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Updated: January 2012. Click on an image to see the FULL size with a caption.
Cho Oyu (8201m) is the sixth highest mountain in the world, located on the border of Tibet (China) and Nepal about 30 km to the west of Mount Everest. Cho Oyu is probably the easiest of the world's 14 8000m peaks, and is second to Everest for the most ascents. It is a technically straightforward climb with the best safety record for an 8000m mountain.
Despite its size, the British India Survey did not at first assign Cho Oyu a peak number. Cho Oyu means 'Turquoise Goddess' in Tibetan, the peak glowing turquoise when seen from Tibet at sunset. As goddess in Tibetan is chomo and turquoise is yu, the contraction of chomo yu becomes Cho Oyu.
Just west of Cho Oyo, near Advanced Base Camp, is the Nangpa La, a 5500m glacier pass that is a major trade route between the Nepalese Khumbu Sherpas and Tibet.
To the east of Cho Oyu is little known Gyachung Kang (7952m), the fifteenth highest mountain in the world, or, to put it another way, the highest non-8000m mountain in the world. Gyachung Kang was first climbed on April 10, 1964 by Japanese climbers Yukihiko Kato, Kiyoto Sakaizawa and Pasang Phutar Sherpa. The first ascent of the North Face of Gyachung Kang was done in pure alpine style with Slovenians Tomaz Jakofcic and Peter Meznar reaching the summit on October 31, 1999. Andrej Stremfelj, Marko Car, Marko Prezelj, and Matic Jost reached the summit on the next day.
In contrast to the huge expedition style sieges of the time, in 1954 a small Austrian Expedition attempted Cho Oyu via the northwest ridge with only three climbers and seven Sherpas. Their first attempt failed in fierce hurricane force winds. They regrouped, with Sherpa Pasang Dawa Lama having to descend to Namche to get more supplies. In just three days he went from Namche to the summit on October 19, 1954, a remarkable achievement. With him on the summit were Herbert Tichy and Sepp Joechler.
"Pasang embraced me. The tears that ran down his cheeks were blown away into eternity as crystals of ice. ... Sepp and I had tears in our eyes too, and felt no shame. We hugged and kissed each other. How glad I was all three of us were there. All three walked arm in arm to the highest point."
The first ascent of the difficult and dangerous southeast face of Cho Oyu was done in 1978 by Austrians Eduard Koblmuller and Alois Furtner.
The first ascent of Cho Oyu in winter was completed on February 12, 1985 by Maciej Berbeka and Maciej Pawlikowski by a new route, the hard south ridge. Three days later Zygmunt Heinrich and Jerzy Kukuczka climbed along the same route.
The first ascent of the North Face of Cho Oyu was made by Slovenians, with Iztok Tomazin reaching the Cho Oyu summit on November 2, 1988. He descended on the normal route, the first crossing of Cho Oyu. Viki Groselj and Joze Rozman reached the Cho Oyu summit on November 5, Rado Nadvesnik and Marko Prezelj on November 8, and Blaz Jereb and the leader of the expedition, Roman Robas, on November 9.