Cho Oyu

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Cho Oyu
The south side of Cho Oyu from Gokyo.
Highest point
Elevation 8,188 m (26,864 ft)
Ranked 6th
Prominence 2,340 m (7,680 ft) [1]
Isolation 29 km (18 mi)  OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg
Listing Eight-thousander
Coordinates 28°05′39″N86°39′39″E / 28.09417°N 86.66083°E / 28.09417; 86.66083 Coordinates: 28°05′39″N86°39′39″E / 28.09417°N 86.66083°E / 28.09417; 86.66083
English translationTurquoise Goddess
Language of name Tibetan
Nepal Province No 1 rel location map.svg
Red triangle with thick white border.svg
Cho Oyu
Location in Province No. 1, Nepal and Tibet Autonomous Region, China
Nepal rel location map.svg
Red triangle with thick white border.svg
Cho Oyu
Cho Oyu (Nepal)
China Tibet Autonomous Region rel location map.svg
Red triangle with thick white border.svg
Cho Oyu
Cho Oyu (Tibet)
Location Nepal (Province No. 1)–China (Tibet)
Parent range Mahalangur Himal, Himalayas
First ascent October 19, 1954 by Herbert Tichy, Joseph Jöchler, Pasang Dawa Lama
(First winter ascent 12 February 1985 Maciej Berbeka and Maciej Pawlikowski)
Easiest route snow/ice/glacier climb

Cho Oyu (Nepali: चोयु; Tibetan : ཇོ་བོ་དབུ་ཡ; Chinese :卓奥友峰) is the sixth-highest mountain in the world at 8,188 metres (26,864 ft) above sea level. Cho Oyu means "Turquoise Goddess" in Tibetan. [2] The mountain is the westernmost major peak of the Khumbu sub-section of the Mahalangur Himalaya 20 km west of Mount Everest. The mountain stands on the China Nepal border.


Just a few kilometres west of Cho Oyu is Nangpa La (5,716m/18,753 ft), a glaciated pass that serves as the main trading route between the Tibetans and the Khumbu's Sherpas. This pass separates the Khumbu and Rolwaling Himalayas. Due to its proximity to this pass and the generally moderate slopes of the standard northwest ridge route, Cho Oyu is considered the easiest 8,000 metre peak to climb. [3] It is a popular objective for professionally guided parties.


Cho Oyu's height was originally measured at 26,750 feet (8,150 m) and at the time of the first ascent it was considered the seventh highest mountain on earth, after Dhaulagiri at 8,167 metres (26,795 ft) (Manaslu, now 8,156 metres (26,759 ft), was also estimated lower at 26,658 feet (8,125 m)). [4] A 1984 estimate of 8,201 metres (26,906 ft) made it move up to sixth place. New measurements made in 1996 by the Government of Nepal Survey Department and the Finnish Meteorological Institute in preparation for the Nepal Topographic Maps put the height at 8,188 m, [5] one remarkably similar to the 26,867 feet (8,189 m) used by Edmund Hillary in his 1955 book High Adventure. [6]

Climbing history

Cho Oyu was first attempted in 1952 by an expedition organised and financed by the Joint Himalayan Committee of Great Britain as preparation for an attempt on Mount Everest the following year. The expedition was led by Eric Shipton and included Edmund Hillary, Tom Bourdillon and George Lowe. [7] A foray by Hillary and Lowe was stopped due to technical difficulties and avalanche danger at an ice cliff above 6,650 m (21,820 ft) and a report of Chinese troops a short distance across the border influenced Shipton to retreat from the mountain rather than continue to attempt to summit. [8]

The mountain was first climbed on October 19, 1954, via the north-west ridge by Herbert Tichy, Joseph Jöchler and Sherpa Pasang Dawa Lama of an Austrian expedition. [9] Cho Oyu was the fifth 8000 metre peak to be climbed, after Annapurna in June 1950, Mount Everest in May 1953, Nanga Parbat in July 1953 and K2 in July 1954. Until the ascent of Mount Everest by Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler in 1978, this was the highest peak climbed without supplemental oxygen. [10]

Viewing Cho Oyu via Tingri Chooyu.jpg
Viewing Cho Oyu via Tingri

Cho Oyu is considered the easiest eight-thousander, [nb 1] with the lowest death-summit ratio (125th of Annapurna's). [12] [13] It is the second most climbed eight-thousander after Everest (whose height makes it the most popular), and has over four times the ascents of the third most popular eight-thousander, Gasherbrum II. It is marketed as a "trekking peak", achievable for climbers with high fitness, but low mountaineering experience. [14] It has a broadly flat summit plateau with no cairn (the traditional prayer flags on Cho Oyu's summit plateau do not mark the "technical" summit), [nb 2] which can be a source of confusion, and debate, amongst climbers (see Elizabeth Hawley). [nb 3]


Accent by a team from China University of Geosciences (Wuhan) on 2 October 2008 Zhong Guo Di Zhi Da Xue (Wu Yi )Deng Shan Dui Deng Ding Zhuo Ao You Feng .JPG
Accent by a team from China University of Geosciences (Wuhan) on 2 October 2008
  • 1952 First reconnaissance of north-west face by Edmund Hillary and party. [9]
  • 1954 First ascent by Austrians Joseph Jöchler and Herbert Tichy, and Pasang Dawa Lama (Nepal) [9]
  • 1958 Second ascent of the peak, by an Indian expedition. Sherpa Pasang Dawa Lama reached the peak for the second time. First death on Cho Oyu. [9]
  • 1959 Four members killed in an avalanche during a failed international women's expedition. [9]
  • 1964 Controversial third ascent by a German expedition as there is no proof of reaching the summit. Two mountaineers die of exhaustion in camp 4 at 7,600 m (24,930 ft). [9]
  • 1978 Edi Koblmüller and Alois Furtner of Austria summit via the extremely difficult southeast face. [9]
  • 1983 Reinhold Messner succeeds on his fourth attempt, [9] with Hans Kammerlander and Michael Dacher.
  • 1984 Věra Komárková (USA) and Dina Štěrbová (Czechoslovakia) were the first women to climb Cho Oyu. Štěrbová was also the first woman from Czechoslovakia to climb an 8000er.
  • 1985 On February 12, Poles Maciej Berbeka and Maciej Pawlikowski make the first winter ascent via a new route on the southeast face. It is the only winter ascent on an eight-thousander made on a new route and the first winter ascent without additional oxygen support. The ascent was repeated three days later by Andrzej Heinrich and Jerzy Kukuczka, with Kukuczka setting an additional record for climbing two eight-thousanders during the same winter, as he had earlier climbed Dhaulagiri.
  • 1988 On November 2, a Slovenian expedition consisting of Iztok Tomazin, Roman Robas, Blaž Jereb, Rado Nadvešnik, Marko Prezelj, and Jože Rozman, reach the summit via the never before climbed north face.
  • 1994 On May 13 Carlos Carsolio sets a world record speed ascent from base camp to summit, ascending in 18 hours and 45 minutes. [17]
  • 1994 First solo ascent via the South West face by Yasushi Yamanoi. [18]
  • 2004 Second summit by a double amputee (Mark Inglis) [19]
  • 2007 Second Indian ascent. Expedition led by Abhilekh Singh Virdi. [20]
  • 2009 Clifton Maloney, husband of US Representative Carolyn Maloney and at that time the oldest American to summit an eight-thousander, [21] died at age 71 after summiting on 25 September. His final words were "I’m the happiest man in the world. I’ve just summited a beautiful mountain." [22]
  • 2011 Dutch climber Ronald Naar dies after becoming unwell at 8,000 m (26,250 ft). [23] [24]

See also

Viewing Cho Oyu via mountain flight Cho Oyu, Nepal.jpg
Viewing Cho Oyu via mountain flight

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  1. Of the fourteen mountains surpassing the magic number 8000 metres in height, it is considered the easiest one to climb, and only the highest, Everest, has had more ascents. [11]
  2. Many people who climb Cho Oyu in Tibet stop at a set of prayer flags with views of Everest and believe they’ve reached the top, unaware they still have to walk for 15 minutes across the summit plateau until they can see the Gokyo Lakes in Nepal. [15]
  3. Miss Hawley uses the “did you see Everest” as her standard question, I have mentioned this to her as well. I have summitted Cho Oyu 4 times and will be heading for my fifth this coming season. Each time I have watched the Koreans and Japanese go only to where they can see Everest, not the summit, because they know this is what will be asked. [16]
  1. "China I: Tibet - Xizang". Retrieved 2014-05-29.
  2. "NASA Earth Observatory: Cho Oyu". NASA. 2018.
  3. "Cho Oyu". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04.
  4. Tichy, Herbert (1957). Cho Oyu: by favour of the gods. Methuen. p. 195. Retrieved 2016-10-28.
  5. 2886 15 Pasan Lhamu Chuli map
  6. Hillary, Edmund (1955). High Adventure. Oxford University Press. p. 49.
  7. Barnett, Shaun (7 December 2010). "Cho Oyu expedition team, 1952". The Dictionary of New Zealand Biography.
  8. Hillary, pp. 79-80
  9. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Everest "Cho Oyu History" . Retrieved 2008-04-12.
  10. Günter Seyfferth, Cho Oyu, 8201 m, Erkundung, Erstbesteigung, Erstbegehungen, Ereignisse (in German)
  11. "Goddess of Turquoise: my attempt on Cho Oyu". Mark Horrell. August 2010.
  12. "Stairway to heaven". The Economist. 29 May 2013. Retrieved 2015-09-07As of March 2012
  13. "ALL 8000ers – ASCENTS vs FATALITIES". 2008.
  14. "Cho Oyu – World`s Sixth Highest and Most Accessible 8000 Metre Peak". 2018.
  15. "When is a summit not a summit?". Mark Horrell. 12 November 2014.
  16. "Cho Oyu summit: Where is it exactly". September 2017.
  17. "Guest: Carlos Carsolio". Outside Online. 2000. Archived from the original on 13 August 2007. Retrieved 2014-01-15.
  18. Griffin, Lindsay (11 Oct 2011). "Piolets d'Or Asia honours Urubko". The British Mountaineering Council. Retrieved 2014-01-15.
  19. "Double amputee scales Mt Everest". BBC News. 16 May 2006. Retrieved 2014-05-17.
  20. "Timeline Climbing Of Cho Oyu". June 2011. Retrieved 2014-01-15.
  21. "Clifton Maloney, 71, died on one of highest peaks". Archived from the original on 10 October 2016. Retrieved 2017-11-08.
  22. "Rep. Carolyn Maloney's Husband Dies During Mountain Climb - Gothamist". 2009-10-01. Archived from the original on 2009-10-01. Retrieved 2017-11-08.
  23. "Dutch Climber Ronald Naar dies on Cho Oyu". The Outside Blog Dispatches. Outside Online. 25 May 2011. Retrieved 2014-01-15.
  24. "Dutch mountaineer Ronald Naar dies during China climb". 23 May 2011. Retrieved 2014-01-15.


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