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Cho Oyu

  • Where?

    Tibet

  • Altitude

    8,201m

  • Duration

    47 days

  • Weather

  • Physical

    P7

  • Technical

    T5

  • 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.

  • Overview

  • Date & Prices

  • Pics & Vids

  • Itinerary

  • Kit List

  • FAQ's

Overview

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 by a small team led by Herbert Tichy in 1953.

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
Cho Oyu Cho Oyu

Date & Prices

Departure & Return

Duration

Price (excl. flight)

Price (incl. flight)

Start: 25 August 2019
End: 10 October 2019

Price without flights:  $23,600
Price with flights: $24,400

25 August 2019

10 October 2019

47 days

$23,600

$24,400

Included

  • Price is based on group of 4
  • 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

Not Included

  • 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

Itinerary

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.

Kit List

Bags & Packs

Kit bag

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)

Quantity: 2

Climbing Backpack

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

Daysack

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

Dry stuffsacks

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

Padlocks

For use on your kit bag for travel and on the expedition plus your hotel bag

Quantity: 2

Sleeping Gear

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

Sleeping mat

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

Headwear

Warm headgear

This can be a warm hat, beanie, balaclava, anything to reduce the heat loss from your head

Quantity: 2

Wide brimmed hat

Keeps the sun off exposed areas like ears and the nape of the neck

Sunglasses

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. Julbo is our preferred supplier

Ski goggles

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

Buff/Scarf

Essential for protection from the sun and dust

Sunblock

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

Lip salve

Sunscreen generally doesn’t work on your lips so it’s important to also have high factor lipsalve

Upper Body

Base layer

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

Quantity: 3

Mid layer

These are typically lightweight microfleeces or similar technology that provide varying degrees of warmth and insulation without being overly bulky or heavy to pack

Quantity: 3

Gilet (optional)

Optional – A great low volume additional layer to keep your core warm, whether down, primaloft or fleece

Waterproof top

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

Down jacket

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

Soft Shell

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

Light gloves

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

Waterproof mitts

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

Down suit

It is highly recommended to wear a full down suit, rather than a combination of a down jacket and trousers for summit day

Lower Body

Trekking trousers

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

Midweight trousers

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

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

Down overtrouser

For summit day – or a full down suit

Long Johns

Longjohns, to be worn underneath trekking trousers or thicker trousers for high up

Quantity: 2

Underwear

Merino or wicking material, not cotton. How many pairs you take is entirely up to you

Feet

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

Gaiters

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

Trekking socks

Single layer or wearing 2 pairs is a personal choice and lighter weight merino wool is a good option

Quantity: 4

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

Quantity: 3

High altitude inner socks

Lighter weight inner socks, Merino wool is advisable

Quantity: 3

Spare laces

Just in case

Technical Equipment

Climbing helmet

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

Climbing harness

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

Quantity: 4

Jumars

Left or right handed depending on your preference. One to use and one as a spare

Figure of 8

Figure of 8 descender

Belay plate

Back up descending device

Prusiks

1.5m of 5mm cord. To be used as a prusik loop

Sling (100cm)

Crampons

12 point mountaineering crampons with anti-balling plates that fit your specific plastic boots (not ice climbing crampons)

Ice axe

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

Trekking poles

Essential for high up the mountain when we are load carrying as well as descending

Hydration

Water bottles/bladder

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!

Water purification

Purification tablets are better than any other system.  Highly unlikely to be needed.  Always good to have in your bag

Insulated mug

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!

Toiletries

Travel towel

Travel towels from the likes of Lifesystems are perfect

Wet wipes

These are great for washing when modern shower facilities become a thing of the past

Alcohol gel

A must have for good camp hygiene

Toilet paper

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

Insect repellent

For early stages and once back down

Wash kit

Keep it simple on the mountain. Essentials are toothbrush, toothpaste and deodorant. Moisturiser is advisable, everything else is a luxury!

Medications

Personal first aid kit

The 360 med kits are designed to be used in emergencies and akin to an A&E rather than a pharmacy on Expeditions so please come prepared with useful meds for yourself such as painkillers (Ibuprofen if you can take it and a Paracetamol) plus blister plasters, plasters, antiseptic, rehydration sachets and any muscle rubs you wish to use.

Personal medication

Keep this in your daysack

Misceallaneous

Camera

Bring plenty of spare batteries and memory cards. The mountain can be dusty to some sort of camera protective bag is advisable

Penknife (optional)

Head torch

We recommend Petzl head torches. Bring spare batteries.

Snacks

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’s 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

Documentation

Passport

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

Visa

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

Money

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.

Travel insurance

Copy of own travel insurance details.  And relevant contact numbers.

We recommend looking into deals offered by True Traveller, the BMC, 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.

Many other insurance providers are available and we do recommend that you shop around to get the best cover for you on the expedition you are undertaking. It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the appropriate insurance for your intended trip. To include: medical evacuation and coverage up to the maximum altitude of this trip. Please contact the office if you have any queries about insurance for this trip.

FAQ's

Guides and Sherpa team

Who is the guiding team composed of?

The company directors assigned to join you on our high-altitude expeditions have a world class background in leading expeditions of this nature.

Rolfe, who is leading our 2019 Everest North Col expedition and the Cho Oyu Autumn expedition, has lead expeditions to four of the 8,000m peaks. Mount Everest: 2007 (North Col), 2015, 2016, Manaslu: 2013, Cho Oyu: 2016 (two summits in 24 hours) and 2018 and Lhotse in 2016 (unsuccessful). Furthermore, he was an Expedition Leader on 5 unsupported, technically difficult 7,000m peaks and has guided more than seventy expeditions to 6,000m peaks.

The key word here is guided. Leading an expedition of this calibre demands a thorough familiarity not only with the mountains unique complexities but also a complete understanding of a client’s individual requirements. With almost 30 years’ experience in this leadership role, it is safe to say that Rolfe has what it takes to confidently deal with the demands this career entails.

Raj, supporting as an expert high-altitude medical professional from the UK, has summited Cho Oyo and Mount Everest with his own self-sufficient expeditions and has completed the coveted 7 Summits also completely unsupported. On six out of these seven he has worked in a leadership capacity and on Mount Everest he acted as the expedition medical officer. Raj will be on hand to discuss any of your medical queries or concerns before the expedition heads out.

Who are the 360 Climbing Sherpa team?

One of many reasons to choose 360 is that we work closely with a Sherpa and Nepali team with whom we have enjoyed several decades of climbing success. 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 multiple Everest ascents under their belts.

Is there a Base Camp manager?

We employ the services of a professional Base Camp manager whose sole purpose is to assure the seamless running of the camp facilities and the logistics on the mountain. He does not participate in the ascent but is on 24-hour standby via VHS radio to facilitate the safe running of the expedition and throughout the ascent period. He is in daily communication with our office in Kathmandu to source weather forecasting, pass on messages and to update the progress of the expedition.

Why choose 360 Expeditions for this 8,000m expedition?

One of many reasons to choose our expedition company lies in the fact that one of the company directors will be joining the expedition and managing the expedition on the mountain with you. These guys are professionals and want to ensure that you get the best possible chance of topping out. Plus, continual support right from the word go from a seamless, professional and hugely dedicated office crew means that you can concentrate on the climb without distraction and loss of time. Our entire 360 team work hard to make sure that you reach the summit.

When comparing expedition companies, it is important to look beyond the price and consider the inclusions. We offer a Cho Oyu expedition package which contains many more than the expected inclusions and there are no hidden costs. We don’t compromise on the quality of our service by skimping on added luxuries which enhance the expedition experience. As standard we provide experienced and qualified western guides, a dedicated world-class Sherpa team, seamless logistical management both in country and prior to departure, small group sizes, modern climbing equipment and safe client to guide ratios. Beyond this it is the host of additional inclusions and services, such as our unique individualised ascent strategy which makes this Cho Oyu expedition truly a life changing experience.

Why climb with the directors of 360 Expeditions?

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 return with a huge amount of mountain know-how learnt and practiced. Our 360 team’s experience and knowledge is based on three decades worth of high altitude climbing experience. Logistical planning, assessing the weather forecast to developing a climbing strategy, gaining an insider’s view of the daily running of an expedition on every level is valued by most expedition members. They will involve you every step of the way. 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.

The Climb

Pros and cons for your first 8000’er; Manaslu (8,156 m) or Cho Oyu (8,201 m)? Part 1.

Both mountains are incredible adventures and offer a hugely satisfying expedition experience and both are fantastic stepping stones for Mount Everest, but each are as different as well, like chalk and cheese.

Firstly, although they are both part of the greater Himalayan massif they are in different countries and situated on different sides of the range. This makes a huge difference in the landscape and overall feel of the expedition experience. Manaslu is approached from the lowland jungle whereas Cho Oyu is approached from the high Tibetan Plateau. Equally the politics of the two places are different. Nepal has a more relaxed feel to it whereas Tibet is tangibly under Chinese influence. Recently the number of climbers attempting Manaslu has increased because political issues in Tibet resulted in the closure of the border.

Most climbing teams walk to Manaslu basecamp (4,800 meters) over a week via a stunning trail which is billed as Nepal’s most beautiful trek. This allows teams to get both fit and acclimatised before reaching basecamp. The approach to Cho Oyu from Kathmandu to Chinese basecamp (4,800 meters) is by road over the vast Tibetan plateau. Although incredibly beautiful and culturally interesting the altitude, if not carefully planned for, can be gained too quickly and altitude related problems may result.

Pros and cons for your first 8000’er; Manaslu (8,156 m) or Cho Oyu (8,201 m)? Part 2.

The climbing seasons vary between mountains also with Cho Oyu offering equal chances of success in both spring and autumn and Manaslu having a better success rate in autumn due to high snowfalls in the region during spring. It is important to remember, however, that the availability of strong Climbing Sherpas for Cho Oyu for the spring season will be reduced as most will be employed by western mountaineering outfitters on Mount Everest.

The mountains themselves are also very different. Cho Oyu is slightly easier in the sense that it doesn’t have an active icefall to navigate nor a long approach glacier to traverse but it does have technical terrain in the form of steep icewalls and a rock-band to climb on the summit day.

The distance to the summit is longer on Cho Oyu from its respective high camp (7,200 meters) by about 300 meters but the normal climbing strategy for Manaslu is not to return to its high camp (7,400 meters) after summiting but to descend as low as camp 1 (5,700meters) making for an equally long day.

Further because of the different altitudes of their main operating bases ABC (5,700 meters) on Cho Oyu and BC (4,800 meters) on Manaslu there are 4 high camps on Manaslu and only 3 on Cho Oyu. Making logistics slightly simpler on Cho Oyu.

Pros and cons for your first 8000’er; Manaslu (8,156 m) or Cho Oyu (8,201 m)? Part 3.

Both mountains can have avalanche problems after big snow storms (particularly in spring on Manaslu and autumn on Cho Oyu) but because of the aspect of slope and the higher precipitation rates in Nepal snow build up can be greater on Manaslu during both peak seasons.

Nowadays the 4 camps commonly used on Manaslu are placed in very safe places unlike in the past where camp placement lead to severe problems due to avalanche activity.

The cost of these expeditions varies significantly too with Manaslu being cheaper primarily due to the climbing permits currently being less costly in Nepal. But this will probably change soon.

Overall both mountains are a fantastic adventure and deliver a high altitude experience which if conducted by a professional mountaineering outfitter is made as safe as possible and offers an equally high success rate.

What is the Climber to Sherpa ratio?

The Expedition leader runs the expedition in close consultation with the local experts, the 360 Nepali team and climbing Sherpa team. Together they will formulate the safest and best strategy of producing a successful expedition. Each of the expedition staff supporting your ascent has their own unique remit but a large degree of overlap in the day to day roles exists. On some occasions for example your climbing Sherpas will be employed to carry communal expedition equipment to the higher camps, sometimes they are needed to fix rope or assist in an evacuation. At these specific times you will be climbing with only the Expedition leader and one climbing Sherpa. Our Sherpa team will be with you throughout summit phase of this expedition. For this phase the ratio will be 2 clients per 1 climbing Sherpa.

We usually keep our group sizes small and rarely have more than 6 clients for this expedition. In this case there will be 3 climbing Sherpas joining you on the summit bid.

Occasionally several summit bids take place during the cause of a favourable weather window. If 3 climbers are on one summit bid the ratio will be 2 Sherpas (and the Expedition leader) to 3 climbers, a 1 to 1 support scenario.

The 360 leader is not part of the Sherpa to Climber ratio, he will be with you in addition to your climbing Sherpas for the entire trek in, mountain phase and summit bid thereby increasing your summit support team to 4 to 6 if a full team were to summit at one time.

What is your individualised ascent strategy?

Every team member is unique. They come from different backgrounds and have different life experiences. Equally their training and climbing resumés may differ and therefore an individual ascent strategy for the duration of the entire expedition has to be devised. Our team members benefit hugely from our small group policy as our guides can dedicate a huge amount of time devising an individualised plan which will maximise their chances of standing on the summit. Based upon pre-existing factors and an individual’s expedition progress our guides will be able to fine tune every client’s individual performance and enjoyment of the expedition. By creating an open and honest two-way communication between client and the guide from the onset of the expedition, your guide will be able to dramatically enhance your experience and improve your chances of standing on top. Details such as pairing you up with a climbing Sherpa you work well with on summit night, working out your ideal tent buddy, closely watching your diet and hydration, making sure you are adequately rested, teaching you the correct dosage and use of altitude related medicine, taking the time to retrain you on techniques you may not be familiar with, re teaching you the use of climbing kit you haven’t used for a while and determining when is the optimum time for you to summit, all form but a small part of our individualised ascent strategy.

What route will we be taking?

As noted on the itinerary page this route is the North-West ridge route. It is the standard route to ascend Cho Oyu.

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 6–10 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 to the altitude, rest, eat and to rehydrate properly

How long is summit day?

A typical summit day is 8 to 10 hours for the ascent from C2 to the summit and about 6 to 8 hours to return. These times vary enormously from team to team and between team members and varies according to individual fitness and progress made to get to C2. The summit departure time will be determined by the team leader and climbing Sherpas based on these factors as well as movements of other teams on the mountain.

What is a typical ascent profile of a mountain this calibre?

We work closely with each individual team member to determine their own unique ascent profile. Generally speaking though a typical ascent profile is as follows:

  • Arrive at base camp, rest for a few days, followed by days of short acclimatisation walks
  • Climb to altitude approximating ABC and descend to base camp
  • Climb to ABC via an intermediate camp and remain
  • Several rest days at ABC
  • Climb to Camp 1 and return to ABC
  • Climb to Camp 1 and sleep here, continue to Camp 2 next day and spend a night before descending to ABC
  • Several rest days at ABC

 

The next stage is the actual summit climb. By now you will be fit, well rested, well fed, fully hydrated, properly acclimatised and have developed a good mountain sense. You are ready for the climb of your life!

What is the ascent profile for climbing Cho Oyu? Part 1.

The journey to ABC has been well described on the itinerary page. The information below follows the route above ABC to the summit.

For our first time above ABC we will explore the glacier around the camp. 60m to 70m high ice towers called penitenties form incredible structures which we take our time to explore up close. Further trips above ABC will include training days to sharpen our expedition skills needed for the ascent and to re-familiarize ourselves with the expedition equipment.

Once we begin our first rotation we will not be climbing to Camp 1 directly but will spend a night at a picturesque camp called Lake Camp first. This camp is at 6,000m and takes 4-5 hours to reach from ABC.

From here it takes another 4 to 6 hours to climb to Camp 1.

The times taken for each rotation and finally for the ascent phase of the climb will be reduced as we get more acclimatised and stronger.

What is the ascent profile for climbing Cho Oyu? Part 2.

The route from ABC to C1 follows the Cho Oyu glacier besides its spiky glacial back until we reach a sharp rise which leads to the start of the North West ridge and lake camp. From here we ascend “killer hill” a rock-strewn scree slope to the crest of the ridge to find the spectacularly located C1 at 6,450m. Fixed lines are normally not needed to ascend this section but can be put into place should conditions demand it. I.e. after a storm.

Now firmly perched on the North-West ridge we get a clear view of the route to C2. We will be staying at camp one for several nights during the rotation phase of the ascent to get acclimatised and to get familiar with the fixed rope and the terrain to the first ice wall at 6,800 meters. Stretching between the two camps the ridge offers a variety of terrain all of which is protected by fixed line. The climbing above C1 starts up a steep snow-slope which rises to 40 degrees then flattens out to rise again around a rocky out-crop. We by-pass this to where to ridge broadens and we can see the famous serac wall.

What is the ascent profile for climbing Cho Oyu? Part 3.

We follow the broad ridge keeping a careful eye open for crevasses until we reach the first crux of the route at 6,800m, the serac band. This ice wall spans the entire route and is quite unstable but we always find a safe way through. The sections of near vertical ice to climb are about 40m to 50m high and we use jumars (ascenders) to climb them and a figure 8 or similar device to rappel down them on the descent. Once on top we cross a small plateau to reach another higher but less steep ice wall to get to Camp 2. This section of ice wall kicks up to 60 degrees for 120m and takes around 2 hours to climb. The total amount time taken from Camp 1 to reach Camp 2 is around 8-10 hours.

Camp 2 is situated on a broad ledge directly below the North-West face of Cho Oyu. Its altitude is 7,150m. There is a Camp 3 at 7,400m but this is rarely used owing to logistical difficulties and because it is exposed to high winds. Our ascent to the summit begins from Camp 2.

What is the ascent profile for climbing Cho Oyu? Part 4.

We, leave Camp 2 at 7,150m and climb up an increasingly steep snow slope to reach a rocky outcrop below Camp 3. Here we have a chance to rest and re-hydrate.

Our next climb is a short but steep snow-slope to reach C3 where we switch O2 cylinders to reach the summit. Above Camp 3 we meet the yellow band. This broad band of yellow rock is up to 200m high and broken up by various gullies and ledges. The condition of the yellow band varies from year to year and can be either rocky or snow filled. It is essential to wear helmets for either conditions as rocks, set lose by the teams above might tumble into the gully system we climb to get to its top. The yellow band steepens to around 60 degrees in places and it might be awkward to climb the rocky sections using crampons. Still firmly protected by the fixed line and with help from your support team it should take around 2 hours to reach the top of the yellow band at 7,800m.

What is the ascent profile for climbing Cho Oyu? Part 5.

Above the yellow band we meet the broad snow slopes that bring us to the summit plateau at 8,100m. The snow slopes are not steep, 40 degrees at most but might be rocky near the edge of the plateau. Once we reach the plateau at 8,100m we begin the hour long push over its slightly rounded back to reach the true summit of the mountain at 8,201m. By now your eyes will be firmly set on the prize and your efforts are rewarded by incredible views as the vista expands around you.

Standing on the summ1it of Cho Oyu is utterly unique. The views you get over Tibet span to the curvature of the earth and looking down into Nepal you will see familiar summits such as Ama Dablam, Pumori, Changtse and the 6000 ers. And of course, the crowning glory is that view of Everest, Lhotse and Nuptse and all the historic features such as both the North and South col, western cwm and the Khumbu glacier from the one vantage point, which is only visible from this incredible summit. Generally, 20 to 30 minutes are spent on the top to savour your accomplishment and to soak up the grandeur. This truly is a summit of a life time.

We descend the same way we came up using the fixed line to rappel the steeper sections. The total time necessary to reach the summit will be around 8-10 hours from Camp 2 and the return journey will take between 6-8 hours.

What are the pros and cons for climbing Cho Oyu in spring or autumn

The weather conditions and hence conditions on the mountain change not only with the seasons but also due to the current effects of climate change. Only broad terms can be used when describing what conditions can be expected when choosing between the 2 optimal seasons, spring and autumn to climb the mountain.

Generally spring has less snow and avalanche danger, but dry conditions mean it has more ice and the climbing particularly between C1 and C2 can be more technical. The autumn can be good, but if big snow fall is experienced you might experience long delays waiting for the avalanche conditions to become safe.

Spring starts out cold and windy but generally gets better as this season progresses. Autumn starts out warm and often has quite a lot of snowfall initially which eases to allow for a favourable summit period to develop. Then as the jet-stream moves over the mountain it rapidly gets cold and windy around early October.

360 Expeditions have lead expeditions to Cho Oyu for both seasons but we do not have a preferred season as such. In spring we aim to summit in April or early May when the weather starts to improve, and in the autumn during late September/early October before it gets too cold, and the monsoon storms arrive.

There are more expeditions on Cho Oyu in the Autumn, only because many expedition companies are on Everest in the Spring and Sherpas can earn more money working on Everest.

What experience should I have before I attempt this climb?

You will need to be thoroughly familiar with all the necessary skills needed to climb a mountain of this magnitude. Appropriate time spent on high altitude mountains as well as several technical alpine routes prior to coming to Cho Oyu are a basic requirement to join the expedition. Alpine climbing techniques should not be learned for the first time on the mountain.

How fit do I need to be for this expedition?

To climb Cho Oyu you will need to be in the best physical shape of your life. By the time you book and are accepted onto an Everest expedition you will have a good understanding of your level of fitness and how you cope with altitude and with the discomforts of an expedition of this nature as a whole. This expedition is gruelling and will be physically demanding. We have rated it as P7, T5 for level of fitness needed. Please check our fitness chart.

How many climbers are on this expedition?

The price for this expedition is based on a group of 4. However, the price is variable and the expedition can be run with 1, 2 or 6 clients comfortably. We keep our groups small as we feel that our teams benefit enormously from the tight knit bonding and enhanced team spirit which develops on a complete expedition of around 10-12 members (including guides and Sherpas). Getting to know each other personally and climbing together during the course of an expedition helps team members understand each other better and allows a measure of internal support for each other to develop. This coupled with receiving a much closer level of support from the guides and Sherpas significantly enhances the expedition experience and hence increases an individual climber’s chances of standing on the summit.

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. Life-long friendships have always developed by this shared experience.

Is there a possibility for family or friends to come along on the road trip and trek to ABC?

The journey from Kathmandu to BC and then the trek to ABC offers a glimpse into quintessential Tibet. It encompasses a fantastic blend of culture, amazing views and provides a good insight into traditional Tibetan and Chinese 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 are able to arrange this.

Although it is all possible and sounds exciting having family and friends come along, we actually discourage this as we feel it is less ideal for our climbers on the team.

The time spent in Kathmandu and the journey to Base Camp gives the team valuable time to bond without distractions. If family and friends join, this process is jeopardised and the focus is very different. Subsequently, when family and friends depart and the team are left to climb, it can leave a bit of a hole that is needed to be readdressed. Focus then needs to be formed.

So in short yes it’s possible but we discourage it as we are keen to focus on the task at hand. This is of course reaching the top of Cho Oyu.

What is a Summit Bonus?

This is the bonus tip that the client gives to his 1:1 Sherpa guide for reaching the summit. It is set at a minimum of $500 – $750. You will need to have this money with you in cash to give to your Sherpa after your climb.

What is included whilst in Kathmandu?

Four nights’ accommodation in Kathmandu including breakfast. Dinner will be included on the first night. Dinners are as per the itinerary above. Once the expedition departs Kathmandu all accommodation and meal costs are included in this itinerary.

Health and Safety

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!

What happens if there is a problem on the mountain?

All our leaders are in communication with each other by phone and radio. (VHS and/or Motorola) In the 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 have the highest standard of wilderness first aid qualifications and can handle emergencies to the highest level of competency.

Is there Helicopter rescue on Cho Oyu?

There has been frequent talk from the Tibetan Mountaineering Association about making Helicopters available for rescue work on Cho Oyu and as we understand this will be a service that is offered in 2019. In 2018 helicopters were used in Tibet on Shishapangma and we have been greatly encouraged by this move.

If weather and logistics permits, the helicopters will take over making the rescues and evacs far quicker and seamless but we always plan and continue to plan to be self-sufficient if outside help is unavailable due to logistics and bad weather.

We plan to use our Guides and Sherpas on the mountain before transferring to the yaks from ABC down. From BC the nearest modern medical facilities are a 3-hour drive away.

We take state of the art medical and rescue equipment with us and ensure all our staff on the mountain have current first aid and/or medical qualifications and have our own expedition medical specialist on standby for the duration of this expedition.

What medical/emergency equipment do you bring on this expedition?

All our Guides, Expedition leaders and Climbing Sherpas have attained the highest necessary qualifications and training needed to deal with not only emergencies but also to maintain a healthy expedition from day one. For this expedition we will be bringing comprehensively suppled medical kits, emergency oxygen and Gamow bags as well as state of the art communication equipment. On the mountain our Expedition leaders carry sufficient medical equipment to deal with localised first aid scenarios and at the basecamp we have sufficient supplies to deal with longer lasting medical problems such as anti-biotics to treat infections

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 part of this expedition. 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 dose of Diamox ( your expedition leader will give this to you at ABC if you haven’t already sourced them before the expedition) a basic blister kit, plasters, antiseptic, sun protection, your own personal medication (sometimes your luggage might not get to camp before you and you may not be able to take your medicine according to the regime you are used to), basic pain relief (paracetamol /aspirin/ibuprofen,) a personal course of antibiotics if prone to illness etc. 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 Leader and/or Climbing Sherpa carries a very comprehensive first aid kit that contains a wide range of supplies and medications. They are 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 first aid kit as compact and light as possible.

For the mountain phase, it is highly recommended to carry your own treatment dose of high altitude drugs such as Nifedipine, Dexamethasone and Diamox which we will give to you at ABC. We advocate that each team member carries these drugs in the same place (i.e. top LH pocket of your down-suit) so that if an emergency should arise the Expedition leader, climbing Sherpa or fellow team member can locate them easily.

Am I likely to suffer from altitude sickness on this expedition? Part 1.

The likelihood of getting altitude related problems are dramatically reduced on this expedition due to our carefully designed acclimatisation strategy. We have years of experience in dealing with altitude and its related problems and have devised an ascent strategy which caters for a broad spectrum of individual altitude adaptation. Still it is important to understand there are different types of altitude sickness and that at times altitude related problems can happen and to recognise the symptoms if they occur.

The most common of these is high altitude sickness (AMS – Acute Mountain Sickness).

If you have a mild case, you may experience: dizziness, headache, muscle aches, insomnia, nausea and vomiting, irritability, loss of appetite, swelling of the hands, feet, and face, rapid heartbeat and shortness of breath with physical exertion.

Am I likely to suffer from altitude sickness on this expedition? Part 2.

Symptoms of severe altitude sickness may include: coughing, chest congestion, pale complexion and skin discoloration, inability to walk or lack of balance and social withdrawal. Our leaders assess each client’s personal situation carefully. By carefully observing the client during the course of the day our leaders are able to quickly determine the probable cause of their clients discomfort. Apart from a gain in altitude further factors which contribute to the development of

AMS symptoms are an insufficient intake of water or ascending too quickly. Further our leaders understand the compounding effects of dehydration brought on by excessive vomiting and loss of appetite and how to best allow a client to recover from exhaustion.
AMS might sound frightening but our leaders are fully trained (and highly experienced) in helping to relieve your personal symptoms and provide advice on how to best proceed.

What can I do to help prevent AMS?

To help avoid AMS, following the below rules can be simple but effective:

  • Pay attention to the advice given to you by your expedition leader
  • Drink lots of water
  • Walk slowly
  • Stay warm
  • Eat well

We recommend that you familiarise yourself with the various affects that altitude can cause. During your pre-climb briefing, we describe altitude sickness to you in detail, and advise you how to cope with it. The most important thing is not to fear it, but to respect it and to know how to deal with it and more importantly tell your leaders how you feel.

Is there a risk of getting HACE (High Altitude Cerebral Oedema) and HAPE (High Altitude Pulmonary Oedema) on the mountain?

The severe forms of altitude sickness, HACE and high altitude pulmonary HAPE are extremely unlikely to occur on this expedition. Our leaders and Sherpa team are fully trained in recognition of the onset of these problems and will deal with them at the first sign of their development and will not let them develop to a dangerous level.

What type of communication is available on the expedition?

Telephone and internet coverage is available from Kathmandu to BC. Above this the Expedition 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.

Additionally, our Expedition and Sherpa crew carry VHS radios to communicate with each other and the Basecamps.

What happens if I need to leave the expedition early?

If a climber needs to leave early for whichever reason, medical or personal the Expedition leader and Sherpa team will deal with the matter with utmost competency and discretion. Further arrangements will be made with the assistance of our 360 team in Kathmandu and Europe to arrange every detail of the journey back of the mountain. Additional costs (transport, hotels, flights etc.) might be incurred by the climber but our 360 team will be able to assist in every detail of your departure.

Do I need to take Malarial drugs?

Our leaders don’t take anti malarial drugs 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. Alternatively visit MASTA Travel Health clinics or any of the other larger local hospitals have travel clinics.

Accommodation

What hotels do we stay at in Kathmandu?

We stay at a centrally located hotel such as the Kathmandu Guest house. This modern, comfortable hotel offers, classy on-site restaurants and quiet tropical gardens just a stone throw away from the bustle of the exotic Thamel market and many of the cultural sites which feature on any visitor’s list of things to see list.

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 hotel rooms, private airport pick-ups or arranging private rooms. Please indicate your requirements on your booking form and we will contact you with the relevant arrangements.

Can you describe Base Camp and Advanced Base Camp facilities? Part 1.

Base Camp (BC) and Advanced Base Camp (ABC) will be your home away from home. The Expedition leader and Sherpa team strive to make you as comfortable as possible whilst we are here during the acclimatising process or waiting for conditions to become safe. Our spacious double walled mess tents are heated with gas heaters and a small generator or solar panels provides power for light and recharging electrical appliances. The chairs are comfortable and you will find everything you need to snack or to make unlimited hot drinks on the large central table.

Further camp facilities include a private, hygienic toilet tent and a hot shower tent.
You are invited to pop into the large kitchen tent at any time should you wish to have a hot drink, meal or to chat with our kitchen team. Our kitchen tent is provided with all the modern necessities to cook delicious, fresh and varied meals and our chef is a world class expedition chef. Further our Basecamps are equipped with VHS radio communication systems and satellite phones to receive regular weather and condition updates.

Our central dining tent is not only used for meals but also as a space for relaxation and entertainment. We encourage you to take along books, personal music systems, and games. There are other teams sharing the BC and route with us and great friendships can be made by hosting them for a meal in our tent.

Can you describe Base Camp and Advanced Base Camp facilities? Part 2.

The dining tent also doubles up as a classroom; we’ll further your expedition knowledge by showing you how to use the oxygen systems and for informal lectures on acclimatisation, expedition health and to keep everyone abreast of the day to day logistical decisions and weather forecast.

The area around the Base Camp also becomes a classroom as your Expedition leader will find an appropriate area to refresh your knowledge on how to climb fixed rope, cross ladders, abseil, how to use the stoves (easy) and avalanche transceivers.

And of course, as a member of team 360 you will be intimately involved in all the planning and strategy of climbing this incredible mountain.

Will I have to share a tent on this expedition?

At Base Camp and ABC each expedition member will have their own tent so they can enjoy a bit of their own space, store their own equipment and relax.

Tent sharing will become necessary from Camp 1 and above. You will be sharing a tent with one of your team members. The primary reason for this is that most altitude related symptoms manifest themselves at night, therefore having a tent buddy to keep an eye on you is hugely reassuring. 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 preassigned hotel 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.

What about showers?

There are hot showers at Base Camp and ABC. Our Sherpa team set up a permanent private shower tent nearby our collective campsite. Although there is no running water our kitchen crew will be able to heat sufficient water for you to enjoy a 5 minute shower.

Will my kit be safe in BC when I climb?

Yes, your kit is safe in your tent but we do advise to bring locks for your kit bags when flying which can be used on your bags in your tents to be doubly sure.

What happens to toilet waste?

Sanitary toilet facilities will be provided at both BC and ABC. The waste is carried out on yaks or porters and disposed of according to current sanitation and health regulations.

Above ABC basic toilet facilities are provided. Fortunately, your need to use the toilet will be less frequent at altitude. You will need to bring up sufficient toilet paper from ABC to cater for your individual requirements.

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.

Food and Water

What food is available at the base camps and once on the mountain? How about snacks? Part 1.

All meals on the mountain are of the highest possible standards. Considering that our cooks have to produce the best possible meals in a wilderness setting the meals they produce are nothing short of a miracle. The meals are always delicious, fresh, nutritious and varied. We ensure that dietary preferences are always met and that the best local ingredients are used. We aim to provide a variety of western foods including many of the food items which you are familiar with to keep up your appetites. We pride ourselves in having base camp cooks that provide restaurant quality meals for every meal.

Snacks such as chocolate, fruit or biscuits are available throughout the day when in camp and are usually found on the dining table. If you can’t find what you’re looking for pop your head into the kitchen tent and our kitchen staff will be happy to help.

On the mountain we usually have a wide variety of MRE meals, these are significantly tastier than freeze dried, as they are real food vacuum sealed and ready to heat and eat. The underlying aim is to provide balanced nutritional meals packed with carbohydrates to refuel hungry bodies and to replenish stores for the next day of activity.

What food is available at the base camps and once on the mountain? How about snacks? Part 2.

When setting out from the camp for a day’s activity your Kitchen crew will provide you with a snack pack containing sweets, chocolate bars, cake, boiled egg, cheese and biscuits or a local bread known as chapati.

Often your Expedition leader or Climbing Sherpa will get to camp before you and get the stoves roaring to welcome you into camp with coffee, tea and snacks upon arrival from a day’s climb or acclimatisation trek.

Clients are invited to bring along any of their favourite snacks and goodie bags from home as they are expensive to buy once on the trek. Concentrate on high energy foodstuff such as Jelly Babies etc. to give you that little boost on an arduous day.

How often is fresh water available for refilling during a typical trekking and climbing day?

Ample water is continuously available at BC and ABC as are hot drinks, soups and the occasional canned beverage. You will be able to refill at any time from the water supply provided in both the kitchen tent and the dining tent (hot water flasks- 24 hours per day.)

Once at Camp 1 and above for the rotations or summit bid you will begin the re-hydration process immediately upon arrival into camp. Your Guide and Sherpa team will assist you with this. Equally you will begin to make (from ice) all the water you will need for the following days activity before you leave the tent that day. On summit day your Guide and Sherpa team will carry extra flasks of hot tea in addition to your own water supply. The use of stoves and cooking equipment will be demonstrated to you by your Guide and Sherpa team.

Where does the drinking water come from? On the trek and in camps?

For your stay in towns and cities and for the road journey to Basecamp bottled water will be used. At the higher camps we will use locally sourced drinking water from streams, springs or nearby glacier. These are usually fresh being topped up from meltwater above or by rainfall but we also increase their purity by treating the water with purification chemicals or by boiling it. We ensure the water is as pure as possible.

At the camps there is a continuous supply of hot water for you to make hot drinks and lunches and dinners usually commence with a soup. Further on the road trips ample soft drinks are available at hotels and restaurants.

What meals are provided above ABC?

We have a great cook and modern kitchen facilities at BC and ABC. Above this camp C1 you will be expected to use gas stoves to boil water to cook the “boil in the bag” meals and melt sufficient ice to serve as drinking water for the following day. The ready meals are of the highest standard and come in a huge variety of flavours. Appetite is likely to be reduced as we ascend higher but we aim to cater for every personal taste with a variety of meals to encourage essential fuel loading!

Training

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 8 hrs) carrying a rucksack of around 15kg and aiming for 800-1000 meters of ascent. 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.

Additionally, ask our team about pre-acclimatisation on smaller mountains prior to your departure for Cho Oyu.

Several excellent training plans can also be found online to prepare you for this ascent. Check the thorough advice offered by high altitude specialists Steve House and Scott Johnston on their website: Uphill Athlete

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 so that climbers are prepared to summit in any conditions.

Can I rent equipment for 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, we advocate the use of personal equipment whenever possible. This is particular important for the use of boots and high-altitude clothing.

Alternatively, things you don’t currently have can be hired cost effectively from our partners at Outdoor Hire or sourced cheaply through our reliable contacts in Kathmandu.

What clothing should I wear on at the start of the expedition?

Our leaders usually start the trek wearing long, lightweight trekking trousers and wicking (non-cotton) shirts. Long trousers are recommended to act as sun protection. Shorts can also be worn on the initial few days of the road trip and for walks around BC and to ABC as the temperature can be warm. Ensure that you apply sun protection frequently. Sunglasses are worn for most of the trek into ABC 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 for a trek around BC or when setting off for ABC 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 acclimatisation phase of the expedition. Cho Oyu creates its own weather system. It is not unusual to be caught out in an afternoon snowstorm low down on the mountain. Waterproofs should be Gortex material or similar and be carried with you at all times below ABC.

What do your guides and climbing Sherpa 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 fleece mid layer (top and bottom) and thin down jacket on the torso. Over the top of this they wear a one piece 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 or silk 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 inside the mittens 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 that I can use for the various phases on this expedition?

There are two distinct types of footwear on this trek. The boots used for the trekking phase to ABC should be sturdy, waterproof, insulated against cold temperatures and offer adequate ankle support. (Crampon compatible B2 boots.) 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 and their relative pros and cons can be found online or at your local gear store. If still stuck then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our 360 office for advice.

Double boots are essential for climbing 8,000m peaks. You will only be using your double boots for the entire mountain phase on this expedition. These boots should have a soft insulating inner bootie and a hard plastic exterior outer boot with a high insulated exterior gaiter covering both. The standard model would be Scarpa Phantom 8000, La Sportiva Mont or the Millet Everest equivalent. Temperatures high on the mountain are usually well below -30C and only double 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 freely move your toes.

Crampons are worn for the majority of the time you spend above ABC 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 specialised kit is needed?

Please see our comprehensive kit list for the equipment and clothing systems you will need for this ascent. You might be familiar with some of the high altitude clothing and equipment needed for climbing Cho Oyu from having previously been to high altitude on other mountains.

The use of specialised equipment such as oxygen delivery systems, climbing and cooking equipment will be demonstrated and retaught to you at ABC should you be in need of a refreshment course or want to be updated on current techniques.

If you have specific questions about equipment or clothing than don’t hesitate to contact the office prior to leaving on the expedition, our dedicated team of professionals are always on hand to give you specific advice on any of the specialised equipment you will need for this ascent.

What type of rucksack should I use for this expedition? Part 1.

A rucksack is worn by the climber at all times during both the trek in phase to ABC and on the mountain itself above ABC. A good all round size to accommodate both phases of this expedition is around 70 L capacity. An enormous array of rucksack types and models exist on the market today. It is worth considering expedition specific rucksacks rather than travel rucksacks. Expedition rucksacks tend to have fewer frills and are of more durable construction and are lighter in weight. It is important that your ruck sack has an adjustable waist belt to transfer the weight of your daily load onto your hips and from here onto your legs so that the strongest muscles do most of the carrying and that the shoulder straps are sufficiently padded for extra comfort. Another handy feature would be a compartment in which to fit a Camelbak or water bladder.

What type of rucksack should I use for this expedition? Part 2.

For the road journey to BC and for the trek to ABC a smaller (around 40L capacity) rucksack can be used. The content of the rucksack for the trekking phase should include: a fleece or light down jacket (for when taking breaks or weather changes) a full set (top and bottom) of waterproofs, sufficient water for the day, snacks, camera equipment, personal medication and a head torch. Your day-to-day rucksack will weigh no more then 4 – 6 kg.

For the mountain phase the basic content of the rucksack is rearranged to be compatible with the demands of the next phase. It will include additional items such as sleeping bags, down clothing and personal climbing equipment which are to be carried between camps both on the ascent and descent. By this stage your ruck sack will weigh around the 8-10 kg mark. Our climbing Sherpa will assist you in carrying some items to the higher camps.

Your rucksack can be filled to the brim with extra stuff (socks, down jackets etc.) before checking in at the airport to save weight and space in your hold luggage.

Our main expedition luggage will be carried to ABC by porters and yaks.

How heavy will my backpack be on the mountain?

The weight of your pack will usually not exceed 10 kg. We carefully scrutinise every item carried on “carry days” between camps and encourage a minimalist approach. Our yaks, porters and climbing Sherpa’s will be moving camping, kitchen and group equipment between camps.

What day to day stuff should I carry in my rucksack on the trek to ABC and the acclimatisation treks around BC?

Your daysack must contain the following items at all times. Waterproof top and bottoms, warm layer (thick fleece or light down jacket) gloves, beanie hat, head torch, personal first aid kit, sufficient water and snacks and of course a camera.

What luxuries should I take with me?

Most modern luxuries can be found in Kathmandu. Bring books as well as a Kindle as these can be shared more easily with the group once you finished reading them. (Kathmandu has a great selection of books to save plane weight). Furthermore, bring your iPads stuffed with as much variety of music and films as you can handle.

Will my kit be safe in BC and ABC when I climb?

Yes, your kit is safe in your tent but we do advise to bring locks for your kit bags when flying which can be used on your bags in your tents to be doubly sure.

How is equipment moved to BC or carried between camps?

All expedition equipment is brought to BC either by you in your travel bag from Kathmandu or (as is the case with the bulk of the expedition equipment) by a large two tonne truck. Road transport can get as far as BC. Above this yaks are used to transport all equipment to ABC. Above ABC the climbing Sherpa will be carrying the bulk of the necessary camping and climbing equipment and team members will carry their personal climbing luggage necessary for the ascent.

Your Yak bags should be of a soft material “duffel bag” or rucksack variety and should not be a suitcase or hard bodied metal case. It is important to try to limit your equipment at this stage to around 35-40kg. This is plenty to keep you going!

Bear in mind that most of your mountain hardware which is not needed before ABC will already have been brought up to ABC and is stored there in a safe place.

How warm does my sleeping bag need to be?

Sleeping bags should be rated within the -40 C comfort rating. From around Base Camp upwards it is not unusual to experience frosty nights. 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 its extreme rating.

Our leaders take sleeping bags rated to well below -40C to ensure that they are warm at night. A 5-season sleeping bag can be enhanced by using an inner silk or fleece liner (or similar). The idea is to be as comfortable and warm as possible for the night and henceforth to ensure plenty of sleep for the arduous days ahead. Some clients have found the use of a “Bivouac bag” to increase the warmth of their bag.

For this expedition it is worthwhile to consider bringing two sleeping bags. One to leave at ABC and one to leave at the higher camps. This method is used by some to minimise the need to carry their sleeping bags back down to ABC after an acclimatisation rotation to the higher camps.

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?

Casual dress is recommended for Kathmandu. Daytime temperatures are usually warm and shorts and t-shirts are fine. Evenings are generally cooler and a light fleece is recommended. A bag containing fresh clothes can be left in the hotel storage ready for your return.

The Weather

What is the best time of year to climb in Tibet and the Himalayas?

The best time to climb in the Himalayas is March to May and September to November. The later time frame is generally clear but colder with snowy conditions that are more stable. The usual weather patterns that previously occurred with great predictability are now changing and it is not unusual to experience short spells of weather that is unprecedented.

What weather report service do you use?

Your expedition leader will most likely be in Kathmandu before you arrive. But he will be waiting for you at arrivals at Kathmandu airport and be with you for the entire expedition from there. Most will have been on an expedition with our leaders before. Their professionalism as well as personality seem 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.

Travel

Where do I meet my leader?

Your expedition leader will most likely be in Kathmandu before you arrive. But he will be waiting for you at arrivals at Kathmandu airport and be with you for the entire expedition from there. Most will have been on an expedition with our leaders before. Their professionalism as well as personality seem 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. 360 Expeditions carefully consider weight restrictions imposed by various airlines for an 8,000m peak expedition such as Cho Oyu.

On some occasions climbers prefer to organise their own flights. If this is the case than we are more than willing to assist you with every detail of the journey to Nepal. We will for example be able to advise you of the weight restrictions imposed by various airlines and recommend quality airlines.

Booking your own airline allows you to have the flexibility to use frequent flyer miles as well as manage your luggage weight. For example, it can be more cost effective booking a business class flight than paying excess baggage.

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 pickups or arranging private rooms. Please indicate your requirements on your booking form and we will contact you with the relevant arrangements.

What happens if the expedition overruns?

Your permit and costs cover 75 days therefore you will have ample lee way regarding the mountain logistic costs. We managed to summit with our teams in the past in around 40 days.

The itinerary is designed to accommodate bad weather delays and sufficient acclimatisation to summit but If the expedition overruns and you choose to stay out on the expedition your flights will be changed accordingly. The 360 office will help with this. There could be a charge imposed by the airline, we will invoice you for this on return to the UK. You have two scheduled nights in Kathmandu on your return after the expedition.

Insurance

What travel insurance should I take for an expedition of this nature?

Copy of own travel insurance details. And relevant contact numbers are required.
Comprehensive expedition insurance is now available from various insurers. We recommend looking into deals offered by True Traveller, the BMC (although the BMC will only cover you for the summit phase if you have a history with them), 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.

Many other insurance providers are available and we do recommend that you shop around to get the best cover for you on the expedition you are undertaking.

It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the appropriate insurance for your intended trip. To include medical evacuation and coverage up to the maximum altitude of this trip. Please contact the office if you have any queries regarding insurance for this expedition. We will be happy to help.

Past climbers have often used a combination of insurances, one of which covers you for the trip into Base Camp and another for the climbing phase.

Are there any entry or Visa requirements?

All foreign nationals need visas. They are easily obtained at the border (airport) and cost $100 for a three month visa, however we recommend that you contact your nearest Nepali embassy (call 360 for details) to avoid queuing, unnecessary delays and potential clearance problems.

Alternatively, you can print the forms from here and complete them before your arrival to Kathmandu. Be sure to have the suggested USD amount in cash for your visa application and have a passport photo for your arrival in Kathmandu.

Visa requirements for entry into Tibet are different for tourists and climbing expedition members. Our Visa paper work is handled by our 360 Nepali office. Specific requirements to aid this application will be sent to you 3 months prior to departure as details are prone to change and cost.

Finance

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 and permits 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.

Alongside this tip for the local crew you will also need to give a summit bonus tip. This tip is for your Sherpa support for reaching the summit. It is set at a minimum of $500 – $750. You will need to have this money with you in cash to give to your Sherpa after your climb.

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 or land border. 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 360 team 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 are 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 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.

Communications and Electronics

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.

Is there electricity at Base Camp?

Electricity is generated by small generators and solar panels. A ready power supply is available in both the kitchen and dining tent to keep cameras, iPod, Kindles and suchlike charged. However, charging laptops can be a problem to charge so to keep your personal equipment simple.

What is phone coverage like?

Base Camp normally benefits from Chinese mobile coverage. Beyond that we rely on satellite phones which will be available for your use, but will have a charge attached to them.

Long shot but is there internet access at Base Camp?

Wifi is provided by a couple of Chinese companies but it can be intermittent. You can get 3G in certain areas of Base Camp too.

What type of communication is available on the expedition?

Telephone and internet coverage is available from Kathmandu to BC. Above this the Expedition 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.

Additionally, our Expedition and Sherpa crew carry VHS radios to communicate with each other and the Basecamps.

What is your point of contact? How can my family follow my progress?

Your 360 Leader will be sending regular updates to the 360 offices to allow your family and friends to track your progress on social media.

The best place to reach a loved one is through our main 360 office. We try to organise a daily satellite call with the 360 Leader on the mountain to allow communication between the outside world and to keep our team updated with important developments occurring at home.

Do we need a travel adaptor for the plug sockets in the hotel or are they the same as UK?

The round three pin plugs are used in Nepal. The hotels used on this expedition will have modern European plug fittings. An adaptor can be purchased at the airport if you’ve forgotten it.

I have been to Mera Peak and Aconcagua with them and I am lucky enough to be going to Cho Oyu with 360 in April.

Paula Cairey, General, 2017
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