Sergey and I might be the only ones excited about the snow the past 2 days in Advanced Base Camp on Cho Oyu! For us who are hoping to ski, the fresh snow combined with what looks like a good base from a wet monsoon is the perfect way to start the season. And our Meteotest forecasts look even better, with the wet flow winding down tomorrow, and what looks like a long period of stable high pressure weather beginning. This good weather should allow us and our Sherpa to begin working on the mountain, acclimatizing, carrying loads, setting camps, and fixing ropes. And hopefully during all that, getting a bunch of skiing in!
But before that, base camp life and our puja. We are actually in what we call Advanced Base Camp, on the edge of Cho Oyu’s main glacier at almost 19,000 feet (5,700 meters). This is our main home, and where we enjoy all the comforts – wifi internet, heated dining tents, fantastic and varied food from our cook team, and even a glass of wine last night with our pizzas. Since Sergey and I pre-acclimatized before coming to Tibet, it took us only 5 days to go from Kathmandu, on a whirlwind tour of Lhasa, across the Tibetan Plateau by jeep, to the end of the road in “Chinese Base Camp” and by foot up to ABC. We were really happy we traveled via Lhasa, and got to see some of Tibet’s most important Buddhist landmarks.
And now, settled into camp at ABC, we are ready to focus on climbing and skiing. Today’s puja blessing ceremony marked the end of our approach and the beginning of our climbing season. The puja ceremony is an important blessing and purification, for us and our Sherpa team, before we step into the home of the gods on the mountain itself. The puja is also always a fun party, with lots of shouting, singing, and even a little blessed whiskey. The constant snow flurries and cool temps did nothing to quiet us down!
So, tomorrow, we plan to head to Camp 1 at 21,000 feet (6,400 meters) to drop a load and check out potential ski conditions.
More to come!
-Adrian Ballinger, Alpenglow Expeditions