Dispatches - Cho Oyu 2003

October 11, 2003

During the autumn season of 2003 Adventure Consultants operated an expedition to Cho Oyu (8,210m/26,906ft).

Adventure Consultants Cho Oyu Expedition 2003 Dispatches

August 31 - Cho Oyu 2003
After many months of preparation, the Adventure Consultants Cho Oyu Expedition 2003 team members are meeting in Kathmandu today. They will spend tomorrow finalising details for the six week expedition and will then fly from Kathmandu to Lhasa, Tibet on Tuesday September 2. The expedition team members are;

Expedition Leader: Mike Roberts - New Zealand
Assistant Guide: Dean Staples - New Zealand

Climbers: 
Lewis Gomes - Australia
Piers Buck - Australia
Anthony Baldry - Australia
Ed Bradley - Australia
Alan Gianotti - USA
Greg Konrath - USA
Roland Carel - France/USA

Expedition Sirdar: Ang Tshering Sherpa - Nepal
Base Camp Cook: Chhongba Sherpa - Nepal

Climbing Sherpas:
Chhuldim Sherpa - Nepal
Phu Tashi Sherpa - Nepal
Passang Tenzing Sherpa - Nepal
Lhakpa Dorje Sherpa - Nepal

Dispatch 2

September 1 - 3, Kathmandu to Lhasa
The Adventure Consultants Cho Oyu Expedition 2003 commenced with a group introductory meal at a well known restaurant in Kathmandu's Thamel district called Killroys. The food was up to expectations and members made the most of this opportunity to partake in salads and exotic desserts. The 1st of September was a day for resting and getting over jet lag, last minute shopping, sightseeing and finishing the final expedition organisation. Special thanks go to our six Sherpa staff who worked very hard to prepare and pack the expedition equipment. In Kathmandu our umbrellas certainly had a lot of action as the monsoon has been very heavy this season.

On September 2nd we took a China Airlines flight from Kathmandu to Lhasa in Tibet. There were fantsatic views of Everest, Makalu and other Himalayan Giants. I think we will long be joking about the inflight snack we were served - a glass of water and a bread roll with no filling. The funny part was watching people's faces as they tried to discern the contents of the rolls. Meanwhile, our expedition equipment was loaded into a truck and has begun the overland trip to Tibet via the Friendship Highway with our six Sherpas. This is the route by which we will return to Nepal at the conclusion of the expedition.

Our hotel in Lhasa, the Shang Billa (this is not misspelt!) is situated in the Barkhor Area, which is in the heart of the old Tibetan part of town. After our arrival, we all ventured out for a stroll around Lhasa's most interesting Kora (pilgrimage circuit) called the Barkhor. The Barkhor circuit follows a quadrangle of streets that surround the Jokhang, the most revered religious structure in Tibet. Dinner was at a restaurant called the Summit which has a large indoor climbing wall adjoining it. It seems most members chose to eat from the Western Menu.

Today was spent sightseeing in Lhasa and adjusting to the altitude. At 3,600m one feels the altitude when walking quickly up stairs or doing slightly strenuous exercise. In the morning we toured the Jokhang, a large highly ornate Buddhist structure with multiple different chapels and sacred rooms. The Jokhang was bustling with Tibetian worshippers and tourists alike. The roof offers spectacular photo opportunities of this part of Lhasa and the Potala.

Our afternoon was spent touring the Potala, Lhasa's cardinal landmark and a marvel of eastern architecture. The Potala is a massive awe-inspiring structure. Since it's construction in the 1600's the Potala has been the home of successive Dalai Lamas and it also served as the seat of the Tibetan Government.

Tomorrw (4/9) we will head to Shigatse (3,900m) by jeep with our Chineese Tibetan Mountaineering Association Guide, Pisan. This is a journey of some 250km to the SW of Lhasa via the Northern Friendship Highway. Shigatse has long been an important trading and administrative centre. Here we will visit Tashilhunpo Monastery, a significant Buddhist Temple and Shigatse's foremost attraction.

After one night at Shigatse (our last luxurious accomodation) we will drive to the high Tibetan town of Tingri (4,400m) where we will spend two nights (5-6/9) for acclimatisation reasons. Our second day in Tingri will be spent hiking in the local hills and enjoying the views of the high Himalaya, including Everest, which are offered from this location. Our arrival at the road end, known as Chinese Base Camp (CBC), is planned for the 7th September. After our arrival at CBC web updates will occur on a regular basis.

Expedition members are in high spirits and are taking the time to enjoy the cultural aspects of this expedition while acclimatising.

Mike Roberts

Dispatch 4

September 5 - Live Dispatch call from Shigatse
This is Mike Roberts with an Adventure Consultants live dispatch call on September 5th from the Tibetan town of Shigatse. This is our first test live dispatch!

Yesterday we drove by jeep from Lhasa to Shigatse along the Friendship highway. This was a rough seven hour drive. Shigatse, at 3,900m, is the second largest town in Tibet and like most modern Tibetan towns it is divided into a distinct Tibetan corner and a newer rapidly expanding Chinatown.

This morning before driving to Tingri we will visit the Tashilhunpo Monastery. The Tashilhunpo is one of the few monasteries in Tibet that weathered the Cultural Revolution relatively unscathed. This monastery is essentially a walled town in it's own right with cobbled lanes twisting around ancient buildings. It is the largest functioning monastic institution in Tibet - the Monastery has a very high profile. Tomorrow we are all looking forward to going for a hike in the hills near Tingri.

This is Mike Roberts signing off from the Adventure Consultants Cho Oyu 2003 Expedition

September 6 – Tingri
On arriving at Tingri (4,400m) last night, we were reunited with our Sherpa team who had a straightforward trip from Kathmandu. The Tibetan town of Tingri is a small shabby huddle of dwellings where you expect tumbleweeds to be rolling down the main road in a second rate western movie. Being situated at the base of the towering Himalaya and offering views of Everest, the location of Tingri is indeed spectacular.

Today it was with great relief that for the first time in a week we donned trekking boots and went for a walk in the arid hills above Tingri. The views of Cho Oyu were fantastic and inspiring. All members are psyched after getting the first view of the mountain they have come to climb. Hurray for now.

Mike Roberts

September 6 – Tingri
On arriving at Tingri (4,400m) last night, we were reunited with our Sherpa team who had a straightforward trip from Kathmandu. The Tibetan town of Tingri is a small shabby huddle of dwellings where you expect tumbleweeds to be rolling down the main road in a second rate western movie. Being situated at the base of the towering Himalaya and offering views of Everest, the location of Tingri is indeed spectacular.

Today it was with great relief that for the first time in a week we donned trekking boots and went for a walk in the arid hills above Tingri. The views of Cho Oyu were fantastic and inspiring. All members are psyched after getting the first view of the mountain they have come to climb. Hurray for now.

Mike Roberts.

September 8 - Chinese Base Camp 4,900m
Today began with a team photo session against the striking background of Cho Oyu set in blue skies. This was followed by a refresher in ascending fixed ropes and rappelling on a bluff above camp. As of this year the road now goes from Chinese Base Camp to the interim valley camp at 5300m. A new bridge means we will not even get our feet wet tomorrow. The sound of yak bells fills the valley. Looking forward to heading off.

Mike Roberts

September 10 - Base Camp 5,600m
Our two day trek from Chinese Base Camp to BC proper (or ABC as it is sometimes called) was characterized by beautiful mornings giving great views, afternoon snow showers, the antics of yaks and the definite feeling that we were climbing into thin air.

From BC (5,600m) there are fantastic views of Cho Oyu and the surrounding peaks. Adjacent to BC is Nangpa La (pass) which is a historic trading route between Tibet and Nepal. This afternoon we saw a yak train crossing from the Khumbu Region of Nepal.

Tomorrow is a planned rest and organization day at BC. Hurray for now.

Mike Roberts

September 11 - First day at Base Camp
Our first day at Base Camp was spent sorting out our personal tents washing and getting the phone & email working.

This afternoon was the first we've had without a pm snow shower so we made good use of that and organized food for all our high camps .

The Sherpas did a carry to camp 1 up & back in 4 hours, tomorrow it will be our turn we're leaving at 6 am for a day trip to Camp 1 (C1) .I'm sure it will be longer than 4 hours.

Dean Staples

September 12 - Load carry to Camp 1
The 5.00am alarm this morning consisted of Sherpa tea and a hot towel delivered to our tents. What a luxurious way to wake up! Then we were treated to a moonlit alpine panorama in crystal clear skies.

Today all members successfully carried a load to C1 (6,400m) and then returned to BC. This trip involves first walking on the moraine of the Gyabrag Glacier. Navigation is aided by piles of rocks called cairns (as per photo). The second part of the trip involves climbing up a steep broken rock / scree slope which tests ones physical dexterity and co-ordination on the descent.

After today's nine hour day there are sun tanned faces and there will be some muscle aches and pains in the morning. Dinner tonight was Thai with a tropical fruit desert. Conversation over over dinner was somewhat subdued as folks were tired from the days exertion. Tomorrow is a well deserved rest day and a good opportunity to christen the shower.

Team spirits are high and we are all humbled by the majesty of the mountain.

Mike Roberts

Dispatch 8

September 13 - Expedition Medicine
Mike has kindly asked me to write a little something on practicing medicine up here in the Himalayas. The one thing I do know after expeditions to Nepal, Pakistan and Tibet is that difficult events are hard to predict, but common things are common and that is no exception here.

So far we have seen our share of 'Tibetan' food poisoning, back strains, diarrhea, coughs, colds, eye infections, finger injuries, skin abscess, corneal abrasions, and headaches. Headaches are worth extra mention because they are so common. Those of us from 'Starbucks Country' explain these off as caffeine withdrawal headaches, but headaches from sinus infections, dehydration, hangovers, sun exposure, tension, and migraines are all possible. The one headache that we need to think about first though, is the headache associated with AMS (acute mountain sickness).

However, AMS is not the only ailment up here. As we ascend to altitude (6000 meters, 20000 feet), common 'altitude ailments' are common (again) and include: sun burns (no protective ozone at altitude), ulcers (our gastric lining decreases at altitude), sleep disturbance (our sleeping/breathing patterns change in the thin air), nose bleeds (dry mucous membranes in this dry air), and yes, gas (though malodorous gas may be common for a lot of the guys, it is especially true at altitude and even has a scientific name, HAFE (high altitude flatulent expulsion).

That said, High Altitude Cerebral and Pulmonary Edema (HACE/HAPE) is in the back of all of our minds (and lungs). Our climbing/acclimatization schedules are based on the laws governing these ailments, we constantly evaluate each other for their signs and we even train each other on treatment techniques (more on HACE and HAPE another day). Rest assured AC has the best medical kit in the business. In combination with international communication, the set-up we have here at Cho Oyu is the envy of all 14 expeditions at base camp.

We remind ourselves daily how lucky we are to have family and friends supporting us at home, and how great it is to be healthy and awaking to another beautiful Himalayan sunrise.

Alan Gianotti
Expedition Doctor

Dispatch 10

September 14 - Puja
According to the Tibetan calendar today was deemed auspicious for our Puja, a Buddhist Sherpa ceremony performed before expedition members and Sherpas commence climbing. Trips to Camp 1 on Cho Oyu are permitted prior to the Puja because no technical climbing is involved.

The ceremony was performed by a Monk who prayed and chanted for the safety and success of the expedition. Offerings to the Gods were made on a stone altar decorated with pictures of the Dalai Lama and other Buddhist artifacts.

From the altar a 'puja pole' extends upwards and provides the central point for attaching a spiral of brightly colored blessed prayer flags that radiate over our camp. During the ceremony a piece of red string called a Sungdi was placed around our necks. These Sungdis have been blessed by a High Lama from Kathmandu.

Tomorrow all members are looking forward to our first overnight trip to Camp 1.

Hurray for now.

Mike Roberts

September 15 - First overnight to Camp 1
After another over night snow fall we wake up to a great day . The Sherpas have already left to set up the tents at Camp 1.

The team is packing and we are about go to Camp 1 for our first acclimatisation night. We'll be back at base camp tomorrow night after a trip up to the ice cliffs at about 6,600m.

Bye for now

Dean Staples

Dispatch 12

September 16 - Camp 1 Overnight
On September 15, after a leisurely breakfast, we traced our steps along the now familiar route to C1.

Squally weather (intermittent snow showers) gave way to a short-lived but nasty blizzard that had us all putting on our storm gear. Our tents at Camp 1 were a very welcome retreat from the horizontally blowing snow.

One's first night at a significantly higher altitude (in this case 6400m) is typically characterized by broken sleep, frequent trips to the toilet, wild dreams and possibly a head ache. There were no exceptions in our group!

This morning I awoke to find I had overslept my alarm by 45 minutes and that all was quiet within our expedition tents. When I attempted to rouse folks I was told it was 5.45am and not 6.45 am (wake up time was 6.00am). A closer look at my watch showed it had reset itself to January 1 2000 and was reading 6.45pm?

From Camp 1 all members successfully climbed upwards on snow and ice for about 3 hours to an 'ice cliff band'. This extension to our Camp 1 overnight trip is undertaken to aid further acclimatization and for route familiarization. In the image below Dean and Greg are seen climbing on the fixed ropes.

Tonight members are back at BC, replete from pizza and mango, and looking forward to sleeping in the comparatively thick air.

Hurray for now.

Mike Roberts

September 17 - Sushi night
After a sleep in to recover from our long day yesterday breakfast consisted of NZ bacon, coffee & pancakes.

We all were treated to hot showers and some clothes washing just before today's snow storm set in which lasted the rest of the day.

Our Sherpas did their first load carry of tents to camp 2 in preparation for our overnight trip in a couple of days.

The team is acclimatizing well so tomorrow, weather depending we will head off to camp 1 for the night and then up to camp 2 (7000m) for another night before coming back to base camp .

Resting and eating well are all part of a good acclimatization plan as you can see from the photo below with Ang Tsering & Chhoumba Sherpa serving us Sushi in our heated dining tent.

Dean Staples

September 18 - Cho Oyu from Camp 1
This dispatch is being written by torch light from my Camp 1 tent to the sound of a roaring gas stove melting snow.

Our third trip to Camp 1 in eight days has been completed successfully. The benefits of systematic acclimatization can be seen by the increased appetites and greater feeling of well being that folks have this time around.

The day began with the sight of Cho Oyu boldly outlined against a sky streaked with high picturesque cirrus cloud. By mid morning we were enveloped in misty light snow. Shortly after arriving at Camp 1 we were treated to some sunshine.

The attached photo shows Dean posing in front of Cho Oyu with Camp 1 in the foreground. On summit day we will climb the large snow face (North West Face) on a diagonal from left to right.

Cheers for now

Mike Roberts

September 19 - Camp 2
I'm siting in my tent at Camp 2 (close to 7,000m) writing this dispatch and trying to melt enough snow to hydrate. At the same time I am watching the sun set on cumulus clouds over Nepal; a fantastic sight shown in the attached photo.

Today was the hardest day yet. The route from Camp 1 to Camp 2 involved carrying packs for approximately 700m elevation. This section of the route included negotiating a 10 -15 m ice cliff, crossing a hot crevassed basin and then climbing a steep slope that seemed to go on for ever.

The team has done a great job to get here today. It is an important part of our acclimatization and after we have spent the night here we will descend to base camp tomorrow.

Dean Staples

September 21 - Sunday Brunch
It's Sunday brunch; the coffee flows, the heater churns and our stomachs are stretched from eating a profusion of pancakes and scrambled eggs. The weather at BC is atrocious; visibility is reduced to the extent that the tents of our neighboring camp are hardly visible. Snow settles around camp.

We listen to radio reports of other climbing teams making a summit bid in clear air three vertical kilometers above us. A reality both wondrous and very far removed from our own. We speculate that these potential summitters may get engulfed in snow cloud during their descent.

Lethargy is deep and deserved in our dinning tent. Having successfully spent a night at Camp 2 and returned to BC our acclimatization program is now complete, short of a much deserved and needed period of rest.

We would like to say goodbye to Greg Kontrath who has returned to the USA after his daughter had an accident. May she recover quickly.

Hurray for now.

Mike Roberts

Dispatch 16

September 21 - Sunday Brunch
It's Sunday brunch; the coffee flows, the heater churns and our stomachs are stretched from eating a profusion of pancakes and scrambled eggs. The weather at BC is atrocious; visibility is reduced to the extent that the tents of our neighboring camp are hardly visible. Snow settles around camp.

We listen to radio reports of other climbing teams making a summit bid in clear air three vertical kilometers above us. A reality both wondrous and very far removed from our own. We speculate that these potential summitters may get engulfed in snow cloud during their descent.

Lethargy is deep and deserved in our dinning tent. Having successfully spent a night at Camp 2 and returned to BC our acclimatization program is now complete, short of a much deserved and needed period of rest.

We would like to say goodbye to Greg Kontrath who has returned to the USA after his daughter had an accident. May she recover quickly.

Hurray for now.

Mike Roberts

September 21 - Because it's there
How wonderful it is to rest when one feels deserving! Today: Observing the agony of other teams trying to determine the most advantageous date to stage summit attempts (two teams retreated today). Fantasizing about favourite foods (and other things) has reached a serious level (this is day 22 out of Kathmandu). Sleep ... roast lamb and chocolate frosted sponge cake for dinner... bargaining with a yak man for Lhasa Beer..... anticipation of the hard climb ahead ...

In the feature below Roland Carel contemplates the ultimate question on why we climb. 

Because it's there.
When asked why he climbed mountains, Sir Edmund Hillary, conqueror of Everest with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, reportedly responded: "Because it's there". Does the same justification apply today for the many climbers who attempt to reach the top of high peaks? Given the substantial commitment of resources involved in participating in an expedition to an 8000m peak, what is the draw that attracts 10's to 100's every year to the far reaches of the Himalayas where all 8000+ m (26200') mountains are located?

Today, most people attempting high altitude climbs are not career cl¡mbers. Rather they tend to be successful urban professionals who for one reason or another are drawn to the aetheral environment of high altitude.

Seen from the outside, it is a strange attraction. Indeed joining an expedition requires leaving family and friends for 1 to 2 months, a substantial financial investment, and physical hardships. The objective reality of high altitude is that it is cold, sometimes really cold, and that the partial pressure of oxygen is a fraction of that at sea level (approximately 70% at 3000m, 50% at 6000m, and 36% at 8200m-the height of Cho Oyu).

These conditions make it difficult to perform activities usually taken for granted, e.g., walking up a moderate snowy slope with a ligthly loaded backpack. Walking up a 30% snow slope in full climbing gear and carrying the myriad pieces of equipment and clothing necessary at high altitude can be an agonizing exercise.

For many, reaching a high summit is a goal that they set for themselves. For others going on an expedition is a break from the daily routine. For all, the pristine environment of high altitude where one is surrounded by unspeakable beauty is justification enough.

All others climb mountains "because it's there".

-Roland Carel

September 23 - Summit Bid
This morning began with a prolonged period of weather forecast evaluation and deliberation. The tension was high! The time has come to hedge our bets on the weather and begin our summit bid.

The plan over the next three days is to progressively move up the mountain to Camps 1, 2, and 3. Our summit bid is scheduled for Friday 26th all going well.

The attached image is of Lewis practicing with oxygen apparatus during our training session yesterday. We will be giving regular web updates during our summit bid.

Cheers for now

Mike Roberts

Dispatch 18

September 23 - Into the Cloud
Today's horizontal blowing snow (quite bleak for a while) and densely overcast skies ensured we did not begin our summit attempt with any misconceptions about how unpredictable the present weather pattern is. Weather forecast confidence levels are high that we will not be troubled by strong winds during our summit attempt. However, the frequent light snowfalls of late (associated with low visibility) have been occurring in a highly random manner and are forecast to continue with as little predictability.

The effectiveness of our acclimatization program has been proven by how much easier everyone found this trip to Camp 1. The routine of snuggling into ones sleeping bag, hydrating and cooking is now well established.

It was excellent to hear that Greg was quickly reunited with his family in the USA. Greg, your messages of good luck were received this morning. Very timely. Thank you!

Today our hard working climbing Sherpa team moved up to Camp 2 in preparation for establishing Camp 3 tomorrow.

Everyone is excited to be underway and psyched to give the summit push their 100%.

Until Camp 2 tomorrow

Mike Roberts

September 24 - High Winds
After a turbulent weather day the Adventure Consultants party, along with several other groups, remains confined to Camp 1. Did I say on my last dispatch that the weather forecast confidence level in predicting wind velocity was high? That myth was dispelled this morning when I was woken to the roar of wind and the flapping of tent nylon. By our reckoning 10 m/s translates to 20 knots and not the 40 to 50 which has been the order of much of today.

The waiting game is always tedious.

The one or two reading books we have are now divided into multiple parts. Mornings and evenings are cold while the 'glasshouse effect' creates tremendous heat in our tents during the middle of the day.

What will be tomorrow bring? Who has the Crystal Ball!

Mike Roberts

September 25 - Camp 2 Revisited
It is a spectacular evening at Camp 2. Stars abound on a horizon of endless Himalayan Peaks. Some folks from other groups are planning to make a summit bid from Camp 2 tonight. We wish them luck.

For most this second trip to Camp 2 was a little easier than the first but not by much! An afternoon of rest was most welcome.

The plan tomorrow, weather permitting, is to head to Camp 3 in the morning. This involves 400m of climbing on moderate snow slopes. The afternoon will then be spent resting on oxygen. All going well we will set out for the summit during the early hours of the 27th. Dean and I will keep you updated via live voice dispatches.

Best Wishes to all

Mike Roberts

September 26 - 7 PM (local) - Summit Push!
Mike Roberts calling in. Weather beautiful. Summit push midnight local!

September 27 - 2 AM (local) - They are off!
Mike calling in. The team left for summit push just minutes ago.

September 27 - 1 PM (local) - Summit!
Mike Roberts calling in. Team at Camp 3 after a successful summit bid.

September 28 - 8 AM (local) - Back in Camp 2
Mike calling in. After spending the night at Camp 2 the them are now continuing their descent to BC.

September 28 - Celebrations
Yes, back to BC! What a relief to feel the relatively thick air of 5,600m. The luxury of an extremely well catered heated dining tent is much appreciated. The local music system competes with rasping high altitude coughs. Right now we're all struggling to get our appetites back while revelling in the sensory experiences of our remote version of sophisticated society.

Our team is elated and high spirited at our summit success. We would have liked Ed and Greg to have been with us. All of us feel extremely grateful for the enormous help we received from our strong Sherpa Team (feature article to follow).

We were remarkably fortunate that with a prevailing weather pattern of afternoon snow storms 27 September remained clear all day. Our times to the summit varied from 5.5 hrs to 7.0 hrs. The use of oxygen while somewhat surreal and alien is highly advantageous. While I do not wish to belittle the achievement of those climbing without oxygen, the majority of the oxygenless climbers looked gaunt, faces blue tinted, leaning over iceaxes gasping for air.

Piers wishes me to report tales of heroism and hardship. None of this fine days, pleasant times stuff. Rather, the technical difficulties of surmounting the short rock step called the yellow band; crampons scraping to make purchase on the snowslopes; anguishing headaches ... what about the difficulties of answering the call of nature at 8000m?

The topographically insignificant summit (i.e., a large plateau) harbors fantastic views of Everest and other Himalayan Giants. The attached photo shows Lewis on the summit of Cho Oyu with Everest in the background.

Tomorrow while our Sherpa staff clears the remainder of our expedition gear from the mountain, members will be resting, showering and preparing for our departure. Our yaks are scheduled to arrive on 30 September. On 1 October we will depart from BC, hike to the road end and then travel by jeep to the town of Tingri. All going well we will be in Kathmandu on the evening 2 September.

Expedition celebrations have interfered with the timely delivery of this dispatch!

Cheers

Mike Roberts

September 29 - Mind the Yak
The weather at BC is absolutely miserable. Snow, sleet, windy! A perfect day for self satisfied wallowing. The harrowed lines of high altitude hardship mellow.

BC activity is now revolving around packing. About 100 yaks arrived today. Mind the yak! Conversation is rich and varied at the dinning table. A lot of talk about which venue will host our final expedition dinner in Kathmandu. We are still far from a consensus!

Unfortunately, Dean has had to make a hurried return to NZ due to a family grievance. Our deepest sympathies are extended to Dean and his family.

Cheers for now

Mike Roberts

Dispatch 22

October 1 - Our Sherpas
Without the hard work of our Sherpas we would not have climbed Cho Oyu. Our gratitude to our six Sherpa staff is huge. 

Sherpas by nature are softly spoken, uncomplaining, humble, trustworthy and enormously strong. They are completely at home in the mountains and are quite unfazpd by inclement weather.

The traditional duties of a Climbing Sherpa focussed around load carrying - stocking and setting up camps. As Sherpas became more skilled they started establishing routes and fixing ropes. Today climbing Sherpas are often more technically skilled than their western counterparts. Sherpas remain legendary for their ability to carry large loads into the rarefied air.

The most professional Climbing Sherpas are now learning the role of personalized guiding. On summit day Sherpas carry extra oxygen, break trail in deep snow and are involved in the management of daily details.

Our four Climbing Sherpas are veterans of many Himalayan expeditions and each has summitted Everest at least once. Some Sherpas who perform well on big mountains like Everest are not suited for technical mountains like Ama Dablam. Our team of four are all agile and able on demanding rock steps. (Lhakpa Dorje, Phu Tashi and Passang Tenzing will be working on the upcoming Adventure Consultants Ama Dablam expedition).

Phu Tashhi is married with two children and owns a trekking lodge in Upper Pangboche run by his wife. Small of stature and huge in spirit Phu Tashi is capable of carrying enormous loads. Phu Tashi is very attentive to the well being of others. Never found without a picture of his Lama while on the mountain, he is often heard chanting his prayers late at night.

Lhakpa Dorje has an amazing smile, is endlessly helpful and is married with four children. The only person to have twice summitted Makalu, the fifth highest mountain in the world, his second ascent being with Adventure Consultants in 2000.

Chuldim, our Climbing Sirdar, is a reserved man of enormous experience who has the respect of all. He is very focussed on successfully organizing the objectives of the expedition. This was his 6th expedition to Cho Oyu and upon completing this oxygenless ascent he was found dancing on the summit. A man of refined tastes, he appreciates good tobacco and fine spirits. He is a father of four and his 21 year old daughter is about to start nursing school in India.

Passang Tenzing at 26 is the youngest of our team and has summitted Everest three times. He is the perennial Himalayan race horse; strong, fast and very willing. A new father, Passang is dedicated to speaking proficient English. This was Passang's first expedition to Cho Oyu and he never doubted he would reach the summit.

Chhongba, our fantastic expedition cook, has worked for Adventure Consultants since 1992. In the 1970's Chhongba worked one expedition as a climbing Sherpa and decided this was not for him. He then became a mail runner before finding that his forte was in the kitchen. There is a lot more to Chonngba than his fastidious preparation of wonderful varied meals; Chhongba has studied law and has read the Nepalese Constitution word for word. Chhongba is a father of six who has been unable to return home for the past two years because his village in the Solu Khumbu is heavily occupied by Maoists.

Ang Tshering, our Expedition Sirdar, has worked continuously in expedition mountaineering since the early 1970's. From his beginnings as a Climbing Sherpa Ang Tshering moved into cooking and then expedition organization which he has excelled at for over a decade. Ang Tshering has seven grandchildren and when he is not on an expedition he lives between Kathmandu and the village of Khumjong. On a daily basis Ang Tshering reads Tibetan Buddhist scriptures and keeps us entertained with his great sense of humor.

Our final dispatch for this expedition will be written from Kathmandu.

Hurray for now

Mike Roberts

October 11 - Farewell From Cho Oyu 2003
After a week of ice cream and high living in Kathmandu it is time to say the final farewell for the 2003 Cho Oyu expedition. Climbing in a spectacular Himalayan location, experiencing Tibetan culture and making new friends were key elements to the success of this trip. And of course, the icing on the cake was reaching the summit.

I would like to thank many people for making this expedition a success. Our hard working Sherpa staff, the incredibly resourceful Adventure Consultants NZ team and the patient and humorous expedition team members. And a final thanks to all of you for following our progress. We at Adventure Consultants hope to see you in the future.

Dispatch 24

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