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  Summitclimb Cho Oyu 2008: Summits and more on the way up !

Team one summits! Team two going for the summit in a few hours!

Hi, this is Dan, the leader of the SummitClimb Cho Oyu Autumn 2008 expedition. I’m calling in with a dispatch for 2 October, 2008.

I’m calling from camp 2 down at about 7000 metres/23,000 feet. Our first summit team made it to the top today at about 1:15 p.m. In the following order, Suzy Madge became Britain’s first 8000 metre skier, Squash Falconer became Britain’s highest snowboarder, Lakpa Gyalbu Sherpa Lama was there to assist, yours truly Dan was up there, Raimo Koponen climbed with no oxygen, Jangbu Sherpa was their helping all of the way, Keith Spencer made an amazing ascent to the summit from camp 1, and John Pando really stuck it out and got himself on top. Way to go John!

We have the next group on deck in camp 3. That includes Gavin, Michiel, Vikram, David, Samuli, Pertti, Mikko, and Marko. They are planning to go for it tonight at about 3:00 a.m. Chinese team.

Then we have the third group last, but not least. They’re on deck in camp 2 planning to move into camp 3 tomorrow. That’s Max, Erik, and Kurt.

Go everybody! We wish everyone all the best for a very safe ascent.

Today we were able to help assist in a couple rescues, just minor ones. One rescue was a person who was caught in a big crack in the rock-band and we were able to help them abseil down tied to one of our team members. Later on this evening coming into camp 2, a couple of our team members found another climber sitting out on the snow, apparently disoriented, and helped them back down to safety in camp 2. Go team!

We wish everybody safe climbing and we hope the weather holds. It’s pretty cold and windy here, but so far we seem to be lucky. Let’s watch out for frostbite. Okay, thank you. Bye, bye.

Earlier: Team one in camp 3. Going for the summit in a few hours!

Hi, this is Dan, the leader of the SummitClimb Cho Oyu Autumn 2008 expedition. I’m calling in with a dispatch for 1 October, 2008.

I’m calling from camp 3, which is at approximately 7442 metres/24,410 feet. At this altitude it’s kind of hard to breath in the thin air and some of us are on oxygen already. We plan to get up in just a couple of hours in the middle of the night and cook our breakfast, put on all of our kit, and head for the summit. Right now the weather is quite calm with no wind and today was a beautiful day. It was very sunny with a few clouds blowing around and we had stunning views of advanced basecamp, camp 1, and camp 2 on Cho Oyu far below us. Our team up here in camp 3 includes Mr. John Pando, Ms. Suzy Madge, Mr. Jangbu Sherpa, Ms. Squash Falconer, Mr. Lakpa Gyalbu Sherpa Lama, Mr. Raimo Koponen, and me.

It’s been a lot of work getting up to this camp. We had quite a bit of challenging weather throughout the last several weeks. We lost a lot of tents. Sadly, some of our member’s equipment was blown away. We were luckily able to retrieve some of that equipment and find replacement items for some of the bits that were lost. Our special thanks goes out to Jon Otto and also the fantastic folks at Ozark, who have supplied us with all brand new tents, as we lost quite a few of them. It was a tragedy, but Ozark Tents came through and gave us all brand new tents, so we are deeply indebted to them.

So that’s it for us in camp 3. Below us on the mountain in camp 2 we have 8 of our members, including Samuli Mansikka as the leader of the team down there, as well as 8 Tibetan sherpas. I’d say that team is probably well kitted out and they’ll be coming up here to camp 3 tomorrow. As long as the conditions allow, they will be going for the summit tomorrow night.

Right behind them in camp 1 we have a team of 4 people, which includes Max, Erik, Kurt, and Keith. Our awesome sherpas Jangbu, Lakpa, and Pasang will be going down to help that third team have a great trip to the summit, as long as the weather holds.

We’re keeping our fingers crossed that the clouds will stay back, the wind will stay down, and all of us will safely make it to the summit. We’ll call in as soon as possible with more news. Thanks to everyone back home for following along and we’ll be thinking of you as we make our summit attempts. Bye, bye for now.

Earlier: Team in camp 2:

Hi, this is Squash Falconer calling in for the SummitClimb Cho Oyu Autumn 2008 expedition on the 29th of September.

I’m reporting from 7100 metres / 23,300 feet, so you may have to bear with me if I get a bit out of breath. It’s been a few days since our last dispatch and we have plenty to report. It would seem the weather has not been on our side so far. We left ABC for camp 1 several times, but had to return back. It’s no easy distance and with the altitude it can take its toll both mentally and physically. Willem, Tom, and Heikki have decided to leave the expedition and return to Kathmandu. We’re all going to miss them.

Several of the members braved high winds at camp 1 yet again and took a one day weather window to make it to camp 2 two days ago on the 27th, which was no easy task. The 8 members up here are now on their 3rd day at camp 2. High altitude headaches are a problem and some members are considering returning to ABC for a rest before the final summit push.

All remaining members are heading to camp 1 today. The word on the street is that the wind is dropping and we may get our weather break and be able to make a summit push soon. Thanks for following along on our expedition. Bye.

24 September, 2008 :Half of the team back in camp 1

Hi, this is Suzy Madge calling in on the 24th of September for the SummitClimb Cho Oyu Autumn 2008 expedition.

Despite the wind’s best efforts to batter us into submission, every single team member is still safe and healthy, which is fantastic. Half of the group has been acclimatizing in camp 1, while the rest of us have been waiting at advanced basecamp for the new tents to arrive and the weather to improve.

To keep ourselves happy we have playing bat and ball, sit-down table tennis, and introducing the Tibetans to the delights of a solar powered ipod disco. Squash’s dancing is remarkable.

The rest of us are now heading up to camp 1 in the fresh snow, hoping to climb in sunny good weather before moving on to camp 2.

Thanks for following along on our expedition. Bye.

19 September, 2008 Wind storm pushes team to ABC. Rebuilding camp 1

Hello, this is Vik Sahney reporting in from advanced basecamp for the SummitClimb Cho Oyu Autumn 2008 expedition.

On the 19th of September, half of the team in camp 1 had a restful morning enjoying the great views. Our strong sherpas fixed the route through metre deep snow to camp 2 and pitch the first tent of the season.

Our lunch at about 1:40 p.m. was interrupted by 65 mph winds, which began threatening the tents in camp 1. The team sprung into action securing tents and dropping those that were too weak to make it. The winds continued to grow and the team doubled and tripled up into tents for safety, hunkering down for what was going to be a long, tough night.

That night the winds reached deafening levels over 100 mph, shredding tents, vanishing equipment, and making any communication in between the tents in camp 1 impossible. We counted the hours until daybreak, as we hoped the winds would subside before the tents fully gave way. Sleep was not an option.

At 8:00 a.m. on the 20th, as light broke over the camp and we prepared for departure, the damage was clear. Although camp 1 was a total loss, all team members were safe and made it back to ABC for a few days of rest and recovery. We have more tents on the way to camp 1, which will be reestablished. The second half of the team will head up the mountain shortly, where hopefully they will be the first group to actually sleep at camp 1. This is Vik Sahney reporting for SummitClimb

18 September, 2008: Team reports in after their first night in camp 1.

Hi, this is Kurt Blair reporting in for the SummitClimb Cho Oyu Autumn 2008 expedition. I’m calling in for Thursday, the 18th of September.

About half of the group has moved up from advanced basecamp to camp 1. We had a mostly snowy approach across the moraine and glacier with quite a bit of wind. Everybody is feeling fairly healthy, although it was a very difficult night up here with high winds. There was some concern that tents would blow down, but luckily they did not. We had an excellent meal of noodles for dinner and woke up to views in the morning that were outstanding.

On a very positive note, Michiel, who had descended to Chinese Basecamp for a few days, has returned to advanced basecamp and is feeling much better. It’s very good news to hear that he is doing well.

Thanks for following along on our expedition. Bye

17 September, 2008

Half of the team spending their first night in camp 1.

Hi everyone. This is Sam Mansikka the leader of the SummitClimb Cho Oyu Autumn 2008 expedition. I’m calling in for the 17th of September.

Today the remaining team members climbed up to camp 1 to speed up their acclimatization before moving on to the high camps. All of our members except Michiel, who is in Chinese Basecamp recovering from pulmonary oedema, and Max have been to camp 1 at about 6350 metres/20,800 feet.

Today the weather was so beautiful, especially in the morning. It was calm and clear with the full moon hanging about the surrounding peaks, but one by one, they got hit by the rising sun. It was just spectacular.

The walk itself up to camp 1 was uneventful. It was a somewhat long hike up the glacier until we reached a big scree slope hill. Our campsite at camp 1 leading towards camp 2 is beautiful and I think our staff did a great job setting it up for us.

Half of our team has climbed up to camp 1 today to sleep there. The rest of us are spending a welcome rest day in ABC.

Stay tuned for more news about our team up on Cho Oyu. This was Sam from SummitClimb news. Bye.

16 September, 2008

Team makes first trip up to camp 1.

Hi, this is Dan, the leader of the SummitClimb Cho Oyu Autumn 2008 expedition. I’m calling in with a dispatch for Tuesday September 16th, 2008.

The day started in advanced basecamp at 5660 metres/18,600 feet. We got up at 7:30 a.m. and 15 of our team members, along with 7 of our Tibetan and 3 of our Nepalese climbing sherpas had breakfast and packed up to go to camp 1 and drop off equipment. We were also lucky to make use of the services of 7 local Tibetan gentlemen who are yak drivers by profession and have established a camp in ABC. They were able to carry some large loads up to camp 1 for us for some extra money, which was really helpful.

Our sherpas headed up first and set up a very large camp 1 for us at 6350 metres or some say 6420 metres. We now have camp 1 established with Ozark top quality 4-season sleeping tents, along with our own private kitchen tent where all of our members can meet and have a delicious meal prepared by our skillful Tibetan cooks.

The rest of our team departed a little more slowly than our Tibetan staff, along with our 3 Nepalese climbing sherpas, Jangbu, Lhakpa, and Pasang. We spread ourselves out across the Gyabrag Glacier and headed up some broken moraines over a boulder field, reaching the bottom of the famous “Heavenly Hill”, which rises up about 500-700 metres. It’s loose scree missed with dirt and it’s one of those experiences of 2 steps forward and 1 step back as you climb it.

We finally all reached camp 1 up on top of a gorgeous ridge with fantastic views of Shishapangma, the Tibetan plateau, the neighboring peak of Gyachung Kang, and Cho Oyu itself. We can’t see Everest from here, as it’s blocked by Cho Oyu, but we will certainly send you news when we can see it and hopefully some photos as well.

We are really proud of our whole team. They did a great job today getting up to camp 1. We all headed back down after setting up camp and depositing some light equipment like ice-axes, crampons, and harnesses. Everyone made it and it seems like we have a really good team this year, so we’re super excited.

We have received news about one of our members, Mr. Michiel Zuidweg, who went down to Chinese Basecamp in the company of one of our Tibetan staff members, Mr. Katu. Mr. Katu has just returned as we speak to inform us that Michiel is doing okay down in Chinese Basecamp. We are really looking forward to Michiel returning to our team as soon as possible.

Thanks for listening to our dispatch and we’ll call you tomorrow. Thanks a lot. Bye, bye

15 September, 2008

Getting ready to explore the route to camp 1.
Hi everyone. This is Sam Mansikka the leader of the SummitClimb Cho Oyu Autumn 2008 expedition. I’m calling in for the 15th of September.

Today we’ve had a rest day and puja ceremony. We always have a puja ceremony before we head up higher on a mountain, as I think we can use all of the good luck that we can get. Of course it is also great fun too. This time we definitely had a multi-cultural puja with the sherpas singing and dancing to their traditional songs. Our members Erik and Kurt also added in some fun modern pop classics by Eric Clapton and Pink Floyd. I think that everyone really enjoyed themselves.

Unfortunately, one of our leaders-in-training, Michiel Zuidweg, had to retreat to Chinese Basecamp because he was developing the beginning signs of pulmonary oedema. We are very sorry for him and looking forward to him recovering quickly so he can continue climbing. Right now he is resting comfortably in Chinese Basecamp with one of our sherpas.

After the puja we rested to prepare for tomorrow. The dinner we had tonight was just phenomenal. Our cook Kipa is really doing a great job on this expedition and we are all enjoying the wonderful food he is preparing.

Tomorrow most of the team will head off to visit camp 1.  

So that is all for Monday’s news and we’ll get back to you soon with more about SummitClimb’s autumn 2008 Cho Oyu expedition.

This was Sam for SummitClimb. Bye.

14 September, 2008

The team is training in ABC, reviewing ice climbing techniques .
Greetings from the SummitClimb Cho Oyu Autumn 2008 expedition. This is Ron Cloud from Redding California calling in today on September 14th to report.

After a late night, a sunny and leisurely morning was welcome. 7 cm / 3 inches of fresh snow greeted us this when we woke up. This melted quickly as we settled into advanced basecamp. Our elevation here is 5660 metres/18,600 feet. We are camped between 3 Chinese teams, an Italian team, and a Slovenian team. The weather has settled into sunny in the morning with intermittent snow squalls. Temperatures range from -1 to 15° C / 30 to 60° F during the daytime and -1 to -5° C / 20 to 30° F at night.

We had lunch and then hiked over to the icefall where Samuli and Max set up a climbing course. After sorting equipment and putting on harnesses and crampons the entire team practiced going up fixed lines on 70 to 80 degree ice using our ice-axes and ascenders. Once on top we rappelled or abseiled down. After the 45 minute hike back to camp we were met with a cup of sweet tea. Dinner commenced soon after with musical entertainment on guitar provided by Erik and Kurt.

The team thanks all of our loved ones for their wishes and prayers. We are looking forward to a rest day tomorrow. Thanks for following along on our expedition. Bye. back to top

13 September, 2008

Team has made it to ABC.
Hi, this is Squash Falconer calling in for the SummitClimb Cho Oyu Autumn 2008 expedition on the 13th of September.

By midday we packed our intermediate camp up, loaded the yaks, and every member, although some not feeling quite 100 percent, set off for advanced basecamp. All members passed through the Chinese army checkpoint without any problems and continued to trek towards advanced basecamp. We were blissfully unaware that the yaks, loaded with everybody’s kit, had been stopped at the checkpoint and were being told they could not move on to ABC.

As the day drew on, it looked less and less likely that the yaks and kit were going to be allowed to carry on to ABC, so the Tibetan sherpas, who we are eternally grateful to, hiked all of the way back down to the halted yaks to get essential kit like our sleeping bags and mats.

Meanwhile, in ABC our kitchen staff produced a lovely meal with Erik coordinating everything, including live entertainment with his guitar. Around 10:00 p.m. we received really good news. Dan, Sam and Max had worked their magic and the yaks with all of our kit were on their way to us. By midnight every member was tucked up in their own tents, with all of their kit, and delighted. Dan, Sam and Max arrived at ABC around 1:30 a.m. Our heroes! Thank you for following along on our expedition. Bye.

10 September, 2008 :

Team resting in basecamp.

Hi, this is Michiel Zuidweg, leader-in-training of the SummitClimb Cho Oyu Autumn 2008 expedition. I’m calling in for the 10th of September.

We are at basecamp at 4900 metres/16,000 feet. The last few days we’ve been able to enjoy stunning views of Cho Oyu with clear blue skies during the day, alpine-glow sunsets, and moonlit starry skies at night. While under the basking glow of Cho Oyu during the days we’ve been relaxing, reading books, laughing and joking, playing chess, and enjoying wonderful meals made by our cook Kipa and the rest of the sherpa crew.

It’s been very relaxing and easygoing watching the yaks graze along the grasslands and enjoying the views of the surrounding peaks. Thank you for following along on our expedition. Bye.

9 September, 2008 : Team in basecamp

Hi, this is Suzy Madge calling in on 9 September for the SummitClimb Cho Oyu Autumn 2008 expedition.

We left Tingri and had a coughing, spluttery 1 hour drive to basecamp. We were all very excited to finally be on the mountain. When we got here, a delicious lunch was waiting for us and I think we all felt like it was almost as good as a farewell expedition lunch, as opposed to a first day on the mountain lunch.

A few of us went for a beautiful 3 hour hike up towards a stunning peak called Jobo Rabzang, which is next door to Cho Oyu and apparently has an altitude of 6666 metres/21,850 feet. One of the coolest mountains, it reminded me of my home mountain in Chamonix, Mont Blanc, with towering crevasses leaning over like old men, looking as if they were going to crash down on top of us.

After our three hour walk, a delicious dinner was waiting for us and we all went to bed with full stomachs, not expecting to sleep too much now that we’d reached a height of 4900 metres/16,000 feet. Thank you for following along on our expedition. Bye.

8 September, 2008: Team heading towards basecamp.

Hi, this is Gavin Turner, leader-in-training of the SummitClimb Cho Oyu Autumn 2008 expedition. I’m calling in for the 8th of September.

Today we had an acclimatization day in Tingri at about 4300 metres/14,100 feet. We enjoyed the wonderful sunny weather and blue skies that we’ve been having for the last 3-4 days. We went for a short hike up a small hill to 4700 metres/15,400 feet, enjoying the magnificent views of Cho Oyu and Everest, as well as many other Himalayan mountains. We also walked through the Tingri and made friends with the nice local villagers and exchanged presents with them.

Tomorrow on the 9th we head towards basecamp and we’re crossing our fingers that this wonderful weather is going to last. Thanks for following along on our expedition. Bye.

7 September, 2008 :

Cho Oyu team acclimating in Tingri.

Good morning, this is Gavin Turner, leader-in-training of the SummitClimb Cho Oyu Autumn 2008 expedition.

I’m calling from Tingri where we’re currently at about 4300 metres/14,100 feet. Yesterday we had a good drive from Nyalam on the 7th of September. The weather was pretty nice and we drove over a 5000 metre/16,400 foot pass and had great views of Shishapangma, one of the world’s fourteen 8000 metre/26,200 foot mountains, and also great views back along the border of Nepal and Tibet. The drive was pretty smooth, we arrived in Tingri at about 2:00 p.m. and lunch was immediately served, which was great.

Everybody rested through the afternoon, did some laundry, and had a shower. Then we walked up to a small hill above Tingri and had great views of Everest and Cho Oyu. It was exciting for everyone to see Cho Oyu for the first time.

We are now going to be resting in Tingri for the day. It’s a beautiful morning with blue skies and hardly a cloud in sight. After resting here today, early tomorrow morning we’ll make the 2-3 hour drive to Chinese Basecamp where we’ll settle in and begin the next stage of our expedition.

So everything is going really well here. Everyone is healthy, resting and looking forward to the next stage of the trip. Thanks for following along on our expedition. Bye.

6 September, 2008 :

Cho Oyu team acclimating in Nyalam

Hi, this is Dan, the leader of the SummitClimb Cho Oyu Autumn 2008 expedition.

Today’s dispatch is for 6 September. Our team rested in Nyalam today and we unpacked all of the trucks and sorted through all of our equipment, together with our sherpas. Some of our members went for a walk in the surrounding hills around Nyalam. It’s very beautiful.

In the afternoon some clouds came in and it sprinkled a bit of rain and a little bit of snow, but generally the weather has been really good. I would have to say it has been unusually good for this time of year.

All of our members seem to be healthy and we’re acclimatizing. Tomorrow on the 7th we plan to drive up to Tingri and have some more acclimatization up there.

So we’ll keep you posted and thank you very much for following our expedition news. Okay, take care. Bye, bye.

5 September, 2008

Cho Oyu team in Tibet now. Resting in Nyalam

Hi, this is Dan, the leader of the SummitClimb Cho Oyu Autumn 2008 expedition.

Today is the 5th of September and our group reached Nyalam. We’re in Tibet now and everyone is doing very well. We have 24 foreign team members, along with 4 Nepali and 10 Tibetan Sherpas. We’re having a lot of fun. Everyone seems to be adjusting to the altitude well. We plan to rest here tomorrow and then move up to Tingri on the 7th.

We’re wishing everyone well at home and thanks for following our expedition. All the best for now. Bye, bye. 

4 September, 2008 :

Team in Kodari. Crossing into Tibet soon. :

Hi, this is Dan, the leader of the SummitClimb Cho Oyu Autumn 2008 expedition.

I’m leaving a dispatch for 4 September. Our team is stuck in Kodari. We were unable to cross the border today because we found out that another special permit is required for us to go into Tibet. A motorcycle courier is travelling down to the border very quickly and should arrive at midnight with the special permit. Hopefully, we will be able to cross the border on the 5th of September.

All of our members and staff are doing well. Everyone is fine. They’re all waiting very patiently. The team seems to be a really good group. We’re excited about expedition and entering Tibet tomorrow. Thank you very much and we’ll keep you updated. Take care. Bye, bye.

3 September, 2008

Today we had our member briefing. Our two trekkers decided they would prefer to trek to Everest from the Nepal side. We received our visa to enter Tibet thanks to some very hard work done by many people. Our team now comprises 2 leaders, 3 leaders-in-training, and 19 members. We are a diverse group of men and women from around the world. Tomorrow (4 September) we plan to depart at 3:00 a.m. for the Tibet border and cross (hopefully) around 8:00 a.m. Wish us luck!!!!

2 September, 2008

Today all of our members arrived and we received the climbing permit. One member sadly could not join, as apparently no journalists were allowed this season.

Team Roster:

  • Mr. Dan Mazur - USA (leader)
  • Mr. Sam Mansikka - Finland (leader)
  • Mr. Max Kausch - Argentina (leader-in-training)
  • Mr. Erik Petersen - USA (leader-in-training)
  • Mr. Michiel Zuidweg - USA (leader-in-training)
  • Ms. Squash Falconer - UK
  • Ms. Suzy Madge - UK
  • Mr. Marko Aho - Finland
  • Mr. Kurt Blair - USA
  • Mr. Tom Clarke - Australia
  • Mr. Ron Cloud - USA
  • Mr. David Fairweather - UK
  • Mr. Heikki Kallio - Finland
  • Mr. Pertti Kalliola - Finland
  • Mr. Gary Kellund - USA
  • Mr. Raimo Koponen - Finland
  • Mr. Willem Leendertse - the Netherlands
  • Mr. John Pando - USA
  • Mr. Federico Rota - Italy
  • Mr. Vik Sahney - USA
  • Mr. Keith Spencer - USA
  • Mr. Gavin Turner - Australia
  • Mr. Mikko Valanne - Finland
  • Mr. Krzysztof Wasowski - Poland
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