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Cho Oyu expedition is the best introduction to Himalayan mountaineering as it is considered the easiest among the 8000 m peaks. Cho-Oyu, located near Shishapangma, is considered the lightest eight-thousander. An expedition to Cho Oyu is a fantastic opportunity for mountaineers with experience in high altitudes who want to get started in the world of the Eight Thousand. 

Climbing tours are organized to this peak every year, which have become popular due to the mountain’s easy accessibility and relatively cheap logistics. The situation with the number of tourists in 2009 became so critical that the Chinese government was forced to close access to Cho Oyu for a whole season.

The Cho Oyu, at the height of 8188 m from sea level, is the sixth highest mountain in the world which has acquired the name given to it in Tibetan, which means “Goddess of Turquoise.”

The peak was successfully conquered in 1954 by a small group of climbers, Austrians Herbert Tichy and Joseph Jochler, and Nepalese Sherpa Pasang Dawa Lama. Their ascent route is now called the standard route. 

Your trip begins in Kathmandu where you will formalize all the paperwork and finish preparing all your equipment. From Kathmandu, you will travel by road to the Tibetan border, to Zhangmu. You will continue the route by road, beginning the acclimatization on the Tibetan plateau, to Tingri, the last town before the base camp. 

You will move with all the load in yaks to the advanced base camp, which will be your “base camp” for the next 4 weeks.

For the ascent, you will follow the usual route along the west face; it runs mainly through moderate slopes of snow with short technical sections of ice and rock. In these sections, for safety, you will install fixed ropes. Throughout the activity, you will have the fundamental support of several experienced high-altitude Sherpas. They will help you with the porterage of the cargo and the preparation of the high altitude camps.

Why Climb Cho Oyu ?

  • Easy accessibility and less risk of avalanche
  • Journey accompanied by breathtaking views, a variety of impressions and emotions typical of expeditionary life
  • Preliminary training to climb eight thousanders, especially Mount Everest
  • Immersion in Tibetan and Nepalese culture
  • Hypnotic views of Everest and Cho Oyu

Cho Oyu Climbing Route

Cho Oyu altitude profile

Western Face (standard route)

This is the route taken by the Austrian team and Pasang Dawa Lama back in 1954. It has become the standard and probably the easiest route so far.

South Face (Right)

This path is difficult compared to other paths to reach Cho Oyu as the route passes along the Southeast face of the mountain. 

Messner route ( Standard Route Variant )

The Messner route is now considered a variant of the standard route. The path starts in a straight line from the standard route, but it connects to the standard one above the second high camp.

South Rib

This path was taken to reach the summit in winter in 1985. On the southern wall of the mountain, a prominent ridge is very clearly visible, going straight to the top, which divides this wall into two parts- right and left. This is the passage laid along the very edge of the rib.

Southwest Rib – East Face

The passage lies in the long western ridge to the left of the Messner route. It is also called the Polish ridge.

North Face

Though the mountain looks scarier from the north face, but it is doable if you walk fast enough that takes you to the summit from Palung valley from the North-East.

Southwest Face (Right)

This is the technically difficult route to Cho Oyu along the Southwest face characterized by rocky ups alternated with snow-ice sections with a steepness of up to 60 degrees.

East Ridge with Access from South

It is the most challenging route along the Eastern ridge, with access from the south. 


This route is the same as the route of Southwest face, but with the addition that it never goes beyond the edge, climbing it to the very top.

Southwest Face (center)

The path lies a little away from the Southwest face that takes you to the four walls of the peak.

North Face and East Face

Similar to the north face, the path lies only to the left of Tibet. 

Southwest Face

The circuit runs along the left side of the South-Western Face with access to the “Polish ridge” at an altitude of about 7200 meters. The route does not present any particular technical difficulty.

Southeast Face

The route runs along the southeast face in alpine style. It was discovered in 2009 when China closed the mountain for climbing. 

How difficult is Cho Oyu climb ?

The Cho Oyu expedition is the least difficult eight thousanders; however, the risk associated with such high altitude climbing cannot be belittled. You must be a persistent and powerful high-altitude mountaineer with a very good physical condition who can manage average daily stages of 6-8 hours, a summit stage of 12 hours (ascent and descent) or more. The risk associated with such climbing is altitude sickness, so frequent acclimatization and physical training and carrying bottled oxygen for climbing greater heights will make your trip a success. 

Best season for Cho Oyu Expedition

The most visited season to Cho Oyu is the spring season from March to May and the autumn season from September to early December. In the pre-monsoon season from April to May, you are favored with long days and constant temperature increases. However, the timing of a possible ascent is limited by the arrival of the monsoon season from June to August, and in general, the weather is less stable, with sharp fluctuations from day to day. The weather is more stable in autumn, but it gets colder and darker every day. 




Trip Details

Departure/Return LocationKathmandu
Departure time12:00
wearMountain Gear

  Outline Itinerary

  • Day 1: Arrival in Kathmandu
  • Day 2: Kathmandu Sightseeing
  • Day 3: Preparation for the Expedition
  • Day 4: Drive to Tibet, cross the border
  • Day 5: Explore Lhasa
  • Day 6: Drive to Shigatse
  • Day 7: Drive to Tingri
  • Day 8: Exploration day in Tingri
  • Day 9: Drive to Chinese base camp
  • Day 10: Organization at the base camp
  • Days 11-14: Cho Oyu base camp trek
  • Days 15-39: Climbing the northwest face of Cho Oyu
  • Day 40: Trek back to the road
  • Days 41: Drive to Kathmandu
  • Day 42: Kathmandu
  • Day 43: Departure from Kathmandu


Itinerary Details

    • Arrive in Kathmandu and transfer to the city and accommodation in the hotel. The afternoon is at your disposal to gain the first impressions of Nepal. Overnight at the hotel.

    • The day is free to visit one of the city’s famous temples and places. You can visit the famous Pashupatinath, the holiest Hindu pilgrimage site, and other cultural heritage sites of Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhaktapur.

    • Today is all about the final preparations for the Cho Oyu Expedition. Take care of the visa formalities for your stay in Tibet. 


    • Drive to Tibet crossing the Khasa Bazar border. From Khasa you go to Lhasa, where you spend the night.

    • Lhasa is an ancient Buddhist city. As you acclimatize to the high altitude, visit important landmarks, including the Dalai Lama’s Potala Palace. Life at Lhasa truly offers glimpses of one of the oldest cultures.

    • Today you drive across the Tibetan Plateau. In Shigatse, you will visit the Tashilhunpo monastery, built-in 1447. This monastery is the home of the Panchen Lama, the second most influential religious figure in Tibet. Night stay in Shigatse.


    • You leave Shigatse in the direction of Tingri. Along the Tibetan roads, you can see the northern edge of the Himalayas with a spectacular panorama of peaks, including Everest. 


    • You need one more day to get used to the height of the Chinese base camp that you will step on tomorrow. You will be advised not to exhaust yourself physically, but a visit to the town and monastery above (4200m) is recommended. 


    • Your destination today is the Chinese base camp. Leaving Tingri behind and turning south, you reach the Chinese base camp after a bumpy road.

    • This day is dedicated to the preparation of the trek. Cargo will be readied for transport by yaks. 


    • You will trek for 2 days at 5300m before continuing to base camp. You are acclimatized to the thin atmosphere on the third day due to the high altitude. You will reach the base camp on the 13th and spend the afternoon organizing the climbing equipment. Day 14 will be acclimatization at the base camp. 


    • This is the Cho Oyu ascension period, and providing a day-to-day plan would not be convincing. On the first day, you will start learning climbing skills and how to use the oxygen cylinders and the radios. The Sherpas will bring the necessary equipment, food, and clothing to the base camp. From the base camp, you first ascend the Gyabrag Glacier in the direction of the mountain. You will use the “climb high and sleep low” technique throughout the climb. Finally, the team will return to base camp for an extended rest of at least 4 days before moving to Camp 3, preparing for the final climb to the top. The camps are located as follow:

      Camp 1 (6400m): 5 to 8 hours from the base camp. It is reached with a steep climb up the glacier at 6100m. From here, the route becomes steeper.

      Camp 2 (7000m): The route to Camp 2 is the most demanding ascent and requires significant effort to scale the steep ice at such a height. Physically it is a challenge. Throughout this section, fixed ropes are placed together with other equipment operating on the mountain simultaneously.

      Camp 3 (7400m): About 4 hours from Camp 2. It is located under some rocks that cut through the snowy slopes of the upper basin. Although the distance to this camp is short, the height makes the path harder.

      Summit: You reach the summit 5 to 8 hours after leaving camp 3. You follow the same path for the descent, spending nights at camps 3 and 2.

    • Afterward, you hit the road again with the yaks carrying your gear. Spend the last night in tents.


    • You will drive for two days to Kathmandu. You go via Zhangmu and cross the border to Nepal via Khasa. Another 6 hours later, you will be in Kathmandu.


    • A day to relax and organize yourselves to thank the Sherpas and the expedition team.


    • Transfer to Tribhuvan International airport. 


Inclusion & exclusion


        • The Cho Oyu expedition is known for insignificant technical difficulties when processing the path by Sherpas. In addition, Cho Oyu is the most convenient eight-thousander in terms of providing the expedition. Therefore it is the best option for the first experience of climbing above 8000 meters.


        • Cho Oyu expedition gives you not only the chance to see and conquer the Cho Oyu summit but from the way from Shigatse to Tingri; you will be followed by the spectacular panoramic view of Mount Everest, Lhotse, and many more.

        • Cho Oyu is not harder than the Denali expedition as trained and professional Sherpas will always escort you along the way who will carry the tents and equipment. You only carry your personal belongings while ascending the height. However, its a longer climb compared to Denali, but from Camp 1, fixed ropes are installed on the way to make your climbing easier. While on Denali, you have to pull a sled along with your personal belongings and equipment. 

        • After vanquishing Mount Cho Oyu, you can begin your trek to Mount Everest as the distance from Cho Oyu to Mount Everest is 28.5 km. You have already gained experience of ascending greater heights, your body has physically adapted to the surroundings, highly trained, and accustomed Sherpas already accompany you, so why not try to beat the summit of Mount Everest as well and boast on your success. Apart from Mount Everest, for a change and if the Chinese government allows it, you also expedite Shishapangma- another easy eight-thousander mountain situated in China.