Cho Oyu expedition

Tuesday, September 5, 2006 - 21:00

Cho Oyu Base Camp (5,000m)

It is is really big. it is is Huge!...and I love it:)). I had the first glimpse of Cho Oyu yesterday morning (September 4th) while in Tingri, a tipical Tibetan village at 4300m alt.

The 245 km travel between Nyalam and Tingri got us literall high up into the Tibetan plateau, one of the most isolated regions in the world. To the south, the 2500 km long Himalaya has four of the world's 10 highest mountains, including Everest and Cho Oyu, straddling Tibet's border. The West has the Karakorum and the North, the Kunlun and the Altyn Tagh ranges.

With an average altitude of 4000m and big areas of the country well above 5000m, this huge plateau nearly the size of Western Europe, it is the "roof of the world", even if this has become a clichee. Nortwestern Tibet is the most remote and least explored wilderness left on earth, outside the polar regions. Much of it can be described as a high altitude desert.

I first had this "cat on the roof feeling" while crossing La Lung La pass at 5124m with Himalayas in the back and the endlesss Tibet ahead.

Prayer flags were strung up there to purify the air and pacify the gods. When they were fluttering, prayers were thought to be released to the heavens. The colours are highly symbolic-red, green, yellow, blue and white represent fire, wood, earth, water and iron.

...we got into this magic land hoping in a good karma but the destroyed tibetan monasteries on the way, following Chinese "liberation" in the fifties and the "cultural revolution" in the mid sixties showed us that karma is a slippery concept. According with the buddhist concepts, and tibet being the most buddhist among the buddhist nations (please excuse this blasphemy), life is a cycle of rebirths and all beings pass through the same cycle of rebirths. Though, karma is often related to a seed that reepens into a fruit: thus a human reborn as an insect is harvesting the fruits of a previous immoral existence. So if Tibetans become to be less numerous in their own country than the actual Han Chinese population is it because a whole nation simply had bad karma?!...

...The Tibetan children or women asking for money immediately they see you are miles away from Harrer's "Seven Years in Tibet"...

We've stayed in tingri for two days, the second finding sergiu and myself on a 4900m "hill" making our acclimatisation go further. After an afternoon storm we went again outside our lodge for a prolongued photo session, as the light was excellent for good photography. A few hundred meters from the road I met a small tibetan boy dressed very badly herding his sheep. I tried not to intimidate him and took his portrait. When I look through the viewfinder of my nikon I saw something I haven't noticed few moments ago: he was wearing a badge portraying the Dalai Lama. This small thing, supposing it was discovered by the chinese authorities, would have been enough to jail his parents. In a country where the dalai lama is considered a public enemy and banned all over, this little boy's small gesture simbolized the hope and the faith of a nation. Moments later, the same boy was hiding the badge in front of Sergiu's camera, maybe aware of his lack of precaution.

...this morning (September 5th), while having a green tea, just before leaving for the base camp, I had one sight i'll never forget: the clouds parted and as in a childhood dream I saw everest and it's mighty north ridge and north face...I never thought that my first glimpse of everest will be in so an ordinary context :)

Almost all the way to the base camp we had this magnificent site of Everest and Cho Oyu (just 30 km distance between those two giants), making me speechless...

Today, September 6th, we had our third acclimatization trek, walking up a 5400m "hill", all the time the Godess winking on us...

We could see the upper part of the mountain and clearly recognize our route between Camp 2 and the summit. It has been an excellent training, especially for our morale. By the time being we both feel fairly acclimatized for the current elevation.

Into the last 4 days I also could determine a pattern into the weather, even if the monsoon is not over yet : the sky is almost crystal clear by aproximatelly 2,30 pm. when a curtain of clouds starts covering the summit.
If this remark will also prove being true in the following weeks, we shall start our summit push from Camp 3 at around 3 in the morning with a turnaround time at 1,30 in the afternoon to allow us enough time to safely come back on good weather.

We will proceed for the Advanced Base Camp (ABC) at 5700 m the day after tomorrow, while tomorrow (September 7th) we will prepare the loads for the yaks. Each yak cannot carry more than 50 kg so we will have some headaches transfering the weight between the barrels. We will reach ABC on September 9th.

...while I'm writing this I see outside my tent a wonderful bright full moon sending a magic light upon the summit, 3200 vertical meters above close but yet still so far...(ALEX)

By this time we all were pretty fed up with the road to Tingri despite the fact we took a lot off pictures noticeing for the first time the hughness of the landscape, it is soo enormus...apparently all the peaks look close but they are miles away.
Just when we thought that in off is in off we have reached Tingri .4300 above sea level and a terrible hunger sensation just grabbed Zolt and me .
Ram the B.C. Mannager send us straight away for the lunch and we've eaten like a bunch of Robbin Hoods .
After the lunch Alex and me went foor a short nap so we can go out later and have some nice shotting. I took my camera and went around snappin' some shots with tibetans. The tibetans are letting you take shots with them but shortly after u took first two pics with them they start asking for money,and I got so fed up with it, that once i've left a kid watch some pics on the display of my photo camera and I have started asking him for some money... And he didn't liked it also. What I have found out today about the chinese policies regarding the expeditions really has put me off . They r not allowing the expeditions to live from the base camp straight up to ABC because chinese soldiers and gofficers ,or ...members of chinese army are takeing the money from the yak hearders for themselves and theyr interest is to keep all the expeditions as far of ABC as possible so they can take more money from the yak hearders . And this is what I call stealing from the poor to favour the once that already have. There's no Tibet anymore, there are not tibetans ,there is sadness ,poverty,and no man's land in places it used to be hollyness.(SERGIU)

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