P7 - You will be pushed physically to the limit and then beyond. Long and arduous preparation is required before this expedition. Expect to be carrying pack weights up to 25kg. Be prepared for very long, sustained days with hours well into double figures on a regular basis. Discomfort to achieve your goal is to be expected.
Visit our Grading Information page for a full overview.
T5 - Competent Alpine climbing ability. Should be comfortable on Scottish Winter III ground or Alpine AD. Complete understanding and confidence in use of your technical kit will be required.
Visit our Grading Information page for a full overview.
Date & Prices
Pics & Vids
Straddling the borders of Nepal & Tibet, Cho Oyu, at 8,201 m, is Earth’s sixth highest mountain. While it offers you a relatively uncomplicated ascent to the summit, it’s still a major challenge and a formidable stepping stone towards more 8000m mountains or Everest preparation. It was first climbed, though not summitted, by Edmund Hillary in 1952.
Getting to the foot of Cho Oyo is an adventure in itself through the heart of the wild, ancient lands of Tibet. It’s a windswept landscape dotted with Buddhist monasteries and vast plains over which nomadic yak herders still roam. No artist could hope to capture the ethereal beauty of the landscape as viewed from the summit of this enormous mountain. Everest lords it over hundreds of sharp summits in the Nepali Himalaya to the south and contrasts with the gentle rolling plains that stretch beyond the horizon to the north.
Our dedication to our clients is well illustrated by last season’s expedition where our guide and Sherpas summited twice in 24 hours to accompany team members to the top. Not only do we go above and beyond on summit day but plan every detail well in advance to assure a safe and successful expedition. Our support team is world class and our basecamp facilities modern and comfortable.Find out more
Date & Prices
Departure & Return
Price (excl. flight)
Price (incl. flight)
Start: 12 April 2018
End: 27 May 2018
Price without flights:
Price with flights: $22,500
12 April 2018
27 May 2018
Start: 28 August 2018
End: 13 October 2018
Price without flights:
Price with flights: $23,500
28 August 2018
13 October 2018
- International airfares
- 360 Leader and Porters
- Sherpa and summit Sherpa
- All road transfers
- All hotel accommodation as detailed based on two people sharing
- Climbing permits
- National park fees
- All group camping equipment
- All food whilst on the trek and meals when city based as detailed in the itinerary
- Oxygen mask, regulator and sufficient gas
- Drinks in restaurants
- Personal gear for trekking and climbing
- Tips for local crew
- Summit bonus for your high-altitude Sherpa
- Visas where applicable
- Trip insurance
- Items of a personal nature: phone calls, laundry, room service, etc.
- Unscheduled hotel nights
- Any additional costs associated with leaving the expedition early including any airline surcharges as a result of changing return airline tickets
*ANY INCREASE IN PERMIT COST FROM 2017 TO 2018 – You will be asked to pay this increase (if any) as a supplement nearer to departure.
Pics & Vids
DAY 1 : Depart UK
Today we will depart London and fly to Kathmandu.
DAY 2 : Arrive Kathmandu
On arrival into Kathmandu you’ll be met by an amazing blend of cultures, religions and people as you are taken to your hotel located in the heart of the city. During the day you’ll have an opportunity to settle after your flight before the evening which will entail a comprehensive brief by your 360 Expedition Guide on the climb you are about to experience with a meal at a local restaurant.
DAY 3 : Expedition Preparation
Final expedition preparations will continue, these will involve signing paperwork that will have been prepared by your leader, collecting any last minute items, packing your kit into barrels and sorting out all your expedition food. Your mountain equipment, camping equipment and high altitude food will be loaded into trucks and travel separately to basecamp.
DAY 4-5 : Enter Tibet- Zhangmu (1,600m)
In the morning we depart early from Kathmandu to the Tibetan border at Kadari (720m) where we’ll complete border formalities. Once complete we then drive to Zhangmu (1,600m) and stay overnight in a hotel. Today the wheels begin to turn towards Cho Oyu – we board the minibuses with some members of our Sherpa climbing team carrying only our day to day luggage for the next week. The journey through Nepal to the Tibetan border is full of colour as we pass through small villages, allowing a quick glimpse into the life of the Himalayan people. Later, we’ll cross a bridge called the “Friendship” bridge spanning the Bota Kosi River which marks the border where you walk into Tibet through Chinese customs and immigration. After formalities have been completed we meet our Chinese liaison officer and board a minivan to the town of Zhangmu (remember to reset your watch forward by 2½ hrs). Here we stay the night at our hotel.
DAY 6-7 : Zhangmu - Naylam (3,700m)
As we enter Tibet the open rolling barren hills that typify this vast Himalayan plateau become apparent and is distinctly different from the tropical Nepali foothills. We’ll stay two nights in Naylam in a basic Tibetan hotel. Like all small towns in Tibet, these dusty settlements are basic and transient. The main aim of our stay here is to acclimatise which will see us climbing the hilltops around the town (to about 4,000m) and explore some of the Buddhist gompas.
DAY 8-9 : Naylam - Tingri (4,300m)
Today we continue to cross the Tibetan plateau to the town of Tingri. The nomadic lifestyle of the ethnic Tibetans becomes apparent as we see several tented camps on the way. The highlight however for all will be the first glimpse of our objective: Cho Oyu, as well as Shishapangma (8,013m) and Mount Everest (8,848m). Tingri itself only has one main road which makes it easy to find our local hotel that despite appearances serves great food. Like our stay in Naylam our primary reason for staying here is to aid our acclimatisation process. Once again we’ll climb to some of the local hilltops (4,700m) and visit the ruins of an old fort where breathtaking views of the 3 giants can be seen, as well as several other mountains straddling the Nepal / Tibet border.
DAY 10 : Drive to Chinese Base Camp (5,200m)
Today we continue our climb to the Chinese Base Camp (CBC) of Cho Oyu where the road ends. This camp is not going to be our permanent Base Camp but one where we further acclimatise and sort out the yak teams that will bring our equipment and expedition provisions to Advanced Base Camp at 5,700m.
DAY 11-12 : Rest and acclimatisation day
Rest and acclimatisation at Chinese Base Camp.
DAY 13 : Chinese Base Camp - Middle Camp (5,300m)
Today we move from Chinese Base Camp to Middle Camp (5,300m).
DAY 14 : Middle Camp - Advanced Base Camp (5,700m)
Trek from Middle Camp to the Advanced Base Camp (5,700m).
DAY 15-17 : Rest and acclimatisation period
Your guide will conduct several skill courses to refresh your glacier travel and jumarring skills and to sort out your climbing equipment.
DAY 18-41 : Climbing Cho Oyu
Climbing Cho Oyu The climbing strategy below is only an example of how a “typical” acclimatisation and climbing regime might work on Cho Oyu. A climber’s fitness, mountain and weather conditions will dictate the ascent profile, and from which high camp our summit attempt will be made. About a month is given on this expedition to climb the mountain.
The climbing route follows up the northwest face and the broad northwest ridge. Cho Oyu is not a technically difficult mountain and the majority of terrain does not exceed 30 degrees. However, there is a very steep serac barrier at 6,600m that is bypassed on fixed rope.
There are three established campsites on the mountain. Camp 1 (C1) is situated on a broad saddle at the base of the northwest ridge at 6,400m. Getting here involves crossing a flat glacier and a scree covered hill. Camp 2 (C2) is at 7,000m and Camp 3 (C3) is placed at 7,400m on the northwest ridge. Traditionally the summit attempt is made from C3 but recently teams have managed to summit from C2 in seven to ten hours.
A typical climbing and acclimatisation strategy would look like this:
- Climb to Camp 1 at 6,200m and return to ABC
- Rest-day in ABC
- Climb to and camp at C1. Climb to C2 at 7,000m the next day and return to ABC
- Several days rest at ABC
- Climb to and camp at C2. Climb to C3 at 7,400m Next day return to ABC
- Several days rest at ABC
- Climb to and camp at C1
- Climb to and camp at C2
- Climb to and camp at C3
- Summit day
- Descend to ABC
DAY 42 : Return journey
We dismantle ABC and trek down to middle camp. From here we drive to Tingri where we spend the night.
DAY 43 : Tingri - Zhangmu
A long drive today from Tingri to Zhangmu (six hours) where we spend the night in a hotel.
DAY 44 : Zhangmu - Kathmandu
An early morning drive to the Nepali border where we go through some immigration formalities and continue onwards to Kathmandu.
DAY 45 : Kathmandu
Rest day in Kathmandu and with most likely some fairly wild celebrations.
DAY 46 : Depart for UK
We say goodbye to Nepal and head for the airport for our flight home.
DAY 47 : Arrive UK
If we’re on the night flight, we’ll be back in London this morning.
These are subject to minor changes depending on flight arrival and departure times, weather, group dynamics and fitness and so on, but the itinerary outlined provides an excellent indication of the expedition and what you will experience.
Bags & Packs
We normally pack all our equipment in two large duffel bags (90-120L capacity). Make sure they are well labeled with indelible ink as well as a travel tag. The duffels go on the trek/climb with you and will be carried by porters and yaks. Expect for them to get wet and muddy, so rugged, waterproof tarpaulin duffels are good. Bags with wheels are nice for the airport, but the porters and yaks don’t like to carry them, so don’t bring wheeled bags (or at least not two of them)
Medium size internal frame pack (60 – 80L capacity). Look for a pack that is comfortable to carry, very durable, as light as is reasonable and one which has a minimum number of gadgets and fripperies to break
A smaller rucksack makes a great carry-on bag for your flight and is useful during the trek for smaller walks on acclimatisation days, or once back in town
Nylon rolltop bags (or even just large plastic bags) that keep fresh clothing and other important items like passports and iPods dry in the event of a total downpour that seeps into your kitbag. Good for quarantining old socks
Small kit bag or light bag
This is for any kit you intend to leave at the hotel and could even simply be a heavy duty plastic bag
For use on your kit bag for travel and on the expedition plus your hotel bag
5 Season sleeping bag
5-season sleeping bag with a comfort rating of -40C is essential. Down is lighter but more expensive than synthetic and ratings vary between manufacturers
Lighter rated sleeping bag
Lighter rated sleeping bag (-15C) for BC
A full length self-inflating rather than ¾ length Thermarest
Sleeping bag liner
These liners can be fleece or silk. They can increase the warmth of the sleeping bag and help to keep it clean
This can be a warm hat, beanie, balaclava, anything to reduce the heat loss from your head
Wide brimmed hat
Keeps the sun off exposed areas like ears and the nape of the neck
Category 4 wrap around style is highly recommended. These sunglasses allow for the highest available protection against harmful UV light found at altitude and from glare from snow and sand surfaces. Worth spending money on good UV filters
For contact lens wearers, ski goggles with light color lenses (for use at night) might be useful in windy conditions. Ski goggles are essential for all climbers in really stormy conditions and can serve as an emergency back up for broken or lost sunglasses
Essential for protection from the sun and dust
Buy the highest SPF you can find as altitude intensifies the UV. Use tubes small enough to fit in your pocket for regular reapplication or consider high factor single application
Sunscreen generally doesn’t work on your lips so it’s important to also have high factor lipsalve
This is the layer closest to the skin and its principal function is to draw (wick) moisture and sweat away from the skin. You can also get thermal base layers for use at higher altitudes that provide an additional insulative layer while still drawing sweat during times of high exertion
These are typically lightweight microfleeces or similar technology that provide varying degrees of warmth and insulation without being overly bulky or heavy to pack
Optional – A great low volume additional layer to keep your core warm, whether down, primaloft or fleece
A good Goretex Hardshell jacket with sealed seams provides effective defence against wind and rain as your outermost layer. This should be big enough to fit over your other layers
Light insulated jacket
A lighter jacket such as a Primaloft or lightweight down which can be worn at lower to mid altitudes is a great addition to your kit offering greater flexibility with layering
These provide the best insulation and are worth every penny. They will keep you warm down to around -25C with a couple of layers underneath, the higher the ‘loft’ the better. Our guides usually wear a lighter down or Primaloft jacket under their down jackets for greater layering
These should be windproof (not all are) and insulative. They are mostly made of soft polyester and sometimes resemble a neoprene finish which makes them very mobile and comfortable to wear. While offering a degree of weather repellence, they are not waterproof
Polartec or windproof fleece. Leather or abrasion resistant palms handle the fixed lines better. Leather gloves or good abrasion resistant climbing glove for the rock sections
Ski or climbing gloves
A warm insulated glove with leather palm will be worn a lot
A great addition to fit over your down mitts high up or gloves lower down for an added windproof or waterproof layer, especially as down ceases to work when it gets wet and takes a long time to dry. Synthetic fill
High altitude down mitts
Worn over liners for summit days on all 6,000m plus expeditions. Mitts provide more warmth than finger gloves. For extreme cold down or prima loft fill is recommended
It is highly recommended to wear a full down suit, rather than a combination of a down jacket and trousers for summit day
These tend to be polyester so they dry quickly after a shower and weigh little in your pack. Consider perhaps a pair with detachable lower legs as an alternative to shorts
Softshell windproof or thermal lined mid weight trekking trousers can be worn with thermal leggings OR Primaloft over a pair of thermal leggings are both good options for higher altitudes. All depends on your budget
Waterproof overtrousers or salopettes – like the jacket, an essential piece of kit to stay dry and should also be Goretex or breathable, to fit over your summit trousers if needed
For summit day – or a full down suit
Longjohns, to be worn underneath trekking trousers or thicker trousers for high up
Merino or wicking material, not cotton. How many pairs you take is entirely up to you
High altitude boots
Essential on all our high altitude expeditions as they are the only way to avoid frostbite. Commonly known as ‘plastics’ these boots are double or triple layered to offer the best insulation and the warmest feet up high. Ranging from Scarpa Phantom 8000 to Millet Everest to La Sportiva Olympus Mons depending on your budget. Make sure that your boots fit with 2 pairs of socks for added warmth and with room to wiggle your toes. Avoid trying to break in the boots by training in them, they will break you! Wear them around the house to get used to the weight and feel instead
To protect the tops of your footwear from harsh conditions and to provide some added insulation
3-4 season walking boots
To use for your trek at lower altitudes. 3-4 season waterproof boots with mid to high ankle support and should be well worn in before the expedition
Single layer or wearing 2 pairs is a personal choice and lighter weight merino wool is a good option
High altitude socks
These socks are a grade heavier than mountaineering socks and can be thick wool or the modern trend is to build in primaloft barriers around the toes etc. Save a clean pair for summit day
High altitude inner socks
Lighter weight inner socks, Merino wool is advisable
Just in case
A plastic helmet is more suitable rather than the expanded foam helmets available. Make sure you try it on in a shop with a woolly/fleece hat underneath
Make sure the buckle is easy for you to thread in cold conditions! Gear loops will be useful for this trip as well as adjustable leg
Carabiners & prussik loops
Large locking HMS pear shaped carabiners
Left or right handed depending on your preference. One to use and one as a spare
Figure of 8
Figure of 8 descender
Back up descending device
1.5m of 5mm cord. To be used as a prusik loop
12 point mountaineering crampons with anti-balling plates that fit your specific plastic boots (not ice climbing crampons)
A walking ice axe between 55cm and 65cm. Go to an outdoor shop and try different ones for weight and size so that you get one that feels good to you
Essential for high up the mountain when we are load carrying as well as descending
3L equivalent – a good combination is a Platypus/Camelbak plus 2 x 1L Nalgene bottles. Platypus for use before the water starts to freeze at higher camps!
Purification tablets are better than any other system. Highly unlikely to be needed. Always good to have in your bag
A great addition for hot drinks at the higher camps
Small thermal flask
May be nice on summit night when it’s cold
Pee bottle (+ optional Shewee for the girls!)
A good idea if you are storm bound at higher camps. A 1ltr Nalgene bottle is a good option but do make sure you label it appropriately!
Travel towels from the likes of Lifesystems are perfect
These are great for washing when modern shower facilities become a thing of the past
A must have for good camp hygiene
Provided on the mountain but a spare in your daysack may be useful if you need to hide behind a rock between camps
Nappy sacks or dog poo bags
Only needed to bag your toilet paper if you are caught short in between camps and for keeping your rubbish tidy in your tent
For early stages and once back down
Keep it simple on the mountain. Essentials are toothbrush, toothpaste and deodorant. Moisturiser is advisable, everything else is a luxury!
Personal first aid kit
Blister patches, plasters, antiseptic, painkillers; (see FAQ’s)
Keep this in your daysack
Bring plenty of spare batteries and memory cards. The mountain can be dusty to some sort of camera protective bag is advisable
Bring spare batteries
You will be fed very well and given snacks each day however we advise bringing a small selection as a little bit of comfort. For summit night it always good to have a few extra chunky bars for that extra boost. Energy gels and protein bars are not suitable
Hand and foot warmers
For summit day
Don’t forget this! Your passport should have at least 6 months validity. With your passport expiry date at least six months after the final day of travel.
Copy of passport
Just in case
Passport photos x 4
We need these to obtain your climbing and trekking permits
For Nepal, a visa can either be obtained from the Nepalese Embassy in London or on arrival at Kathmandu airport. Costs are: 30 days – $40 and 90 days – $100. Non UK residents should check with the Nepalese Embassy. For your Chinese visa, please contact the office for the most recent information
Dental Check up
We recommend you have a dental check-up before your trip. New fillings can be an issue at altitude if there is an air pocket left in the gap
We recommend you take around $400 – $500 onto the mountain in small denominations to tip the Sherpa team. Plus about $200 for any extras along the way, satellite phone calls etc.
Copy of own travel insurance details – And relevant contact numbers. Please ensure you have appropriate insurance for your intended trip to include medical evacuation and coverage up to an altitude of 8,200m
What is the leading team composed of? Climber to Sherpa ratio?
Our guides are mountain professionals. They not only have years of relevant training and the most up-to-date qualifications but have many years of field experience. Our guides and expeditions leaders’ sole occupation is mountain and expedition work and they are paid industry wages. When it comes to summit day you can be assured that your 360 guide or expedition leader will make professional decisions and your safety will not be compromised by personal ambition or lack of experience. On your Cho Oyu expedition you will have one 360 leader (company director) who has overall control of the expedition. He runs the expedition in close consultation with the local experts, the 360 Nepali team. Together they will formulate the safest and best strategy of producing a successful expedition. This expedition has a 2:1 ratio – for the actual mountain phase to the high camp (2 clients per 1 climbing Sherpa). For the summit bid this ratio increases to 1:1.
The 360 leader is not part of the ratio, he will be with you in addition to your climbing Sherpas for the entire mountain phase and summit bid. The additional Sherpa support and their huge level of experience means that you will be safe, and that at no point on the mountain will you ever have to carry more than what you need for that day. All your camping and incidental equipment is transported between camps by our Sherpa team.
Food and Water
Where does the drinking water come from?
For the first day and motorised phase of the trek to ABC bottled drinking water will be used. At the higher camps we will use locally sourced drinking water from ice-streams and glaciers. We increase water purity by treating the water with purification chemicals or by boiling it. We try to ensure the water is as pure as possible.
How often is fresh water available for refilling during a typical trekking and climbing day?
Before leaving camp in the morning you will fill your water bottles or camelbak. If this runs low you will have ample more water to replace it with. For most walking days water can be replenished at the lunchtime site. On the mountain the rehydration process starts the minute you get into camp. In Nepal and Tibet soft drinks can be bought at some of the lodges encountered on the route.
Will I have to share a tent on this expedition?
You will have your own tent in base camp, but on the mountain, you will be sharing a tent with others. We generally book you into a twin shared room in the hotel in Kathmandu, and it is twin share in the lodges on the trek. A single supplement is available on request. Please contact our office for further details. Most altitude related symptoms manifest themselves at night. We therefore recommend tent sharing at altitude. Tent share is always organised according to similar sex and where possible age groups. Obviously if climbing this mountain with a friend or partner then you will be able to share tents, and if you’re a group we’ll ask you your preference. If you have joined the team by yourself then it is highly likely that you will be sharing a tent with your pre-assigned room buddy unless prior arrangements have been made.
We use high quality 3 man tents to be shared between 2 people to provide extra space for your comfort and gear.
What facilities do you have at base camp, I understand we might be there for quite a while?
Base camp is not a very hospitable place, but we strive to make you as comfortable as possible whilst we are storm-bound, acclimatising or waiting for conditions to become safe. Our mess tents are heated with gas heaters and a generator provides power for light and recharging electrical appliances. You will be given your own tent for the duration of your time at base camp so for down days you can chill out in your own space. We encourage you to take along books, (to swap and add to the exciting expedition library), personal music systems, and games to pass away the times. Plus our base camp staff cook up a storm themselves! The meals are varied and cater for everyone’s taste and are something to look forward to. Usually there are other teams sharing the BC and route with us and great friendships can be made by introducing yourself to these other teams.
What if I arrive early or depart late? Can you arrange extra night lodging? Is there a single room option for this expedition?
We are happy to make any arrangements scheduled outside of the trek dates; these might include personalised tours, extra hotels rooms, private airport pick-ups or arranging private rooms. Please indicate that your requirements on your booking form and we will contact you with the relevant arrangements.
Health and Safety
What happens if there is a problem on the mountain?
All our leaders are in communication with each other by phone and radio. In the vast majority of cases of emergency rescue the problems can be attributed to slow acclimatisation or altitude and if so the solution is immediate descent to lower altitudes. Our 360 Nepal crew is very experienced in dealing with any problems that may arise. Our leaders posses the highest standard of wilderness first aid and can handle emergencies to the highest level of competency.
What happens if I need to leave the expedition early?
If a climber needs to leave early arrangements can be made with the assistance our 360 Leader. Additional costs (transport, hotels, flights etc.) will be incurred by the climber but our 360 team will be able to assist in every detail of your departure.
What type of communication is available on the expedition?
Our leader will have a satellite phone and this is kept charged using solar power. For a small fee you can use them for calls home. On the mountain all team members will be provided with a small lightweight Motorola radio to stay in communication with other team members. Mobile phones will only work for a small period of time on the beginning of the trek in.
What weather report service do you use?
Our team has access to sophisticated weather forecasting services. We use Bracknell and Swiss forecasts for daily forecasts received from HQ in Europe. Our summit bid is aided enormously by totally up-to-date reliable forecasts.
Do we use oxygen for this expedition?
Every team member will be allocated plenty of oxygen for summit day that consists of two bottles and a top of the range delivery system that is the most current and efficient way to provide high altitude climbers with O2 and is used by all leading climbers on the big peaks.
You advocate taking a small first aid kit, what should it have in it?
We advocate a little bit of self-help on the trek. If you have a blister developing for example then please stop take off your boot and treat it before it becomes a problem.
Your own first aid kit should contain: A basic blister kit, plasters, antiseptic, sun-protection, your own personal medication (sometimes your porter might get to camp after you and if he is carrying your medication you may not be able to take it according to the regime you are used to), basic pain relief (aspirin and Ibuprofen), a personal course of antibiotics if prone to illness etc. Foot powder in your socks every morning is great for preventing blisters.
Generally the best approach to take when packing your first aid kit is to include such basic medications as if you would on a family or personal holiday.
Your 360 expedition leader and / or climbing Sherpa carries a very comprehensive first aid kit which contains a wide range of supplies and medications. The entire expedition support team is fully trained to use whatever is needed for any emergency that may arise. We advocate keeping this in mind when packing your own first aid supplies and keeping your own FA kit as compact and light as possible.
Do I need to take Malarial drugs?
Our leaders don’t take anti-malarials with them as they don’t perceive there to be a risk. The Malaria protozoa generally do not survive over an altitude of 1,500m so once we have started the trek malaria poses no threat. When visiting the lowland regions of Nepal or going to India after this expedition it may be advisable to seek advice about if and when to take the malarial prophylactics. When visiting these places the chances of contracting malaria can be reduced by standard precautions such as sleeping under mosquito nets, applying insect repellent and wearing long sleeve shirts and trousers.
We recommend that you visit your local doctor before departure to get the latest advice, MASTA Travel Health clinics, or many larger local hospitals have travel clinics.
What gear will I need?
Please review the equipment list. While all items are required there may be times when some of the items on the gear list may not be used (such as warm weather or changing conditions). The gear lists are created by the guides to so that climbers are prepared to summit in any conditions.
What clothing should I wear on this expedition?
The cost of equipment, particularly at this level, can be a major deterrent for people coming onto trips in the first place. However by this stage you should have a reasonable quantity of gear off the kit list anyway. Alternatively things you don’t have can be hired cost-effectively from our partners at Outdoor Hire – www.outdoorhire.co.uk
Our leaders usually start the trek wearing long, lightweight trekking trousers and wicker (non-cotton) shirts. Long trousers are recommended as a deterrent to insects and to act as sun protection. Shorts can also be worn on the initial few days of the trek as the temperature is usually warm. Ensure that you apply sun protection frequently. Sunglasses are worn for most of the trek in as well as sunhats.
The prevailing conditions on the trek will dictate what you will wear: if it is cold when you leave the camp in the morning then wear your base layer plus soft-shell. As things warm up take advantage of the zipper system which most trekking clothing have and open and /or close the zips to adjust to your own preferred temperature. If you get too warm then take a layer off.
Waterproofs are needed on hand especially during the acclimitisation phase of the expedition. Cho Oyu is a huge mountain that creates its own weather system. It is not unusual to be caught out in an afternoon rainstorm low down on the mountain. Waterproofs should be Gortex material or similar.
What do your guides wear on summit day?
On summit day it gets cold and temperatures of -30C are not unusual. Typically our guides wear 2 sets of base layers (long johns), a mid-layer (top and bottom) and thin down gillet on the torso. Over the top of this a heavy fill down jacket is worn and on the legs down over-trousers. (or a complete down suit). To further ward of the wind chill a wind suit (thin Gortex shell) could be considered.
On their hands they’ll wear a thin layer of fleece working gloves over which a thicker set of gloves are worn. Over the top of these two layers a large set of mittens (down recommended) is worn. Hand warmers are also recommended.
Their heads are covered by a thermal “beanie” hat or a thick balaclava and the hood of their down jackets. On their feet the guides wear one thin sock and one thick sock. Foot warmers recommended.
Over the top of your clothing you will wear a climbing harness and you will be attached to a rope for high passes/summit day.
On summit day your guides will also wear snow goggles.
What is the best type of footwear to use for the trek to base camp?
Trekking boots can be worn as high as camp one. Because of the huge variety of terrain encountered on the trekking phase it is very important to wear the right footwear. Trekking boots should be sturdy, waterproof, insulated against cold temperatures and offer adequate ankle support. In addition it is highly recommended that your boots are well worn in to prevent the formation of blisters.
A range of suitable boots are on the market and further advice as to which brand names are available can be found online or at your local gear store.
Double plastic boots with over gaiters are essential for climbing 8,000m peaks. You will only be using your plastic boots for the mountain phase of this trek. These boots should have a soft inner and hard plastic outer shell; the basic model would be Scarpa Phantom 8000 or the Millet equivalent. Temperatures high on the mountain are usually well below -30 C and only double plastic boots can withstand such conditions. Ensure that you have tried the boots on before you leave home and that you can wear a thin and a thick pair of socks in them and still be able to wriggle your toes to encourage circulation.
Crampons are worn for the majority of the time you spend above C1 and for the actual summit day itself. Your crampons should preferably be of the easy “heel clip” variety (rather than the strap systems which are fiddly). It is not necessary to use specialist technical climbing crampons as standard 12 point all round crampons such as those from Grivel will do the job very well.
What do the porters carry? What is the correct porter weight?
Your porter bags should be of a soft material “duffel bag” or rucksack variety and should not be a suitcase or hardbodied metal case. Furthermore they should only weigh around 12 kg when packed for the acclimitisation phase of the climb. On all our high altitude expeditions we have found this weight to be ample and usually everybody can plan to take only enough clothes and equipment needed for the limited time spend at the higher camps. Please bear in mind that on top of your load, porters will also have to carry a share of the food, kitchen equipment, camping equipment and their own survival gear. Your Sirdar and expedition leader will organise the loads and number of porters needed to move your equipment up and down the mountain for you.
Inside the porter bag should be a change of clothing, your clothing for higher up the mountain, a sleeping mat (thermarest), sleeping bag, personal toiletries etc. (see equipment list).
How warm does my sleeping bag need to be?
Sleeping bags should be rated within the -25 C to -30 C comfort rating. From around base camp upwards it is not unusual to experience frosty nights and a good night’s sleep is important to giving you the best chance to climb this mountain. Ensure you get a sleeping bag that has this temperature rating at this comfort rating rather than as its extreme rating. A 5 season bag will deliver this warmth comfortably. The warmth of a 4-season sleeping bag can be enhanced by using an inner silk or fleece liner (or similar). Some clients have found the use of a Gortex bivouac bag to increase the warmth of their bag.
For higher on the mountain your down equipment will be worn inside your sleeping bag. The modern thinking about sleeping bags on the 8,000m peaks is to use a “light” bag rated to about -20C comfort rating and to wear your down clothing whilst sleeping. It is important to remember that down sleeping bags work by your own body heating the down that’s inside the bag. Once you have warmed up the bag the down will retain the heat and ensure that you sleep at a temperature that’s your own body temperature.
What clothing is suitable for when we come back from the mountain?
Kathmandu is at a relatively low altitude and daytime temperatures are warm. When in Rome do as the Romans. Shorts and T-shirts are fine to wear during the course of the day. Evening wear generally tends to be casual with long trousers and casual shirt appropriate for all hotels and restaurants. Nepalese and Tibetans are generally quite conservative in their dress code and are generally well dressed despite their situation in life. Your town and party clothes can be left in a safe lock up at the hotel and do not need to be taken up the mountain.
Why choose 360 Expeditions for this 8,000m expedition?
The company directors joining you on this expedition are professional mountaineers and have a background in leading expeditions of this nature that is world class.
The other most important reason for choosing 360 is that we work closely with our Sherpa and Nepali team with whom we have enjoyed a successful decade of climbing. These guys are quite simply the best in the business. The people looking after you will not only have climbed the mountain before but will have an experience of 8,000m expeditions that is unsurpassed. The Sirdar (head Sherpa guide) and our climbing Sherpas typically have more than a dozen 8,000m expeditions, several of which are Everest ascents, under their belts.
Why climb with the directors of 360 Expeditions?
Rolfe (who will be leading) to date has been on over sixty expeditions to 6,000m peaks, five to 7,000m peaks and five to 8,000m peaks. (Everest twice, Manaslu, Lhotse and Cho Oyu). He has also been climbing mountains in some of the most remote places in the world for more than 25 years.
Raj, supporting in the UK, has summited Cho Oyo and Mount Everest with his own self-sufficient expeditions and has completed the coveted 7 Summits. On six out of these seven he has worked in a leadership capacity and on Mount Everest he acted as the expedition medical officer.
Our directors are keen to pass on their hard-earned knowledge to you, allowing you to come back from this expedition with not just a summit “tick” but more importantly with a huge amount of mountain know-how learnt and practiced. They know how to cope with the demands of high altitude and will handle the logistics and decision making on your expedition based on a very thorough level of experience.
Their job is to oversee the entire expedition from start to finish and to actively be there for you on the summit bid. We do not run a “facilitated” expedition where our climbers are provided with oxygen and Sherpas and left to their own devices.
What experience should I have before I attempt this climb?
From a technical point of view you ideally need to be comfortable on the equivalent of Alpine AD or Scottish winter III grade terrain. There is little technical terrain on Cho Oyu and all steep sections are fixed for your safety with fixed line, however having been exposed to steep terrain prior to this expedition will allow you to climb more securely and safely in demanding high altitude conditions. Your attitude and level of fitness are equally important.
Climbing an 8,000m peak can be mentally as well as physically challenging. Anyone climbing this mountain needs to have a focus and determination to succeed which should stem from your passion for climbing. You will spend a long time on expedition and everyone will have their ‘off days’. It is especially during these periods, when the going gets tough, that your mental strength and determination will help you cope with the rigors of high altitude expeditions. Of course it goes without saying that the fitter you are the stronger you should be on the mountain.
Building up as much endurance as possible before the climb is key. Ideally training involves “long days on the hill” for many months prior to the expedition. Moreover, you would have also developed a good amount of high altitude experience previously by spending a few seasons climbing on 6,000m peaks or higher. Typical examples of peaks to have climbed before Cho Oyu include Mera Peak, Island Peak or ideally Aconcagua.
What is the risk in climbing this peak?
The very nature of climbing an 8,000m peak is risky. Although there are risks associated with climbing any mountain whether it is Kilimanjaro, Mont Blanc or Aconcagua, the risks on an 8,000m peak are considerably greater primarily due to extreme altitude and weather conditions. Physical, mental and technical preparation will go a long way towards a safe ascent. Furthermore, our Western guides and climbing Sherpas are trained in the use of medical oxygen, Gamow bags and specialized wilderness first aid equipment and medicine which we take on all our itineraries. We also carry satellite phones and radios to ensure proper communications with the outside world and between camps. In fact we are often the first port of call when other teams have an emergency on the mountain!
How fit do I need to be for this expedition?
Climbers are expected to be in the best physical condition of their lives. The better your physical shape the more you will be able to handle the demands of climbing the peak. This expedition is more arduous and physically demanding than most 360 expeditions as the duration and altitude gained is much higher. Having a good level of fitness will allow you to enjoy the expedition far more and increase your chances of reaching the summit. Summit day can be up to 20 hours long.
How many climbers are on this expedition?
Rarely more than 8. Typically a group has between 4 to 6 climbers. We advocate small teams on expeditions such as Cho Oyu as this enhances stronger bonds between individual climbers and our local support team as well as developing essential team spirit. The other big plus is that being on a small team allows our leaders and Sherpa to get to know you better and hence provide you with more attention and assistance should you need it.
Who will be my other team members?
Your fellow team members will have similar experience and ambitions to you. Our criteria for joining this expedition is that you have been to altitude before and have sufficient technical ability to cope with the terrain encountered on the mountain. Your teammates may come from a wide variety of backgrounds and will have different interests but the common ground is that you have all got what it takes to be on this expedition. In the past a great cast of characters have led to our expeditions being made all the more enjoyable. Lifelong friendships have always developed by this shared experience.
How long is a typical day on the mountain?
The lengths of the days during the climbing phase of the expedition vary. Some camps are closer together or the conditions may be slower going. At the beginning of the expedition, the days will seem longer but as you get more acclimatised and adjusted to the regime, the days go quicker. Average days can be 5 – 10 hours long. Summit day can be up to 20 hours long. A good break will be had after every big day out to allow you to adjust.
This is a typical profile of work / rest on an 8,000m peak
- Arrive at base camp, rest for a few days
- Climb camp 1 and descend to base camp
- Climb camp 1, spend the night and next day descend to base camp
- Several rest days at base camp
- Climb to Camp 1 sleep here, continue to Camp 2 next day and spend two nights before descending to base camp
- Several rest days at base camp
- Climb to camp 2 sleeps here. Next day continue to Camp 3 and spend one or two nights before descending to base camp
- Several rest days at base camp
- You should now by fit and acclimatised so with suitable weather and conditions the next time up could be a summit push. Either sleeping at each camp or by climbing to camp 2 directly from base camp
Can you describe a typical Summit day?
Summit day is the culmination of a lot of hard work and effort from both you and the 360 team. Together we strive to make sure that we are as well rested, hydrated and nourished before we attempt the summit.
We’ll set out in the early morning from either C2 or C3 and we’ll have the option of climbing using supplementary oxygen to assist with the demands of altitude and cold. Just above C3 we cross several short rock sections known as the “Yellow Band” and some mixed snow conditions, before stepping onto the huge plateau that defines the summit of the mountain at around 8,000 meters. We’ll then cross the plateau to a small summit dome that indicates the true summit usually marked by many prayer flags at 8,201m. Hopefully, we have done it!
We are now standing on the world’s sixth highest mountain and are rewarded for our efforts by a vista few people will have had the privilege to enjoy. Around us towers Cho Oyu’s fellow giants, Mt Everest, Lhotse, Makalu – we’ll be able to see well into Nepal’s Khumbu valley. A few photos and a hug from our team mates mark our time spent on the summit before taking our first steps back down the mountain.
Would it be ok if my family or friends come along on the trekking part of this trek?
The trek to Cho Oyu ABC offers a glimpse into quintessential Tibet. It encompasses a fantastic blend of culture, amazing views and provides a good insight into traditional Tibetan life as well as what a true Himalayan expedition is all about. Of course it would be great to share this experience with your family and friends and we fully encourage you to do so.
What is the best time of year to climb in Tibet?
The best time to climb in Tibet is March to May and September to November. The later time frame is generally clear but colder with snow conditions more stable. The usual weather patterns that previously occurred with great predictability are changing however and it is not unusual to experience short spells of weather that is unprecedented.
Where do I meet my leader?
Most will have been on an expedition with our leaders before. Their professionalism as well as personality seems to be the reason why we have such a high return rate. For an expedition of this nature we will be holding a pre-expedition meeting where you will not only get a chance to meet your fellow team members but also your leaders. This meeting is usually held over a weekend and will be an informal way to ask questions and sort out expedition equipment details. Naturally, you’ll be having a beer or two with your expedition team.
What is the best air route to my destination?
Detailed flight information will be sent to you upon registration. We are ATOL bonded and ensure the most direct route with a reputable airline. Please let us know when booking if you wish to make your own travel arrangements to and from Kathmandu or if you wish to travel on different dates.
What travel insurance should I take for an expedition of this nature?
Comprehensive expedition insurance is now available from various insurers. We recommend looking into deals offered by the BMC and Austrian Alpine Club or similar insurers. Team members should take out private insurance that covers you against cancellation due to medical or personal reasons and it is important that the insurance contains coverage for medical evacuations by helicopter or other means.
Entry into Country
Are there any entry or Visa requirements?
Visas are compulsory for entry into Nepal for all foreign nationals. Although these can be acquired relatively easily at the border (Kathmandu international airport and all land borders) for a fee of $40 USD, we recommend that you contact your nearest Nepali embassy (call 360 for details) to avoid queuing, unnecessary delays and potential clearance problems. Passports must be valid for 6 months. Contact the office for the latest information about obtaining your Chinese visa.
Tips on how a climber can maximise their chances of success - part 1
The 360 expedition training programs have been devised to be expedition specific. Use these as a guide but also feel free to contact us for individual advice on how to incorporate the best fitness program with your own lifestyle.
High altitude mountaineering is about slack days of low activity followed by long days where every grain of stamina you have is called upon and every ounce of determination you possess is necessary to reach your goal.
The essential idea in order to prepare for a mountain such as Cho Oyu is to increase the intensity of the exercise you do by small increments over 8 – 12 months before you leave for the expedition. Concentrate on cardiovascular workouts during the initial weeks by taking short runs when time allows and try to spend at least 2 weekends a month going on long duration walks (longer than 6 hrs) carrying a rucksack of around 15kg. As you get stronger increase this rate of exercise and the duration by walking every weekend and running 5km every second day, for example.
Since this is a mountaineering expedition we further encourage you to increase your climbing efficiency and use of climbing equipment (crampons, ice-axes) by undertaking winter walks / climbs in the Scottish Highlands, Pyrenees or Alps. This will increase your body’s ability to cope with the extra demands of these activities and also allows you to get familiar with the equipment you will be using on the mountain.
Tips on how a climber can maximise their chances of success - part 2
A focused regime will not only prepare your body for carrying minor loads but will harden your body against the big days on the mountain itself. In addition the weekend walks will help break in your boots and get you used to your equipment for the trekking stage of the expedition. In combination this will pay dividends when you reach base camp because even though you can’t train for altitude your body will be ready for arduous days and you will be familiar with how to best use your equipment, both adding to you being able to enjoy and appreciate the mountain all the more.
Furthermore being familiar with moving over ice and glaciated ground will be beneficial when joining this expedition. Contact the office for further details and to discuss your individual background. This helps us to formulate a training strategy that best suits the demands of your daily life.
When is the money due for this expedition?
Generally deposits are due when you book as we need in turn to book the international flights well in advance. The full amount should be paid four months prior to departure. However having said that, our aim is to get you to the top of this mountain and we understand that personal financial situations can vary. Please contact our friendly office crew to discuss a suitable payment plan should you find raising the funds to be difficult. We have been in your shoes after all and go by the motto of where there’s a will there’s a way.
What is your cancellation policy? What is your refund policy?
Please read 360 expeditions terms and conditions carefully before you depart. 360 expeditions highly recommends trip cancellation insurance for all expeditions. Due to the nature and heavy costs of government and operator permits 360 expeditions must adhere to a stringent refund policy.
How much do we tip our local crew?
Our local crew work extremely hard to ensure that your expedition runs well. While tipping is not compulsory once someone sees the hard work the crew provides and realises the small amount of money they get paid relative to our own salaries, tipping will seem the least they can do to say thank you. As a general rule we suggest around $400 – $500 per client for the entire local crew to be shared amongst them and an equal amount for your individual Climbing Sherpa who accompanies you to the summit. Tipping the 360 Leader is entirely at your discretion.
Money - am I correct in thinking we only need to take American Dollars with us?
American dollars are readily recognised and are easily converted to the local currency. Upon arrival there will always be a bureau the change at the airport. Generally these provide a better rate of exchange then your hotel. For most situations when buying gifts or small goods such as drinks or snacks etc. the use of small denomination US dollars is not a problem. Getting change for a $20 bill when buying a $1 coke will be a problem. Larger bills are good for tipping your porters at the end of the expedition and a sufficient amount should be carried with you. Your 360 leader will advise you in the pre-expedition brief as to what is the correct amount to take on the trip with you.
What additional spending money will we need?
The amount of money you will need depends on how many presents you wish to buy or if you want to purchase soft drinks on the trek. As a basic rule of thumb $200 should be more than adequate for any expedition spending. Nepal and Tibet relatively cheap places and when indulging in the local custom of haggling, goods can be bought for excellent value for money. Your 360 leader will be happy to point out the relative bargains, suitable prices and where to get find the best value for money. The only other cash you’ll need to consider taking with you on this expedition is the local crew tips.
Can I contact the others on the climb? How about the leader?
You can always call our offices and one of the leaders will contact you as soon as they get off the hill. For this expedition we will be holding a pre-expedition meeting in plenty of time before the expedition is due to take place. This is to aid you with any questions you may have and to meet your team members. We feel it is important that you have already struck up a friendship with your team before leaving rather than setting off from the airport as total strangers.