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 Mountain Madness Cho Oyu 2007 Summit Success!

Cho Oyu Dispatch #7 9/25/07: The first Cho Oyu summit of the season belongs to the Mountain Madness team! Brad, Ziggy, Thumba, Gonga and myself topped out on Cho Oyu at 8201meters on September 23 at 11:00 a.m. Chinese time.

We reached the plateau at 7:30 a.m but the snow was so deep that it took Thumba, Gonga and myself another 3-1/2 hours to break trail in knee to waist deep snow on the plateau. The conditions were not too bad on summit day, but the weather has deteriorated dramatically and last night we stayed at Camp 1 where both of our tents received damage from the strong winds that blasted the camp all night. We are all safe now at ABC and all that is left is for our sherpas to go to Camp 1 and clear our remaining gear. -Phil Crampton.

Cho Oyu Dispatch #6, 9-17-07: We are now on our 4th rest day at advanced base camp. We have met with other leaders of major expeditions and have proposed that our Sherpas can fix ropes on the rock band and on the steeper slopes as needed. However, we have been told this is unnecessary and Sherpas from larger teams plan to fix the ropes. The weather has been hit and miss the last few days anyway, so we have been enjoying our lazy afternoons drinking starbucks coffee and snacking trying to replace some of the lost calories from climbing to 7,000m a few days. If all goes well we hope to see the ropes fixed on the 21st and we will top out on the 22nd.
Phil Crampton

Cho Oyu Dispatch #5, 9-13-07: The weather cooperated so our plans to carry to Camp I were put into place. We spent the night there and on the morning of the 11th we climbed to the ice fall at 6,700m and then returned to Camp for a second night. The 12th would be our biggest day so far and we carried loads to Camp II at 7,000m. Ziggy decided just after leaving Camp I that he was too fatigued for the long day ahead and decided to return to Advanced Base camp. Brad and I made the climb to Camp II in about 5 hours where we spent the night and we are now back at base camp enjoying good food and wine provided by our Nepalese cooks. After Ziggy and I spend a night at Camp II the three of us and our high altitude Sherpas will be ready for a summit push. Some of the larger teams along with their climbing Sherpas are planning to fix ropes on the rock bands and steeper slopes just above Camp III.
Phil Crampton.

Guide: Phil Crampton

Team Members: Brad Crawford, Ziggy Skirucha

First summitted in 1954 by a small Austrian/Tibetan expedition, Cho Oyu is technically easier than most other “8000ers,” making it a great first 8000-meter peak for climbers with previous high altitude climbing experience. The expedition begins in Kathmandu where we meet at our Nepal office to get our paperwork together, organize our gear, and enjoy the local customs & culture of Kathmandu. We then fly to Lhasa, the ancient capital city of Tibet, and once home to the 14th Dalai Lama who fled to India in 1959 due to the Chinese Invasion. We take a spectacular route from Lhasa to the village of Tingri, our final rugged and rural village before Cho Oyu base camp, touring Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and palaces along the way. We spend two nights at base camp before we hire yaks to transport our expedition supplies to advanced base camp (ABC). On this two day journey we cross rivers, and hike over rocky moraine before we arrive at ABC for four weeks. We climb Cho Oyu via the West Ridge/West Face, which has two short technical sections. Advanced Base Camp (ABC) will be established at 5800 meters (19,024 feet), Camp 1 at 6500 meters, Camp II at 7100 meters (23,288 feet), and Camp III at 7400 meters (24,272 feet). We will take an alternative overland route back to Kathmandu via Zhangmu.

August 26 – August 28: Arrive in Kathmandu – Travel from your homeport to Kathmandu. All flights cross the date line and consequently a day is lost.
August 29: Kathmandu – We finalize last minute paperwork with the Nepal and Tibet governments.
August 30: Lhasa – We fly to Lhasa and the fascinating world of Tibet. We transfer to our hotel downtown. Elevation at Lhasa is over 12,000 feet.
August 31 – September 1: Acclimatizing and Sightseeing in Lhasa – We have an opportunity to visit the popular and awe inspiring Potala Palace, Lhasa’s most renowned landmark.
September 2: Drive to Shigatse and visit the Tashilhunpo Monastery – We travel by 4x4 Land Crusiers across the Tibetan plateau. We arrive in Shigatse, the second largest city of Tibet, in the afternoon.
September 3: Drive to New Tringri – Today will be a long travel day. Lunch stop will be in the town of Lhatse at 4000 meters.
September 4 – 6: Cho Oyu Base Camp – We drive through the scenic countryside to base camp. The next morning we will take an acclimatization hike to 18,000 feet.
September 7 – 8: Trek to Advance Base Camp – After breakfast we will depart on our two-day journey to Cho Oyu ABC. We will forge through the ice cold Ra Chhu River and set up intermediate camp. The following morning we trek to ABC and camp next to the Nangpa La. Camp will be at 5800 meters.
September 9 – October 4: Cho Oyu Climb – Our strategy is to place 3 or 4 higher camps above our ABC to enable us to be in a good position for our summit bid.
October 5: Depart Cho Oyu Base Camp – Our yaks will arrive in the morning. We trek down to base camp and arrive late in the day.
October 6: Drive to Zhangmu – In the morning we will have a quick clean-up of the base camp area before the trucks pick us up there.
October 7: Drive to Kathmandu – After checking through with the Chinese border patrol and customs, we drive through the lush country of Nepal.
October 8: Extra Day in Kathmandu
October 9: Fly Home


Cho Oyu Dispatch #4, 9-9-07

A lama told us it was best to hold our puja ceremony on the 9th, so this somewhat changed our plans as scheduled. On the 8th, Brad, Ziggy and myself made a carry to Camp 1 at 6400 meters. The previous day our Sherpas were only able to erect one Mountain Hardwear tent due to strong winds. Upon arrival I set up the other tent myself. We held our puja ceremony on the 9th per the lama’s instructions. Tomorrow we will climb to Camp 1 after lunch. We will spend two nights there before climbing to Camp 2 at 7000 meters. We will then spend one night at Camp 2 before returning to ABC. Our Sherpas will climb directly to Camp 2 from ABC to establish camp and return directly to ABC in one day. Obviously all of these plans are contingent on favorable weather conditions.
-Phil Crampton

Cho Oyu Dispatch #3, 9-7-07

Brad and Ziggy arrived at basecamp as planned on the 3rd and we spent two nights there before loading the yaks and trekking to, and spending the night at an intermediate basecamp. We arrived at Advanced Base Camp the following day where our friends from the two Chinese expeditions had instructed their Tibetan sherpas to reserve us the same camp site as I had last year.

Tibetan Sherpas from several expeditions came and assisted our small team in erecting our kitchen, dining and sleeping tents and we are now located right in the middle of the large Chinese camp. More climbers will be arriving in the next few days and ABC will start to resemble a small tented village.

Our Tibetan sherpas, Thumba and Gonga, have already established Camp 1 and erected our bombproof Mountain Hardwear tents. Tomorrow we will hold our Puja ceremony and the following day, Brad, Ziggy and myself will begin to carry some personal things to camp 1.
- Phil Crampton

Cho Oyu Dispatch #2, 9-2-07

Baduram, our Nepalese cook, and myself met with our Tibetan Sherpas, Thumba and Gonga, and their kitchen assistants Sangjie and Tingli as planned on the 31st. The Tibetans and I have worked many Cho Oyu expeditions together in the past and these guys are all graduates of the Tibetan Mountaineering Guide School in Lhasa.

This will be Thumba's and Sangjie's fifth, Gonga's fourth, and my seventh expedition to the Turquoise God. We arrived at base camp the following day and quickly got to the task of establishing camp for the arrival of Brad and Ziggy on the 3rd. We hear that one of the earlier teams have now established camp 1 at 6400 meters and that the sherpas have already fixed ropes on the most technical sections of the entire climb, the ice wall at 6700 meters. If the weather stays good as it has been, Camp 2 should be established any day now.

Hopefully Brad and Ziggy have enjoyed their tour of Lhasa and Shigatse and we will let them report on their findings in the next dispatch. -Phil Crampton

Cho Oyu Dispatch #1, 8-29-07

The annual Mountain Madness Cho Oyu expedition has started with the arrival of Brad Crawford and Ziggy Skirucha in Kathmandu. The jet lagged pair did well to stay awake for the group dinner before retiring for the evening to the luxury of the Yak and Yeti hotel. A full-day guided tour of Kathmandu is now being followed by a scenic flight over Mount Everest to Lhasa where the pair will spend two days touring Potala Palace, the Jokhang, and other sites before driving toward base camp.

I travelled with our cooks over land and we plan to meet our Tibetan sherpas and the kitchen assistants in Tingri in a few days. The whole group should be together in base camp on the 3rd and where we will start to get ready to head up the yak trail to Advanced Base Camp. We will report more as things happen. -Phil Crampton

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