Climbing Cho Oyu: The Sixth Highest Mountain in the World

Climbing Cho Oyu: The Sixth Highest Mountain in the World

Monday, July 17, 2023

Cho Oyu, also known as Cho Oyu, is the sixth-highest mountain in the world, standing proudly at 8,201 meters (26,906 feet) above sea level. Located in the Himalayas on the border of Nepal and Tibet, Cho Oyu offers a thrilling and challenging climb for mountaineers from around the globe. In this blog post, we will delve into the intricacies of climbing Cho Oyu, covering essential aspects such as permits, expedition planning, route options, and the thrilling experience of reaching its majestic summit.

Cho Oyu holds the distinction of being recognized as the “cheapest 8000m peak to climb.” Compared to its towering counterparts, such as Mount Everest and K2, Cho Oyu offers a more cost-effective option for mountaineers seeking to conquer one of the world’s highest mountains.¬†


Top of Cho Oyu
Top of Cho Oyu

Cho Oyu, the sixth-highest peak in the world, offers a thrilling and challenging climbing experience for mountaineers. Situated in the Himalayas on the border of Nepal and Tibet, this majestic mountain demands technical climbing skills and high-altitude expertise. With routes like the West Ridge and West Face, climbers navigate glaciers, ice seracs, and steep snow slopes while benefiting from breathtaking panoramic views.

Cho Oyu requires proper training, teamwork, and acclimatization to overcome its formidable challenges and reach the summit at 8,201 meters (26,906 feet) above sea level.

While the expenses associated with such expeditions are still substantial, Cho Oyu’s relatively lower permit fees and expedition costs make it an attractive choice for climbers aiming to reach the summit of an 8,000-meter peak without breaking the bank.

It is important to note, however, that despite being the “cheapest” option, proper planning, skilled guides, and adequate resources are still crucial for a safe and successful ascent of Cho Oyu.

Understanding Cho Oyu

Cho Oyu: The Mountain and Its Significance

Cho Oyu, often referred to as “the Turquoise Goddess,” is a prominent mountain peak in the Mahalangur Himal subrange. Its name translates to “Turquoise Goddess” in Tibetan, derived from the prominent turquoise color of its ice seracs. Standing just west of the mighty Mount Everest, Cho Oyu offers a mesmerizing view of the world’s highest mountain during the ascent.

Cho Oyu: A High-Altitude Challenge

Climbing Cho Oyu is a significant endeavor that requires mountaineers to be well-prepared physically, mentally, and logistically. It is considered one of the more achievable 8,000-meter peaks and serves as an excellent stepping stone for those aspiring to climb the tallest mountain, Mount Everest.

Planning Your Cho Oyu Expedition

Obtaining Cho Oyu Permits

Before embarking on a Cho Oyu climb, securing the necessary permits is crucial. As Cho Oyu straddles the Nepal-China border, climbers can choose between two routes: the Tibetan side and the Nepalese side. Additionally, for the Tibetan side, you will need to obtain a permit from the China Tibet Mountaineering Association (CTMA). On the other hand, for the Nepalese side, you will require a permit from the Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA).

Assembling Your Cho Oyu Team

A successful Cho Oyu expedition relies on a strong and cohesive team. Surrounding yourself with experienced climbers, Sherpas, and a knowledgeable expedition leader is vital. Each team member plays a crucial role in supporting one another and ensuring a safe and efficient climb.

Training for the Climb

Preparing for a Cho Oyu climb demands rigorous physical training and mental conditioning. Regular cardiovascular workouts, strength training, and endurance exercises should be incorporated into your training regimen. Additionally, acclimatization hikes and high-altitude training are crucial for adapting to the thin air at extreme altitudes.

The Cho Oyu Expedition

Cho Oyu Expedition
Cho Oyu Expedition

Route Options: West Ridge and West Face

There are two primary routes to climb Cho Oyu: the West Ridge and the West Face. The West Ridge route is the more popular choice due to its technical challenges and stunning views. The West Face is a more direct route, but it involves steep snow slopes and ice climbing, making it a more demanding and less frequently chosen option.

Base Camp and Advanced Base Camp

Establishing a base camp and an advanced base camp (ABC) is an integral part of any Cho Oyu expedition. These camps serve as crucial resting points, allowing climbers to acclimatize to the increasing altitude. The base camp provides the necessary facilities for climbers, including food, shelter, and medical support, while ABC is strategically located at a higher elevation to facilitate acclimatization.

Climbing Challenges: Altitude and Technical Difficulties

Climbing Cho Oyu presents several challenges, primarily due to its high altitude and technical sections. Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) and altitude-related illnesses pose a threat to climbers, emphasizing the importance of a slow and steady ascent to allow the body to adapt.

Additionally, technical sections such as ice climbing and negotiating steep snow slopes require climbers to possess proper skills and experience.

The Journey to the cho oyu summit

Summit Day: The Ultimate Test

Summit day on Cho Oyu is an arduous and awe-inspiring experience. Firstly, climbers typically start in the early hours of the morning to make the most of the favorable weather conditions. Additionally, the ascent involves navigating crevasses, enduring the biting cold, and utilizing supplemental oxygen to combat the thin air. Moreover, the final push toward the summit demands immense physical and mental resilience.

Reaching the Summit: Triumph and Elation

Standing on the summit of Cho Oyu is a surreal and thrilling moment. As you gaze upon the breathtaking panorama of the Himalayas, including the nearby Mt Everest, a profound sense of accomplishment washes over you. Celebrate this remarkable achievement while being mindful of the descent, as reaching the summit is only half the journey.

What will you come across while climbing Cho Oyu?

While climbing Cho Oyu, mountaineers will come across various challenges, experiences, and natural features. Here are some key things you can expect to encounter during your ascent:

High Altitude

Cho Oyu stands at an elevation of 8,201 meters (26,906 feet) above sea level. As you climb higher, the thin air and reduced oxygen levels become increasingly challenging, requiring careful acclimatization and the use of supplemental oxygen.

Base Camp

The journey typically begins at the base camp, which serves as a starting point for the climb. The base camp provides essential facilities such as tents, food, and medical support. It acts as a temporary home for climbers during their expeditions.

Advanced Base Camp (ABC)

Located at a higher elevation than the base camp, the advanced base camp is strategically positioned to aid in acclimatization. It allows climbers to gradually adjust to the altitude before attempting the summit.

Route Selection

There are two main routes to climb Cho Oyu: the West Ridge and the West Face. The West Ridge route is more popular, offering technical challenges and incredible views. The West Face route is a more direct option, but it involves steep snow slopes and ice climbing.

Glaciers and Ice Seracs

Cho Oyu is characterized by glaciers and large ice seracs. These features present both awe-inspiring views and technical challenges for climbers. Navigating crevasses and ice formations requires skill and caution.

Snow Slopes

As you ascend, you will encounter vast snow slopes. These can vary in steepness and demand proper techniques for safe ascent and descent. Snow conditions and weather play crucial roles in determining the level of difficulty.

Weather Conditions

The weather on Cho Oyu can be uncertain and severe. Climbers may experience strong winds, extreme cold, snowstorms, and rapid weather changes. It is essential to closely monitor weather forecasts and make informed decisions based on conditions.

Altitude-related Challenges

Climbing at extreme altitudes poses several physical and mental challenges. Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) and other altitude-related illnesses can affect climbers. It is crucial to acclimatize properly, listen to your body, and have a well-planned ascent strategy.

Teamwork and Support

A successful Cho Oyu climb relies on teamwork and the support of fellow climbers and Sherpas. Building strong relationships with your team members, helping and encouraging each other, and working together are essential for a safe and successful expedition.

Panoramic Views

Throughout the climb, you will be rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding Himalayan peaks, including glimpses of Mount Everest, Lhotse, and other majestic mountains. These awe-inspiring vistas are among the highlights of the Cho Oyu climb.

Remember that climbing Cho Oyu is a challenging and potentially hazardous endeavor. It is crucial to be well-prepared, physically and mentally, and to have the necessary skills and experience to tackle the mountain’s demands. Safety should always be the top priority during the expedition.


Can I climb Cho Oyu without previous peak climbing experience?

Prior peak climbing experience is recommended for climbing Cho Oyu due to its technical nature and high altitude challenges.

How important is teamwork and cooperation with team members during a Cho Oyu expedition?

Teamwork is vital for a successful Cho Oyu climb. Cooperation among team members ensures safety and increases the chances of reaching the summit.

Is technical climbing involved in ascending Cho Oyu?

Yes, technical climbing skills are required for sections of Cho Oyu, including ice climbing and navigating crevasses.

How does Cho Oyu compare to other peaks in the world in terms of height?

Cho Oyu is the sixth-highest peak in the world, offering significant challenges despite not reaching the extreme heights of some other peaks.

Is supplemental oxygen necessary while climbing Cho Oyu?

Climbers commonly use supplemental oxygen during Cho Oyu climbs to mitigate high altitude effects and improve endurance. We advise consulting experienced climbers and medical professionals for personalized guidance on oxygen usage.


Climbing Cho Oyu is a life-changing experience that pushes climbers to their limits, both physically and mentally. From obtaining permits to assembling a competent team, every aspect of the journey contributes to its uniqueness. Moreover, from enduring the challenges of high altitude to relishing the triumphant summit moment, each stage presents its own set of experiences.

As you embark on your own Cho Oyu expedition, it is crucial to remember to respect the mountain, prioritize safety, and savor every step of the climb.

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