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Climb Cho Oyu with Tenzing
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Feb 11, 2005 10: 08 EST
Jagged Globe mailed over a note that the April 2005 Cho Oyu Jagged Globe expedition will be led by Tashi Tenzing, grandson of Tenzing Norgay Sherpa of Everest fame. Tashi, who now lives in Sydney, Australia, has climbed Everest twice along with many other Himalayan peaks. He is also a motivational speaker and author.

Interesting first climb

This could be an interesting first 8000 meter climb, as Cho Oyu is the best option for a first 8000er. Another interesting part in the message is Jagged Globe's urge for experience before Everest. In later years, we've seen an increasing number of people arriving to the mountain without any altitude experience at all, counting on a sherpa or two and the existing fixed ropes to make an easy hike up the mountain.

Independence takes experience

Although we favor independent climbers at ExWeb, there is a big danger in independent inexperienced climbing. Altitude is not about technical climbing, altitude is a game entirely on its own and the only way to beat the odds is by experience. If you don't know what to expect when you're deprived of oxygen in the deathzone, you'll be playing Russian Roulette with your life. Check below Jagged Globe's take on how to do it right:

It's not about physical strength

"For many mountaineers, successfully climbing Everest is the ultimate goal, and it is easy to understand why. After all, what better way to demonstrate that you are at the pinnacle of your climbing career than to stand atop the highest mountain in the world? As is so often the case with the pursuit of life-long dreams, however, there is a danger that people may try to rush into the experience before they are really ready.

It may be that some individuals start climbing late in life and want to achieve their ambition whilst they are still physically robust enough, whilst for others the timing may be dependent upon financial considerations. Very occasionally we also see the individual for whom money is no object and for whom a successful ascent of Everest is nothing more than a status symbol, or the professional athlete who, despite having no mountaineering experience, assumes that they can successfully summit due to their high levels of fitness.

A very expensive trip to camp 1

Whatever your thoughts on such individuals attempting Everest, the reality remains that now and again people tackle the mountain before they are ready to do so. It is a little-known fact that every year, despite its commercial nature, Jagged Globe actually turns down people who want to climb Everest, for the simple reason that these potential clients simply do not have the necessary experience.

Jagged Globe Marketing Director Tom Briggs explains, 'I'm still taken aback by the number of people who phone me up and ask to join our Everest expedition, having climbed just Aconcagua for instance. Some of these people haven't even got much Alpine climbing experience. Often they're super fit and think that that's all they need to climb Everest. But after you talk to them in greater depth about what is involved in climbing this peak, they usually understand that they do need to gain far more big mountain experience before even contemplating Everest.'

'I tend to get them to set their sights on climbing one of the 'easier' 8,000ers such as Cho Oyu and to make a plan to work towards that goal, rather than getting too concerned at this stage with their ultimate dream - to climb the world's highest mountain. Unfortunately, you do get the odd person who isn't interested in your advice and will go to Everest anyway before they are anywhere near ready. At best they have a very expensive trip to camp 1 on the North Col.'

The need for experience

Only by building up your expertise, honing your personal skills and exposing yourself to the discomfort of increasingly higher altitudes are you likely to succeed on the 8,000m peaks. This is particularly true of Jagged Globe trips, since they do not offer ‘guided’ expeditions in the traditional sense.

Instead they prefer to run professionally led teams of competent mountaineers who already have enough experience to move between camps unsupervised and climb the world’s highest mountains without undue risk. This approach ensures that whilst team members still have a high level of support, including strong sherpa teams and experienced leaders, their chances of success are maximised without undermining the quality of their achievement.

The difference between 6,476m and 8,848m is immense

Deciding on exactly when you are ready for Everest is by no means easy. Even if you complete successful ascents of Denali (6,194m) in Alaska or Mera (6,476m) in Nepal, this does not mean that you are at an optimum state of readiness.

The difference between 6,476m and 8,848m is immense, not just in terms of altitude, but also in terms of the extra physical effort needed and the mental robustness required. The sensible approach therefore, common amongst many mountaineers, is to attempt a few of the lower 8,000m peaks first. All other considerations aside, if nothing else this makes financial sense.

Rather than risking large sums of money climbing Everest, only to find that your body can not adapt above 7,000m, why not risk considerably less money finding this out on one of the lower 8,000m peaks? After all, there are plenty to choose from in the Great Himalayan Range and Shishapangma, Broad Peak and Gasherbrum II all offer challenging climbs for the high altitude mountaineer. However, for anybody who ultimately has their sights set on Everest, Cho Oyu (pronounced choi oi-you) seems to be the proving ground of choice.

Thorough preparation is essential

Climbing an 8,000m peak is a tough test of endurance, both physically and psychologically. You need to make sure that you are in excellent physical condition and mentally robust enough to endure discomfort, if you are to have a realistic chance of reaching the summit.

On peaks of this height, it is not possible to safeguard team members’ every step, especially on summit day, so climbers also need to have considerable mountaineering experience, preferably at altitudes over 6,000m. Individuals who have completed ascents of peaks such as Huascaran, Island Peak, Illimani or Denali might well consider Cho Oyu, if they feel that they have the necessary commitment and determination to go the extra distance.


If you fit these criteria and are looking for somewhere to practise your skills and increase your exposure to altitude, then Cho Oyu offers a great opportunity. At US$11,950, not only is it considerably cheaper than an Everest trip, it is also significantly shorter. A typical expedition to Cho Oyu lasts around 44 days, and as such it is an enticing alternative for those who are not quite ready to commit to the 70 days required for climbing Everest."

Jagged Globe has been running trips to Cho Oyu since 1993, during which time they have led nine separate expeditions to the mountain. On each occasion team members successfully reached the summit, the only exception to this being in 2001, when snow conditions above 7,000m were assessed as being too dangerous. At that time, the risk of avalanche was high and the furthest point reached on the mountain was Camp 3.

That said, Jagged Globe has an excellent track record on this peak and is currently planning expeditions for departure in April and in August. As preparation for Everest, Cho Oyu remains the most popular 8,000er.

Feature prepared by travel writer, Simon Harris-Ward.
Images of Tashi Tenzing, courtesy of Jagged Globe.

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