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Cho Oyu: An Interview with Topo Mena

Cho Oyu, the 6th tallest mountain in the world at 26,906′ /8201m

Here we come Himalaya!

Things are heating up at Alpenglow Expeditions as we make our final preparations for our Cho Oyu Rapid Ascent Expedition, which begins next week. Just hours before guide Topo Mena boarded his flight for Tibet, we had a chance to catch up with him at our office in Squaw Valley, California. We got the full scoop on the upcoming expedition, check it out below.

First, a quick bio on Topo: …

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Sweet Summit Success on Cho Oyu

   

On Top of the 6th Tallest Mountain in the World (26,906’)

Starting their 16-hour summit push in the wee hours of the morning.

Congratulations to Adrain Ballinger and the Cho+Everest Team for their successful summit of Cho Oyu this weekend! After a heroic 16-hour summit push, a mere 9 days after leaving home, The Cho+Everest team stood atop the 6th tallest mountain in the world (26,906’).

Despite ominous weather forecasts (projected temps were -49°F) the team was lucky to sneak through a closing window of calm winds and mild temps. The team even went so far…

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The Puja Ceremony – Everest Commencement!

A successful Everest journey begins with Puja.

Before leaving Everest Base Camp and beginning their arduous journey to its summit, Climbers and Sherpa take part in the Puja ceremony. A literal “right of passage”, the Puja ceremony is performed to make contact with divine Sagamartha, Mount Everest, and pray for a safe expedition.

In preparation for the ceremony, a large cairn is constructed with long strands of prayer flags. The team makes an offering of special foods and drinks and brings their climbing gear to be blessed for the journey.

Tsampa flour, a staple of the Tibetan diet, is spread on the faces of…

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Cho Oyu & Everest Team Update

Monday, April 30:

In preparation for a Cho/Everest push, guides Adrian and Topo tested their team of climbers with an acclimatization climb up

Lhotse (27,940′). 

Conditions were good with “real low wind and not much snow, just a little cloudy.” The team had a successful summit push and returned to base camp to organize gear and prepare for puja the next day.

After some well-deserved sleep, they reported, “All sherpa down and resting after big effort! Sunny and beautiful this morning after a bit more snow last night”

 

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What is a Puja Ceremony?

Puja Ceremony on Ama Dablam

“A puja is a ceremony in which meditational prayers are offered to the Buddhas and holy beings to request their blessings or help. Traditionally in a monastery monks and nuns perform prayers for the long life, health and success of their teachers, friends, benefactors, all living beings, and for world peace. Pujas are performed to avert or clear three kinds of obstacles: worldly, inner and secret obstacles; conditions which prevent us from achieving our worldly and spiritual goals.” [1]

Shown here, the Alpenglow team celebrating yesterday on Ama Dablam and also last month on Cho…

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Successful Summit for Cho Oyu Rapid Ascent and Lightning Ascent Teams

They did it! On October 1, 2016 in sunny and warm conditions both our Rapid Ascent and lightning ascent expedition teams summited Cho Oyu (26,906′ / 8200m). (Lightning ascent is Adrian Ballinger’s vision of summiting an 8,000m peak in two weeks door to door from the United States)

The Rapid Ascent team of Brooks Entwistle, Panuru Sherpa and Palden Sherpa was led by Zeb Blais and reached the top before our lightning ascent team did. They left Camp 3 (24,250′ / 7400m) in the dark with Adrian reporting that they summited Cho “super fast” and in good style. Zeb skied the upper slopes in marginal snow…

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Quick Update for Cho Oyu Rapid and Lightning Ascents

Photo: Emily Harrington

 

The Rapid Ascent Cho Oyu expedition team, with lead guide Zeb Blais, is moving to C3 (24,250′ / 7400m) today, while the “lightning ascent” expedition team, Adrian Ballinger and Emily Harrington, is moving to C2 (23,290′ / 7100m) today. Given the time difference it is currently Friday the 30th in Tibet (15 hours ahead of PST). The teams will get whatever rest they can Friday afternoon/evening and then do a summit push together Friday night. Which means by this time “tomorrow” in California (PST time zone) both teams will be at the summit, with their skis and ready for the descent.

The plan was to sleep…

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Cho Oyu Rapid Ascent and “Lightning Ascent” Updates

Our Rapid Ascent Cho Oyu expedition team, led by Zeb Blais, is currently sleeping at C2 (23,290′ / 7100m) and our “lightning ascent” expedition team, Adrian Ballinger and Emily Harrington, is currently sleeping at C1 (20,600’ / 6280m). Adrian Ballinger, Alpenglow Expedition’s founder, reported this morning that the current focus is on overall weather but also on a weather window for September 30 – October 1. The weather has kept many teams at Camp 2 (C2), many of which were anticipating to summit on September 28 or 29. This is causing the teams to stack up up high as they are waiting for the best conditions for their summit…

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Cho Oyu Rapid Ascent Expedition Leaving ABC for C1

 

Photos: Zeb Blais

Our Rapid Ascent Cho Oyu expedition team is leaving advanced base camp (ABC) at 18,530’ / 5650m for Camp 1 (C1) at 20,600’ / 6280m. Lead guide, Zeb Blais, reported this morning that they’ve been discussing weather, snowpack and other climbing teams over the last couple days. There are a few other teams that are looking to push up in front of them, which should be good to have the route to themselves on their summit day and through technical sections that can be slow, such as the ice cliff above C1 around 22,500′ / 6850m. All of these elements add to the puzzle…

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Cho Oyu Rapid Ascent Update

Photo: Zeb Blais

Our Rapid Ascent Cho Oyu expedition team is back in advanced base camp (ABC) at 18,530’ / 5650m. Lead guide, Zeb Blais, reported this morning that they are feeling good after a few rotations but they are ready for some rest days before the final push. Zeb said they got in some more skiing yesterday before arriving in ABC. The skiing and snow conditions are variable with a little bit of everything. He said there has also been a variety of weather as well, including some wind, new snow, and more precipitation coming in the next couple days.

Adrian Ballinger…

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