NEWSLETTERS - Cho Oyo Autumn 2000

Newsletter 416 September 2000

After a few more days of clear skies and rest, the entire team has made it to camp one for a night's sleep, and today, September 16, 2000, we are preparing for a summit attempt within the next four days.

Our night spent at camp one at 6400 meters was rather pleasant, and the full moon made for a spectacular evening . Russell suggested that we wait for the first rays of sun in order to feel more comfortable heading to the ice cliff which was about an hour away. We had a short section of ice that was no more than 70 degrees at its steepest and was easily negotiated by us all. Russell changed one of the ropes that had a knot in the middle which made jugging a bit more difficult. He also set up a rappel rope in order to avoid a bottleneck at this most difficult part of the entire route. Watching other teams move at a snail's pace carrying all of their gear makes me thankful for having Sherpa support in setting everything up ahead of time. We just have to get to each camp.

Poor weather has descended upon us again, but Russell hopes for clearing in the morning so as to send the A Team to camp one. This team will be made up of Ellen, Marco , Berthrand, myself (Lou), Gustav, and Russell. The sherpas have already fixed camp two and will be heading up this afternoon to fix camp three and bring up the O2 for the members requiring it.

The second team will be made up of Brad and Marc a day after the first team and then followed by Chung and Chris. Russell will be staying at camp two after our ascent in order to meet Chung and Chris. Each team will have one or more Sherpas to assist in the climbing and to make sure all runs smoothly. They have become the behind-the-scene movers of most commercial expeditions carrying 30 kilos plus and going from ABC to camp three in one day. Russell's team; Lobsang, Phulba, Karsang, and Gelgen will be our lifeline and will be the key to our success. Despite their importance, one seldom hears of their invaluable assistance.

Today is a tense day, we all feel the stress of what is to come. These next few days will be the most physically demanding for all of us and the fear can almost be felt among the team members. We have committed to something that we can not even imagine and that is the biggest challenge. To overcome our fears of the "Death Zone" and to keep focused on our goal will be for many, something they may never have a chance to experience again.

We are spending today packing the few things we need for the summit such as our down suits and food and spent the morning going over the use of the radio and O2 for summit day. Our O2 units, for those choosing to use them, can be more of a hindrance than a benefit if they are not manipulated carefully. Russell has explained how to use them, but at 8000 meters, we may have a bit more difficulty in comprehending what he said four days ago.

Russell has set up a program based on speed for certain members and traditional acclimatization for others. Weight is also of the essence and we are now trying to figure out what is superfluous and what is needed. I have opted to leave my camera behind, I don't think that I will be able to use it and the summit images will stay in my mind, they don't really need to be plastered on my wall. For most of us here, Cho Oyu is not a trophy, but something that we will look back upon as a series of experiences in our lives, for us to cherish, and to savor.

The next update will come after summit day, so I hope to return with good news that we have all made it back to ABC safely and that the climb towards the summit of the turquoise goddess will be for all of us, more than just another climb.

Cheers to all, Lou

Unfortunately, we have had two members depart from the expedition. Larry and Frank have both decided that they are not happy with the style of expedition. Larry indicated that he was not used to being given various orders about his health and ways in which to be successful in the long run on this expedition. He departed with out consultation. Frank also was unhappy about the way the expedition is being operated, although he showed many signs that he was not really suited to this type of expedition. Since their departure there has been a marked improvement in the general ambiance of the team members at ABC. We are now a much more dedicated and solid team heading for the summit.