive people ever seen and their presence alone is as important to an expedition as is the specialist clothing we all wear.

Richie Maybank, UK - Expedition Member

Finally this is Arnold the expedition leader of the team.

Our waiting paid off with a very nice summit day at the finish of the expedition. The whole team did very well and the summit day went quite smooth. In the beginning of the night it was windy but luckily the wind seized in the morning and we could continue climbing with almost no wind!

The view from the summit was as beautiful as ever; Everest, Lhotse, Makalu and even Kanchenjunga in the distance.

After the summit we descended back to Camp 2 at 7050m. After a good nights rest it was still a very long way down to ABC. Late in the evening we all arrived in ABC, exhausted but satisfied!

Today we have a day of packing in ABC and tomorrow we will leave the camp together with our yaks. We will say goodbye to Paul and Urs, who are still going to attempt Shishapangma. All the others will drive to the border town of Zhangmu.

Paul and Urs will arrive in Shish BC tomorrow and meet our Shishapangma team there. They will leave all the logistics; food, tents, ropes, cook, etc. behind for them, so they can have a smooth fast ascent of Shish.

The rest of the team will arrive in Kathmandu on the 7th and probably will go for steak and beer!


Arnold back to top

Climbing up to the high camp for the summit attempt (Vicen Jolis).

4 October, 2011

Team reports in live (click here to listen)

Hello Summit Climb, this is Arnold and I’m calling from advanced base camp. So that means that the whole team is back at base camp safe and sound. It was a hard day for most people, some of us didn’t arrive until 9:00 in the evening in ABC. After a good meal from Samdien everybody is back in their tents and doing fine. Tomorrow is our last day in ABC, just a packing day and sorting our stuff together that came down from the mountain today. I hope tomorrow somebody can write a detailed dispatch. Tomorrow I will start up my computer again. This is my last voice message and we will talk more on the next dispatch. Bye bye. back to top

Members heading down after a successful summit (Vicen Jolis).

3 October, 2011

Team Summits! 

Team reports in live (click here to listen)

Hello SummitClimb News, this is Arnold calling from Camp 2 at about 7050 metres. I’m calling from camp 2 which means we have some good news, everybody on our expedition summited this morning:
  • Richie from the UK,
  • Paul from South Africa,
  • Fergal from Ireland,
  • Vicen from Spain,
  • Urs from Switzerland,
  • Arnold (myself from the Netherlands)
  • Lhakpa
  • Jangbu
  • Samdien
  • Dawa Jangbu

Right now the sherpas are carrying all of our stuff down from camp 3. We are resting in camp 2 and are hoping to enjoy the comforts of ABC tomorrow. Some of us are pretty knackered but that’s pretty normal up here after a summit.

We had pretty good weather. It started out with a windy climb but when the sun popped out the wind died down and we had some really good views from the summit, so I’m happy with the result and everybody’s reliving the summit tonight in camp 2.

Tomorrow I will call again with more details and information from ABC.

Bye bye back to top

Heading up to the high camps of Cho Oyu (Vicen Jolis).

2 October, 2011

Team reports in live (click here to listen)

Hello SummitClimb News, this is Arnold calling from camp 3 for the first time at 7450 metres.

We had a nice day today; the weather was very clear with a little bit of breeze, which was good for us as we could wear our down clothing up to camp 3 rather than carry it in our backpacks.

It’s a long way to camp 3, although if you look from camp 2 it looks like a small hill but it took between 4.5 and 6 hours to get here and again our sherpas did a terrific job. For instance when we got here the tents were ready, oxygen was on hand along with warm drinks and I’m feeling quite rich in the tent now. Everybody is cozy in their tents and I feel sorry for everyone else here outside still wandering around and trying to pitch tent in this wind.

The plan now is to have a couple of hours to hydrate and get a little food and we’ll probably set off for the summit attempt at around 2 am Chinese time so that’s roughly around 12 o’clock (Midnight) Nepali time. The two times are a little confusing here. The summit push will take roughly 8 – 10 hours and it’s a long way down again, all the way to at least camp 3.

I’m in good spirits and the members are too. I hope everyone gets out of the tent tonight and I can call tomorrow with some good news. Bye-bye. back to top

Above the clouds on Cho Oyu (Richie Maybank).

1 October, 2011

Team reports in live (click here to listen)

Hello SummitClimb News, this is Arnold again calling from Camp 2 at 7050 metres. Today we had a good day walking up to camp 2, everybody made it up there in great time and because there was a little breeze it was not too warm.

The mountain looks great. There’s a good trail going up to camp 3 and the good news is that there has been 600 meters of rope fixed above the rock band to camp 3. So that’s good news for our team.

Tomorrow we will leave camp 2 leisurely, see how everyone wakes up and then continue our plan to get to camp 3 during Sunday afternoon and into the evening. We will leave in the middle of the night for our summit push.

The weather is calm at the moment and according to the weather forecast it should stay like that but it is weather so you never know. I’m pretty positive and all the team members are positive. I’ll call you again tomorrow from camp 3.

Bye-bye back to top

Our comfortable ABC (Fergal Savage).

30 September, 2011

Team reports in live (click here to listen)

Hello SummitClimb News this is Arnold calling again from Camp 1 at 6500 metres.

Our team is waiting for our final summit push, we’ve been waiting around in basecamp for a while to see what happens and it looks like the weather is changing for the better and some logistic teams are changing on the mountains in our favour. Today we finally saw sherpas putting ropes above the yellow band above camp 3 which is of course a huge advantage.

A lot of teams are retreating, very few people have summited Cho Oyu yet and most teams have ran out of time but we are lucky as we have a few extra days. Tomorrow we will move to camp 2 and the day after to camp 3. The plan after that, if the weather is still OK is to summit on the 3rd October and then we have one more spare day and our schedule is finished so lets hope for the best.

All members are doing fine, we have just finished our dinner. Our cook boy makes our meals in camp 1 and we will be cooking for ourselves in camp 2, so spirits are high and we seem to be moving to a good place on the mountain. We’ll speak to you again tomorrow from camp 2.

back to top


The high camp life on Cho Oyu (Fergal Savage).

29 September, 2011

Our team is enjoying our last rest day in Advanced Base Camp, before we go up the hill again.

It's total summit fever madness here. Most teams are running out of time and also the weather is not great. Lost of teams went up for a last desperate push.

We decided to hold back a bit and see what will happen. We also have a couple days more in our schedule than most other teams. So we are sitting on our little "patio" in front of our dinning tent watching the mountain, commenting on other people, drinking coke and beer and enjoying Samdiens good food! Tonight we will watch a fun movie again and have one more good night of rest before we go up for the final time.

Our plan is to go up to Camp 1 tomorrow and start our summit push. If all goes well we will summit on the 3rd, but we have an extra spare day in case of set backs. By this time the mountain should be empty and all for us, which we're looking forward to!


Arnold Coster, Expedition Leader back to top

Yaks bringing supplies into ABC (Vicen Jolis).

27 September, 2011

The longest day, so far. If moving from Camp 1 to Camp 2. (6400 - 7100 metres) was seen as epic, and that day was an absolute epic, than the move from Camp 2 back down to ABC was an epic of Ben Hur proportions!

The team was supposed to move to Camp 3. (7450 metres) followed by a summit attempt that night or extreme early the following morning. As it was, a weather report was received indicating that the weather was due to worsen making a summit attempt impossible. This report was confirmed by two other sources, hence the decision was made to retreat back to ABC to rest and recuperate for a couple of days in order to make another summit bid hopefully during a far more favourable weather window.

All the tracks and ropes had been covered by snow and it was on our walking GPS system (or Sherpa's in other words), that the team was able to move primarily back to Camp 1. One of our Sherpa's almost lost his footing near a cliff edge but luckily caught it and found the route. This happened due to poor weather conditions, or life in the ping pong ball as it can be otherwise called. A quick summation of life in the ping pong ball simply means that everything is white, from ground to sky, and ridge lines are barely visible. In this case not until you actually cross it! The wind was gusting up to 100km per hour and on many occasions we would have to crouch down and wait for the gusting to pass before being able to continue on our way down. Normally it takes about 2 hours to move from Camp 2 down to Camp 1 but such was the weather that it took us closer to 6 hours.

On final arrival at Camp 1 the gusts really picked up as we retreated into the relative comfort of our tents. Inside the tents were almost comparable to a scene from 'The Blair Witch Project' where the tents were getting completely battered from the outside. Many tents had been destroyed by the winds and were actually leaving us to wonder if someone had actually done something of a personal nature to the mountain?

After a brief rest at Camp 1 we prepared to moved back to ABC. Sitting in a tent, which is getting battered by high winds whilst mentally preparing to do battle with the elements again for a few hours is one of those experiences that lead us all to remember that anticipation that an act is rarely as bad as the act itself. Having said this, the move down to ABC still took an hour longer than normal longer due to fatigue. The worst part of this leg of the trip back down was easily moving from the tents at Camp 1 to the fixed lines at the top of Horrible Hill.

After 11 hours of battling the elements the bright lights of ABC were finally observed and the team settled into a candlelit meal due to no charging of solar power due to wether. Still it was a brilliant feeling all round to be back in ABC.

Two days of rest now and then we try again!!!!

Richie Maybank - UK

Expedition Member back to top

Morning view of camp 2 (Arnold Coster).
25 September, 2011

Part 2: Team reports in live (click here to listen)

Hello SummitClimb News, this is Arnold calling from camp 2 at about 7050 metres. It’s windy in camp 2 right now which has caught us by surprise because according to the weather forecast it should be an OK day.

Everybody had quite a hard day walking up here today because the gusts of wind are pretty strong. Tomorrow morning we plan to wake up, have breakfast and we are going to look at the mountain very carefully to see if this is our summit chance or not and we’ll decide tomorrow. If not then we’ll go down to basecamp for another couple of days of rest before we try again. If the conditions are acceptable then we will push on so I will let you know what the plan is.

Right now everyone is in camp 2, everybody’s healthy and most of them are asleep right now, so I will let you know when I have more news – goodbye. back to top

Part 1: Team reports in live (click here to listen)

Hello this is Arnold calling from 6400 metres. The whole group slept in camp 1 last night. I’m sorry I’m giving the dispatch so late but last night I had a little bit of a problem leaving a message. It looks lives it’s solved now.

Yesterday the climb up was very very windy and we have a lot of fresh snow. It also looks like today is going to be a windy day. Actually we were gambling for better weather after the bad weather so the weather forecast for the 27th is going to be nice and that’s what we’re gambling with.

We’re here with three other groups who have the same plan so we will see what happens. At least today when we are walking through camp 2 we won’t have to suffer the heat from the sun. The wind is a remedy to the sun. So it’s going to be a long walk to camp 2 again which will take 6 or 7 hours and tonight we will rest there.

Everybody’s doing fine, everybody’s healthy and I’ll call tonight from camp 2 again. back to top

Our comfortable basecamp (Richie Maybank).

24 September, 2011

Today we will leave Advanced Base Camp for our summit push.

According to the weather forecast from Fugro Geos the next two days we can expect a little more snow, but on the night of the 26th it should clear and better weather should be here. This weather forecast is a huge advantage for me, helps me a lot making a decision.

Just received a radio call from our Sherpa's, they are close to Camp 2 at the moment and will try to reach Camp 3 at 7450m to deposit tents, oxygen and food we need for our summit attempt. Tonight we will see them in Camp 1 again and we will climb up together to Camp 2 the next day.

Our plan is to attempt the summit on the 27th, but this might change if the weather changes.

So all is well and we are excited to go up the mountain again.


Arnold Coster, expedition leader back to top

Movie night in ABC (Arnold Coster).

23 September, 2011 

Hello everyone! This is Magnus reporting in from SummitClimb’s autumn Cho Oyu Expedition.

After two rest days at Advanced Base Camp, today we are moving up the mountain for our summit push. If all goes well with health, weather and stamina, we may reach the summit in the early morning of September 27th. Arnold will report in by phone during the summit push so please listen to his dispatches.

The two days at ABC has been filled with maintenance such as laundry and also by great food by our kitchen staff and great movies every night in the dining tent from Arnold’s projector. Yesterday night we must have been close to 20 persons in the little tent.

Lastly, I have a very special “HAPPY 5th BIRTHDAY” to my daughter Luna from all of us here at the expedition. We hope you have a great birthday!

Thanks for following our expedition and make sure to listen in to the exciting dispatches in the coming days. back to top


Team in ABC (Arnold Coster).

22 September, 2011

The day before yesterday we left camp 1 at 6400m early for our first encounter with the famous ice wall. The ice wall is a 20m ice cliff we had to conquer to reach Camp 2 at 7050m. The lower part of the wall is not so steep, until you reach a gully in the centre of the wall. From here the route shoots straight up; hard work with a big backpack at this altitude!

After the ice wall the route zigg zags up between seracs. About half way through there is an other steeper section on a serac. An absolute killer at this altitude. After this serac the route is not very steep until you reach Camp 2. The terrain looks a bit like sand dunes in the desert, you think after every snow hill the camp must be there, but that is an illusion. The route continues like that for hours!

This day was a big test for our team. We all reached the camp between 6-8 hours. For most of us it was the first time at this extreme altitude and it was hard to take care of ourselves in the camp. After you reach the camp another job starts; collecting snow and starting to melt it into water to make drinks and food to keep us strong. This process takes a couple of hours before you can go to sleep and rest!

The next day going down was easy. An hour before ABC our cook boy greeted us with tea and a beer for the leader. This boy understands what I need!

After a superb dinner made by our cook Samdien and a movie, we all crashed in our tents.

Today and tomorrow we will rest. There are some politics going on with the rope fixing and also I need to make up my mind weather wise, but it looks likes our summit push is coming soon...

Stay tuned,

Arnold Coster, expedition leader back to top


Climbing the icewall between camp 1 and camp 2 (Arnold Coster).

21 September, 2011

Two days ago we were surprised by an earthquake.

Everybody was in the dinning tent when it happened; we were watching "the Hangover" movie. Our tent started shaking heavy; quickly we turned off the movie and the heater. The Advanced Base Camp was surrounded by sounds of avalanches and seracs collapsing, but nothing near our Base Camp.

I radioed Camp 1 to make sure our Sherpa's were alright, but besides the shock, nothing was wrong. So we started the movie and the heater again and had a laugh all the way through the movie.....

The next day I spoke with our office in Kathmandu and also nothing major happened there. Besides a few minor damaged buildings everything is fine.

The epicenter of the earthquake is still quite far from the area where we operate.

Nothing much has changed on the mountain, besides a few slab avalanches, everything is the same. Actually the earthquake helped us to get rid of most of the avalanche danger......


Arnold Coster, expedition leader back to top

Camp 2. The descent back to camp 1 (Arnold Coster).
20 September, 2011

Team reports in live (click here to listen)

Hello SummitClimb News, this is Arnold again but this time I’m calling from camp 2 at 7050 metres.

The whole team reached camp 2 today. It was a long day for most people, camp 1 to camp two is normally the longest day in the schedule. It starts with a gradual climb and then we hit the ice wall, which is pretty steep but exciting.

Then we get a little bit flat after that and again we get to a field not as steep as the ice wall but quite a steep slope. It’s a different combination with high temperatures and inclines which is challenging for most people.

Right now everyone’s had there dinner. Most are resting and trying to get some sleep and tomorrow we will descend to ABC again, This will finalise our acclimatisation, then we can start to plan when we will go for our summit attempt. This all depends of course on logistics, weather and also on the Tibetans and when they are going to do the big climb to the summit.

So far everybody’s fine and I will send out next dispatch from ABC goodbye. back to top

ABC (Arnold Coster).

19 September, 2011

Hello SummitClimb News. This is Arnold, the leader of the Cho Oyu expedition. I’m calling again from camp 1 at 6400 metres, 21,000 feet.

Last night it was a bit exciting in ABC because we felt a small earthquake. We were in the dining tents watching a movie and everything started shaking heavily. At first we weren’t sure what was happening. Today we found out that it was an earthquake of a 6.8 magnitude.

Everybody is fine. Today while we were climbing up we could see some small avalanches had been triggered by the earthquake, but nothing major. So don’t worry. Everybody is doing well.

We’re planning to continue climbing to camp 2 at about 7000 metres/23,000 feet. This will be our first night in camp 2 and finalize our acclimatization. Everybody is looking forward to go up. Right now it’s snowing every evening so far. The weather report predicts better weather after the 21st, so that’s good. We’ll see what happens. We’re going to finish our acclimatization and probably go back to ABC on the 21st. Stay tuned for more news. I’ll will in again tomorrow from camp 2. Bye, bye. back to top

Snowy high camp (Arnold Coster).

18 September, 2011 

During the course of the 16th - 17th, the team spent their first night at Camp 1 at an altitude of 6400 metres. It was the team's second ascent of the now infamous Horrible Hill section of Cho Oyu. The second time up was easier (mentally at least).

The night was a cough filled pleasure and I think I can speak for everyone when I say that the team cannot wait for their next night at Camp 1 and Camp 2 at an altitude of 7000 meters. Following the night at Camp 1, the team partook in an acclimatization climb from Camp 1 to an altitude of 6650 meters, still 4 hours short of Camp 2.

The trek back to ABC was uneventful enough with the team complete back in location within 5 hours of leaving Camp 1 after a short rest following the acclimatization climb.

The expedition is now about to reach the more serious stages of the game and morale remains high.

Richie Maybank - UK

Expedition Member back to top

Climbing above camp 1 to camp 2 (Arnold Coster).

16 September, 2011

Team reports in live (click here to listen)

Hello SummitClimb News. This is Arnold Coster the leader of the Cho Oyu expedition calling from camp one at about 6400 metres

Today the whole team climbed to camp one for the second time, only this time we are going to spend the night here. Everyone’s doing fine and I think we have a really strong team. We made great time coming up here. At the moment it’s snowing. The weather’s been like that for the last couple of days. The mornings are fine, the afternoons are a little bit overcast with snow, but temperatures are high and the winds are low so that’s good.

Tomorrow we plan to climb a little bit higher.

Then we will go back down to ABC again for a few days rest and then we will climb back up to camp 1 again for the third time.

So once again everything is fine up here, everyone is doing well and we will tell our stories once we get down. Bye back to top

15 September, 2011

So we flew out of camp at 9am yesterday, or more accurately 7am Nepalese time, which is what it felt like.  That said however the weather was beautiful to say the least, cool and sunny. 

The team following in our big Dutch-leader's shadow at what he calls a "leisurely pace", the rest of us mere mortal city-dwellers. Nevertheless we made it ALL the way up Horrible hill from ABC in just over 3 hours 15 mins, the last one to arrive took only 4 hours! An AWESOME time in Arnold's opinion.

We plonked down in the snow at Camp 1 eating and drinking happily joking about the morning's experience. After a short acclimatization-rest at Camp 1 we headed down the hill and the 700m in altitude gained back to our tents in ABC. Getting back to our "home" at ABC, felt goooood. Everyone happily exhausted, rehydrating like race horses, with mild non-concerning headaches and spending the rest of the night watching Angelina Jolie as CIA-agent "Salt" for movie night.

We slept like logs and today we have no plans doing anything except for chatting, resting and looking forward to another movie night.

Paul Liebenberg, South African Expedition Member back to top

The fun trek up 'horrible hill' (Arnold Coster).

13 September, 2011

After a delicious breakfast of porridge, Belgium waffles, pepperoni sausage and fried eggs we packed our rucksacks and walked to the glacier close to camp. Because of the pressure of the ice the glacier has moved up in many places, creating the perfect practice grounds for our expedition.

Lakpha Sherpa climbed up; faster than Ueli Steck! A few minutes later we had a nice ridge to climb up, a small traverse to the rappel point and a rappel. We practiced several techniques like: ascending fixed lines, passing anchors, rappelling with figure eights, arm wrap rappels, overcoming a knot in the rope while rappelling, etc. It's always good to review techniques, even with a group of experienced mountaineers.

Our other sherpas went to camp one today to pitch a tent. Tomorrow we will all go to drop off some gear. It will be a good test to see if we are ready to go higher on the mountain.

The movie nights in our camp are a great success. Our dining tent is very comfortable and it's surprising how many people can fit inside!


Arnold Coster, Expedition leader back to top


Practicing glacier travel, ascending and descending above ABC (Arnold Coster).

12 September, 2011

After a good breakfast we had our Puja ceremony. A Puja is a Buddhist ceremony to ask the mountain god of Cho Oyu for safe passage. The ceremony includes prayers and offerings to the turquoise goddess of the snow, which is what Cho Oyu means. The ceremony also has a social aspect, other teams will join to share a drink or two and usually it's the ice breaker between the staff and the members. We are safe to travel on the mountain now and we can start preparing our logistics.

Tomorrow our staff will go to camp 1 at 6400 metres to pitch some tents, so we can go up the next day to deposit some of our gear.

We will do some rope practice tomorrow on the glacier nearby camp, just to review all the techniques for safety. Yesterday we already practiced the use of the Gamow bag. This is a portable pressure chamber to treat high altitude sickness.


Arnold Coster, Expedition Leader back to top


Team practicing use of the Gamow bag. Our fun puja ceremony in ABC (Arnold Coster).

11 September, 2011

Hello everyone, this is Magnus reporting from SummitClimb's autumn Cho Oyu expedition.

Yesterday we hiked up from intermediate camp to ABC (Advanced Base Camp) at around 5700m. The Chinese construction development is incredible and they were literally building a road in front of us as we were walking. Unfortunately we did not fully realize that the yak drivers and the yaks carrying our equipment suddenly took another trail and when the road construction suddenly ended we had to do a little bit of improvisation to get back on track again.

In any case we arrived at ABC a few hours ahead of schedule and were met with incredible views of the surrounding mountains and with hot noodle soup made by our top notch kitchen staff. It's amazing what these guys can cook up at 5000m, hamburgers, salads, stir-fried meats and vegetables, French toast, pancakes, etc. etc. The yaks soon arrived and in no time the Sherpas and our Tibetan staff had put up all the tents (kitchen-, storage-, toilet-, etc.) and we were feeling at home again.

Except for a few minor headaches from dehydration and altitude gain, everyone was feeling great.

Last night it snowed a bit and when we woke up this morning there was a thin layer of snow on the ground that matched perfectly with the clear blue sky and even better views of the surrounding mountains than yesterday. We have learned from Vicen, our team member from Barcelona that September 11th is the Catalan day so in the spirit of staying positive, this is what we will celebrate today!

We now look forward to three days of relaxing, rope training, showering, watching movies and acclimatization before we do our first day trip to camp 1. The group is great and we are having loads of fun together.

Thanks for following our expedition and please come back for more updates. back to top

Trekking towards ABC (Arnold Coster).

10 September, 2011

We all arrived in Advanced Base Camp healthy and strong. It was a long day and everybody is tired. Our camp is almost completely pitched, there are just a few small things we have to finish tomorrow. We will stay here for at least three days before we will move up higher on the mountain.

The plan is to rest tomorrow, do a rope practice the next day and the Puja the day after.

Tomorrow I will send a more detailed dispatch with pictures from our walk up.

Now its time for bed!

Good night,

Arnold Coster, Expedition leader back to top

Our sturdy and friendly yaks bringing our supplies up from interim camp to ABC (Arnold Coster).

9 September, 2011

Hey, this is Fergal Savage from the Cho Oyu  SummitClimb September expedition. I'm currently at Chinese base camp at 4790 metres. We are all getting on very well heading to Interim camp early in morning. Special dispatch for my son Tom who is 7 on the 9th. Happy birthday big man. And to everyone else Hello as well. back to top


Team in Chinese basecamp. Fergal Savage (Arnold Coster).

8 September, 2011

Yesterday we reached Cho Oyu Base Camp at roughly 4940 metres. It's only a short drive from Tingri to get here. Our staff already pitched most of the tents the day before and prepared a marvelous lunch for us. We spent the rest of the day exploring the surroundings and preparing our bags for the yaks.

Today we did an acclimatization hike to about 5350 metres; there are many hills around base camp that can be climbed.

Tonight our yaks will arrive, so we can continue our trip to interim camp at roughly 5400 metres. It's important for us not to gain altitude too fast, as this way our bodies have time to adapt.

We probably need about 50 yaks to transport our gear to Advanced Base Camp, which is going to be our home for the next month.

Interim is a very simple camp located on a meadow between the glacier moraines. After interim we have to climb a moraine all the way to Advanced Base Camp. It's quite a long way the first time because our bodies are still adapting.

All members are doing very well. It's a strong team and we get along very well. There is enough stuff to talk about at the dining table; most off us are from different countries.

My next dispatch will be from Advanced Base Camp in two days.


Arnold Coster, Expedition leader Cho Oyu autumn 2011 back to top

 Cho Oyu basecamp (Arnold Coster).

6 September, 2011

This is Grace McDonald writing a dispatch for the Shishapangma Expedition Autumn 2011. This is for September 6, 2011.

Battle for Ha Hoo Hotel:

Had an interesting day today in Tingri. It started out innocently enough with breakfast and members heading out for short acclimatization hikes. Some headed out to the old fort in Tingri and others headed up a local hill. Everyone reunited for lunch and then we had an afternoon on our hands. Richie entertained us with some cockney rhyming slang and then me and Gary headed out to grab some last minute items from the local shop.  Yesterday we'd done a recon mission and discovered they stocked a healthy supply of plastic weaponry - pellet guns of various design (AK47s, MP5s, Leugers, Shotguns, Berettas etc.). We had pondered the long rest days at ABC that were ahead of us and thought it would be a fun idea to buy a couple of these to pass time. So we decided to go ahead with the plan. 

We got back to the room to test out our weapons and fired a few "innocent" shots at the post outside the window. Of course we also took a few shots at each other inside the room. All good fun. So there we were in the room with the window open when pellets started flying through the window. The local shopkeeper, decided it was time for a turf war. We happily returned pellet fire as other members got equipped and joined in the fun. The shopkeeper was joined by friends and we responded from our rooms above. While we had previously been chasing each other around exchanging pellet fire, this surge from the shopkeeper and friends really united the team and a full response was mounted. Paul took the award for the most ingenious combat gear - a garbage can over his head and sunglasses for eye protection. Max stuck to to the puffy down jacket and sunglasses and other donned buffs and hid behind curtains. Protection was essential as the pellets were innocent enough but did leave a bit of a mark that disappeared after an hour or so. Various hits were taken, in the nose, between the eyes, behind the ear, torso, legs, etc. The shopkeeper and friends below us would pop out and take a few shots only to be bombarded with pellets from above. The battle ensued for hours and we laughed non stop - so did the shopkeeper and friends.

In order to capture the action on film I took a short assignment embedded with the enemy on the street.  People respected my status as a photo journalist and I was able to avoid an all out assault. The pics were priceless. By this point the locals had gathered to watch, women, children, men on motorcycles and other expedition teams. It was actually quite the event in town. Everyone seemed to get a kick out of it.Things got a bit complicated when we needed to restock on ammo as the shopkeeper who was sending pellets through our window with his friends was our supplier. I was able to safely make a trip down under a cease fire that was only broken by one of the young friends of the local shopkeeper. Paul unfortunately was held for a short while on his ammo run and forced to turn against us in order to gain his freedom. We literally only ceased fire when dinner time arrived. 

We gathered in the dining room, shared photos, compared welts and laughed again about how the day had transpired. I guess it's safe to say the team is generally well acclimatized and in good spirits. We're all looking forward to moving to our base camps tomorrow.

Thanks again for following our dispatches.

Grace McDonald back to top


Using the plastic guns from the window of the Ha Hoo Hotel. Paul using his plastic gun and waste bin as a helmet. The shop owner escaping from our strong Cho Oyu and Shishapangma teams. Paul with his chocolate cigar and new plastic weapon (Grace McDonald).

5 September, 2011

Hello, this is Grace McDonald (Shishapangma member) with a dispatch for September 5, 2011 for the Cho Oyu and Shishapangma Expedition Autumn 2011.

We awoke in Nylam to hot showers (for those of us who started early enough) and hot showers that turned into cold showers (for those of us who did not). The mere fact we have running showers and flushing toilets at the end of the hallway is impressive - certainly to those members who remember accommodations in prior years. Hot or cold, the hotel in Nylam is practically 5 star compared to previous accommodation options.

After breakfast the jeeps were ready to roll on down the road to Tingri and we headed back to the hotel to grab out backpacks. Max, Gary and myself (the Sishapangma team) met a member from another Shishapangma team who is a day behind us but should be arriving at basecamp along with us. He also filled us in on an Austrian team that should be arriving shortly. We understand that's it for expeditions on the North side of Shishapangma - just 4 in total, not many, but by my count we'll have 3 girls on the mountain and maybe more once the Austrian team arrives - girl power!

Over the last couple of days we all been seeing and meeting people from many other expeditions who are heading to Cho Oyu. Should be a much busier place than it was this Spring but the groups seem very multinational and friendly so it's shaping up to be a good year.

Into the jeeps we went, joined by Norbu our liaison officer for the Chinese Tibetan Mountaineering Association. We had a good time getting acquainted/reacquainted and the ride was actually kind of fun. Gary brought Toblerone and Norbu brought Chinese Red Bull; which together spell PARTY. Perhaps not an ideal combination for a drive over the Thong La pass (5300m) but we all enjoyed ourselves. Most teams stopped a the Thong La Pass to take pictures of Shishapangma (gorgeous) and all the prayer flags and then continued on to Tingri. Norbu decided we should have a stop at a location not far outside of Tingri where the grass was long and the view went all the way to Everest (if the big fluffy clouds would have moved out of the way!). It was actually a warm beautiful day on the Tibetan plateau and we walked through a gorgeous field of barley, took a little sample to nibble on for the rest of the drive and watched Norbu take a power nap in the long grass. It was a perfect extra stop to just take it all in.

Tingri, Tingri, Tingri . . . wow that place is changing. It's still pretty much a one street town filled charming dogs, hard lived people, motorcycles, honking trucks, dirt and trash BUT, the new hotel which was partially finished in the Spring is now pretty much complete. We were all treated to double rooms with ensuite. This was pretty unbelievable for people who had been here in prior years. There's also a few new stores and restaurants that have popped up. Tingri - come see it now before it loses it "rustic" charm.

The afternoon was filled with some good entertainment. Gary and I found super light, plastic AK-47 pellet guns at the store next to the hotel. We have big plans for war games at base camp. I might opt for the pistol model. They'll likely break after the first shot but we think the whole "axe in hand" summit shot is so 2010, we're thinking more of a Charlie's Angels pose for 2011. We'll see how it goes.

Most of the gang passed the afternoon at the local Nepali restaurant and stuffed ourselves with "mixed" momos (kind of like dumplings), french fries, tea and coffee. It was a nice way to pass the time, have a few laughs and watch the people and animals of Tingri pass by and also some dogs having a romantic moment. The group is actually getting on really well, lots of great people, good stories and good energy. Everyone seems to be acclimatizing well, listening to the leaders and staying positive.

Later in the evening we met for dinner and one of our members, Paul from South Africa, was recruited to help deal with some currently minor medical issues on other teams. He's a doctor working at Papua and was happy to offer what help he could. He was already called twice in Tingri. Thank you Paul !

Samdien, the cook for the Cho Oyu team also arrived this evening from Lhasa and we found Chimmy, the kitchen helper for Shishapangma, waiting outside the hotel today. He is a traditional Tibetan nomad with a million dollar smile who lives on the Tibetan plateau and hangs around Tingri for us to find him at expedition time. He's headed back to his home on his horse last night but we'll see him back here in time to head to base camp with us the day after tomorrow.

A few of us were reluctant to call it a night so early so we hung around in the hallways chit chatting, no doubt keeping other teams up and then moved the party into a room - not much of a party as everyone forget to bring beer and food, but a good opportunity to sit around, pass some time, learn a little more about each other and have some laughs before calling it a night.

Tomorrow we remain in Tingri to acclimatize. Thanks for following these dispatches! We all appreciate knowing our friends and families can follow along on our adventures and we'll do our best to get daily dispatches out but slight delays may happen due to technological challenges in Tibet. All the best.

Grace McDonald back to top



First view of Shishapangma from the Thong La Pass (Gary Kellund). Our Liaison officer laying down on the grass near Tingri (Gary Kellund). One of the hundred dogs in the streets of Tingri (Gary Kellund). Some of our Cho Oyu members at lunch in Tingri, 4300m (Vicen Jolis).

4 September, 2011

Hi, this is Max Kausch writing a dispatch for the Shishapangma and Cho Oyu expeditions autumn 2011.

We're currently in Nyalam, 3400m. Today was our 2nd acclimatization day and our members trekked to a 4300m ridge nearby. It is quite amazing considering that we only left Kathmandu yesterday. Everyone is feeling amazingly well and the team is getting on very well.

Unfortunately our Brazilian member, Bruno dos Anjos, had to leave Tibet early. He has reached Kathmandu today and will be flying to Brazil very soon. We will miss him very much. Take good care Bruno!

Both teams will move to Tingri tomorrow, which is at 4300m. We will spend 2 nights there and then the 2 teams will split up. Our Shishapangma staff is already on the way to BC and will set up our tents there.

We'll cross a 5200m pass tomorrow and will hopefully see Shishapangma for the first time. Also tomorrow, our teams will be able to see Cho Oyu from near Tingri. The views from there are amazing.

We will keep you updated as much as we can.

Thank you for following the news at

Max Kausch back to top



Momos, a traditional nepali dish. Team trekking above 4000m. Part of the team at 4300m. Having dinner in Nyalam,Tibet (Magnus Nerve).

3 September, 2011

Hi, this is Max Kausch writing a dispatch from Nyalam, Tibet.

Our Cho Oyu and Shishapangma expeditions left Kathmandu together this morning. Our trip to the Tibetan border was pretty impressive. We saw stunning landscapes and many Nepali rural houses. Amazingly we had no incidents on the way, such as landslides or road blockages.

Our members were looking very forward to finally crossing the Tibetan border. By 13:00 today we had lunch in Zhangmu, the first Tibetan city on our way to the mountains. We have 6 jeeps driving our members and staff plus one truck with our 3 thousand kilos of luggage. I'll write more news tomorrow and also send a few photos.

Thank you for following our expeditions!

Max Kausch back to top



  Typical scene on the streets of Kathmandu. A man carrying a sofa on his forehead! Our briefing meeting in Kathmandu yesterday. Members on their last minute equipment purchases in a shop in Kathmandu. The 4 hour bus ride to the Tibetan border today (Max Kausch).

31 August, 2011


The next couple of days we will finalize our packing for Cho Oyu. The first members will arrive tomorrow and the plan is to enter Tibet on Saturday. We have a nice expedition team from all over the world:

  • Arnold Coster - Netherlands (Expedition Leader)
  • Bruno Versiani Dos Anjos - Brazil
  • Richard Maybank - UK
  • Urs Walter Jaggi - Switzerland
  • Fergal Savage - Ireland
  • Ola Magnus Nerve - Sweden
  • Vicen Jolis - Spain
  • James Robson - UK
  • Paul Liebenberg - South Africa
  • Tenji Sherpa - Nepal (Climbing sherpa)
  • Lhakpa Gelbu Sherpa - Nepal (Climbimg sherpa)
  • Dawa Jangbu Sherpa - Nepal (Climbing sherpa)
  • Jangbu Sherpa - Nepal (Climbing sherpa)
  • Samdien Khompa - China (cook)

We're all looking forward to reaching the mountains again!

Stay tuned for more news,

Arnold Coster, Expedition leader back to top


Leaders and staff prepping equipment and supplies for the expedition at our storage facility in Kathmandu (Max Kausch).