Friday, April 8, 2011

FTA Cho Oyu 2011 Spring - Permit Issued!!!

from stu in the usa office
April 8, 2011

Permit in hand for Cho Oyu!!
Exciting news!!! We have just received the climbing permit for our team to go to Tibet and this is a huge step which we always wait for with great anticipation! Climbing Cho Oyu is not like many peaks around the world where you show up with a rucksack, check in with a ranger and off you go. To go to Tibet and climb requires months of lead time to give the Chinese and Tibetan authorities proper documents for your full team, arrange visa applications and be ready to go with the local arrangements of hotels, 4x4 jeeps and private vans.

Then there is the gear for our team which includes solar panels, a battery and the accessories for using it to charge all manner of things from radios to ipods. Then mountain equipment for fixing the route including in our case 2000m of 8mm fixed line, dozens of snow stakes, pitons and ice screws  not to mention enough stoves, tents and gas cannisters to effectivelt serve our members.

( We are still waiting for the critical travel visas to be issued and we hope to have those in hand on saturday or monday!)

What is next?
Finally a few days before the trip is to get off it all comes together in hotel rooms and storage rooms in Kathmandu and all of this gear plus our members and staff will load up this gear onto a large truck and head up the border of Nepal and Tibet where the Friendship highway starts its improbable journey though the wedge created through the Himalaya over the millennium by the Bhote Kosi River.

Along the way they will pass the "Last Restort" and be tempted to go bungi jumping (not likley to have the time!) We usually stop there to have a look at one of the deeper jumps in the world and it is enough just to contemplate it for most people!

The border town of Kodari is a hustle and bustle kind of place with heavily laden trucks lined up in both directions and a small set of hotels looking out over the river. We often try to come in the night before we are to cross the border to ensure we are first at the crossing in the morning! It is a way to avoid staying in the Chinese border town of Zhangmu which is a serpentine village in which one imagines growing up not knowing what a straight line is!

After crossing the bridge and entering Tibet proper the name of the river becomes the Rongshar Tsangpo and the very preciptous ride begins. There is no doubt that this portion is one of the most gut wrenching and unnerving parts of the journey to base camp. At the start one looks down at the abyss to the left and feels the vehicle swaying like a drunken yak and it seems for all the world that the jeep would need but a small push to upset the precarious balance.

I have made the drive twice and recall each time starting out gripping the handle bars so tightly that blood ceased to flow to my fingers. At some point however your give in to the inability to control anything and actually begin to enjoy the close up views of the vertical drop and simply let go of earthly concerns. Just as you finally give in and begin to enjoy the ride you crest out of the gorge and pull into the dusty town of Nylam and get a welcome respite from the road with a night at the Snow Lion Inn!

We'll enjoy watching our team make their way to Nyalam and be sure to share more of the journey to base camp in upcoming posts!

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