Climb the 6th Tallest Peak on the Planet in Only 28 Days.
Alpenglow Expeditions Rapid Ascent™ climbs are an entirely new way to approach big-mountain expeditions. After 15 years of guiding expeditions all over the world, including more than a dozen 8,000-meter peak expeditions, we have refined and distilled the acclimatization and climbing process to maximize safety, health, success, and enjoyment.
Cho Oyu Rapid Ascent™ Itinerary
- Day 1
Climbers fly into Chengdu, China, arriving anytime this evening or early the next morning (day 1 of our itinerary). Team members must pick up their Tibet Travel Permits in Chengdu. Alpenglow arranges for these documents to be sent to the hotel of your choice if spending a night in Chengdu, or to the airport during your layover. A layover of 6 hours minimum is required for the delivery of these documents. [This is considered a travel day and is not part of the Alpenglow program.]
- Day 2
Fly to Lhasa
Fly by plane to Lhasa (12,000 feet/3,650 meters). Arrive by mid-afternoon at the latest. From the airport it is an hour drive into Lhasa, where we have a bit of time to walk around the old city, and enjoy a traditional Tibetan dinner. Climbers are responsible for all flights.
- Day 3
Visit the Potala Palace and Jokhang Monastary, drive to Shigatse (12,500 feet/3,800 meters).
The Potala Palace, former home of the Dalai Lama, and ancient Jokhang Monastary, are two of Tibet’s most important cultural sites, imperative to understanding this unique place. After a morning exploring with our local guide, we drive a few hours along the now paved road to Everest, stopping for the night in Shigatse, and our simple but clean hotel.
- Day 4
Drive Shigatse to Shelkar.
We’ll spend a night in Shelkar to aid in our acclimatization. This small town is only a few hours from base camp.
- Day 5
Drive to Base Camp
We’ll finish the drive to base camp in just three hours, arriving at 16,100’ and marking the start of our climb.
- Day 6
Rest day in BC
We’ll spend the day resting in BC, letting our bodies adjust to the higher altitudes. Base camp is simple, but is an important step in acclimatization before we continue higher. Todays rest day is a great opportunity to start organizing gear
- Day 7
Move to Advanced Base Camp
ABC is actually where we spend most of our time on Cho Oyu and our camp, perched in a glacial moraine at 18,530 feet/5,650 meters, is comfortable and sunny, and is the home of our full Alpenglow infrastructure – heated dining tents, fully stocked kitchen, heated communications and hangout tent, internet access, and much more.
- Day 8/9
Rest in ABC
Situated at 18,700’, we’ll spend two days resting in Advanced Base Camp. While small walks will allow your legs to stay limber, we spend these two days enjoying ourselves with the full infrastructure of ABC.
- Day 10
Acclimatize to Camp 1
Today we’ll make our first steps onto Cho Oyu, climbing to C1 and touching 21,000’ before returning to ABC. This will let our bodies prepare for the altitude, while recovering in style at ABC. We’ll climb this part of the route a few times, and it will become familiar over the new few weeks.
- Day 11
Rest in ABC
After yesterday’s push, we’ll spend the day resting and maximizing our acclimatization from the comforts of ABC.
- Day 12
Move to C1
Today we’ll retrace our steps up to C1 and spend the night at 21,000’, getting our bodies used to the altitude and setting ourselves up to climb the ice cliff the following day.
- Day 13
Climb Above Ice Cliff
Leaving C1, our goal will be to touch 23,000’ today. We’ll climb the steep ice cliff, the technical crux of our climb, and the continue on until we hit 7,000m. We’ll then return to C1 and spend a second night there.
- Day 14
Descend to ABC
Today you’ll descend to ABC for a few days rest. Our acclimatization rotation complete after touching 23,000’, we’ll be ready for a push to the summit.
- Day 15-18
Rest in ABC
With a rotation above 23,000’ under your belt, now is time to let your body recuperate. Alpenglow’s full infrastructure in ABC will be a welcomed luxury after nights spent on the mountain and 4 days of rest will do wonders for your energy when it comes time to push for the summit.
- Day 19
Climb to C1
Your time has finally come! Your summit push has begun, and for the third time you’ll be headed from ABC up to C1. By now, your body has acclimatized and rested, and you’ve covered this terrain twice before. You’ll be moving faster and the excitement of your summit push will certainly help.
- Day 20
Climb to C2
From C1 you will return to the ice cliff, climbing through the hardest part of the route, and on to C2. This time, you may don oxygen starting at C1 or the Ice Cliff, and will continue on oxygen to the summit. With each step you are closer to the goal, and by the time you crawl into your tent, you’ll have passed through the most technically challenging terrain on the mountain.
- Day 21
Today is the day you’ve been waiting for; Summit Day! This will be your longest day of the trip, but certainly the most rewarding. The climbing slows down significantly from 7,000m on, and will physically tax you, but the rewards of a 8,000m summit are indescribable. After climbing to the summit, you’ll descend to C1, and maybe on to ABC.
- Day 22
Descend to ABC
Most climbers descend to C1 on their summit push before resting and returning to ABC the next day. This is the last bit of your push, and your exhausted body will be rewarded with the luxuries of ABC. While you will be tired, the feelings of accomplishment and rewards of a summit will make you feel oddly energetic.
- Day 23-26
Extra Summit Days
Like all high altitude peaks, weather and other challenges can dramatically impact our timing and climbing schedule. We include an extra 4 days in the itinerary for unexpected changes or weather impacts. If these days are needed, the acclimatization will be adjusted accordingly. If not, you will be headed home early with an 8,000m peak to tell family and friends about!
- Day 27
Celebrate and Pack in ABC
After a summit push there’s one important thing for you to do…celebrate! You’ll spend the day in ABC resting, recovering and reminiscing on the incredible climb that was just completed. And we’ll pack a little too.
- Day 28
Descend to BC, Drive to Shigatse
We’ll pack our things and descend to the vehicles just down valley. With the massive form of Everest, Cho and the other Himalayan giants slowly fading in your rear view mirror, we’ll make the all day drive to Shigatse.
- Day 29
Fly to Chengdu
Your morning flight to Chengdu arrives midday, most team members will choose to catch their international flights home that evening. You can also stay another night in Chengdu and fly home the next morning.
Bring your favorite baseball hat for shelter from the sun. No white under the brim – the reflection off of it from the sun is blinding.
Recommended: Alpenglow Hat
A comfortable, warm well-fitting hat that covers your ears. Make sure that one of your hats fits under a helmet.
Recommended: Black Diamond Levels Beanie
Neck Gaiter (Buff)
A multi-purpose neck gator that can also be worn under your hat. Make sure that it covers as much skin as possible and yet is still comfy.
Recommended: Alpenglow Buff
We recommend a tight-fitting balaclava that is worn under your hat. Make sure that it covers as much skin as possible, but is comfortable enough to wear for hours.
Recommended: Black Diamond Coefficient LT Balaclava
Must have dark lenses. Minimal light should come in below, above, or around the sides of the lenses.“Wrap” style is best. Ventilation is important and a retainer strap is very useful (Chums or Croakies).
Recommended: Vaurnet Ice Rounds
These will be worn on stormy or windy days. Make sure you are getting a snug fit with lenses for bright sun. Ventilation and anti-fog features are desired.
Recommended: Vuarnet Everest Goggles
These gloves keep the inside of your mitts or other gloves from accumulating sweat on the inside and turning inside out when you take them off, as well as provide additional insulation.
Recommended: Black Diamond Lightweight Wooltech Gloves
All-around gloves for mountaineering, backcountry skiing, and hiking. These gloves (and similar options) are warm, wind-resistant, durable and have a sure grip. You will rarely take these gloves off. They should be snug-fitting, and have some sort of reinforced palm.
Recommended: Black Diamond Tour Gloves
These gloves should be full GORE-TEX®, and insulated. These will be the workhorse glove for any expedition.
Recommend: Black Diamond Mission MX Gloves
These gloves should be full GORE-TEX®, with a removable fleece liner (so you can take the liner out and dry it at night). These gloves are used at higher altitudes and are needed to keep your hands dry, and warm. Over the cuff style is desired.
Recommended: Black Diamond Guide Gloves
Big Mountain Mitts
These mittens should be warm and worn over either a liner glove or a windstopper glove. Down mittens are not required. You should choose a pair that allows you to still operate locking carabiners.
Recommended: Black Diamond Absolute Mitts
A super-thin wicking sock that repels moisture. Liner socks help to reduce the likelihood of blisters. The socks should be thin wool, nylon, or Capilene®. NO COTTON
Recommended: Ice Breaker Merino Liner
Your everyday sock, good for day hikes, trekking, and in-town. It’s good to bring several pairs of these socks. NO COTTON.
Recommended: Darn Tough Hiking Sock
A wool synthetic blend. Pure rag wool socks are not nearly as effective in wicking moisture or retaining their shape and reducing blisters. Bring a few pairs of these socks. NO COTTON.
Recommended: Darn Tough Mountaineering Sock
These light to mid-weight shoes are for everyday use. The ideal shoe is comfortable to wear for multiple days and scrambles decently on rock. A Gore-tex lined shoe stays drier when hiking in rain or snow.
Recommended: La Sportiva TX Guide
Mountaineering Boots (5,000 – 6,000m)
Should be warm single or double boots that have a stiff sole and accept a step-in crampon. The boots should be comfortable, have adequate wiggle room for your toes, and your heel should not lift more than 1/8th of an inch when walking. (If your feet run cold, we would recommend a double boot like the La Sportiva G2 Evo.) For our Introductory Climbing Schools, we have limited availability and sizes for free boot rentals. If you need rentals, please reach out to the office staff asap to ensure we have your size.
Recommended: La Sportiva G5 Evo
Mountaineering Boots (8,000m)
Fully insulated, double boots with an integrated gaiter. These boots are essential for 8000-meter peaks
Recommended: La Sportiva Olympus Mons
You’ll love having a warm, comfortable shoe to slip into when tent-bound. These are optional, but nice to have.
Recommended: Western Mountaineering Flash Down Booties
Ultra-light base layer that effectively wicks moisture away from your body and is breathable. Quick-dry is important as well. One light-colored shirt is recommended for extremely sunny days.
Recommended Men’s: Black Diamond Lightwire Short Sleeve
Recommended Women’s: Black Diamond Lightwire Short Sleeve
Mid-Weight Puffy Jacket
Hard Shell Jacket
Expedition-Weight Base Layer
Fitted, light-weight and quick drying. The mid-weight will be a base- layer that will get you through a wide range of temperatures. Bring multiple changes of layers.
Recommended Men’s: Black Diamond Mens Solution 150 Merino Bottoms
Recommended Women’s: Black Diamond Women’s Solution 150 Merino Bottoms
Full-length side zippers are recommended, for throwing on top of all of your layers.
Recommended: Black Diamond Stance Belay Pant
2 Duffle Bags – At least one bag should be extremely durable, waterproof, and big – between 90L and 120L. You should feel comfortable leaving it in a puddle for several hours. Remember dry clothes are hot commodities in the mountains! Large enough to fit everything you own, plus what you anticipate buying. Two duffel bags are necessary to fit all your equipment for travel (we don’t recommend checking your backpack, best is to put all gear and backpack into your duffle). Once in country, you can consolidate your gear into one duffel and your backpack. It’s common to leave the second duffel with city clothes and other non-necessary items behind in a locked and secure location that your guide will arrange for you.
Recommended: Black Diamond Stonehauler 90L
Mid-size pack for city days and trekking. Streamlined, neat and lightweight (10-20 liters).
Recommended: Black Diamond Bullet 16 Pack
Climbing Pack: 50-60L
Internal frame pack that is between 50 and 60 liters. Either purchase a matching pack cover, or use garbage bags as liners. Make sure the pack is fitted to YOUR body.
Recommended: Black Diamond Speed 50L Pack
Sleeping Bag (-30°)
Rated to -30º F to -40º F. Choose an 800+ Fill Premium Goose Down bag. Make certain that the sleeping bag is the right length. DON’T FORGET A COMPRESSION SACK FOR THE SLEEPING BAG. Many climbers also like a silk liner.
Granite Gear Compression Sack is desired.
Recommended: Eddie Bauer Kara Koram with Compression Sack
Inflatable Sleeping Pad
72-inch long inflatable pad required. Make sure you also purchase and bring a repair kit + bag for the sleeping pad.
Recommended: NeoAir Xtherm
Foam Sleeping Pad
Foldable foam sleeping pad for sleeping and using as a sit-pad.
Recommended: Thermarest Z-Lite Sleeping pad
Should carry 70-100 ounces. Must be durable and have a reliable closure system. Recommended: MSR Dromlite 2L with Hydration Tube
Two 1L Nalgene Bottles
Two 1 Liter Wide Mouth Nalgene bottles.
Recommended: Nalgene 1 L wide mouth
Compressible 1-1.5L Bottle
Wide mouth compressible 1-1.5 liter bottle
Recommended: Nalgene Flexible Cantene
L.E.D. headlamps are required. Make sure they have 3+ bulbs. Bring extra batteries. We highly recommend a tilting lamp.
Recommended: Black Diamond Storm 450
Make sure that they are durable, lightweight + easily adjustable.
Recommended: Black Diamond Pursuit FLZ Trekking Poles
Plastic Bowl, Mug, and Spoon
A lightweight and compact cookware setup. You’ll want a plastic bowl, mug and spoon.
Recommended Kit: MSR 2-Person Mess Kit
A fully insulated thermos is recommended for warm drinks that help with comfort, hydration, and safety on cold days in the mountains.
Recommended: Thermos STAINLESS KING™ DRINK BOTTLE 24OZ
2 BIC Lighters
An easily adjustable lightweight helmet that fits with hat and Balaclava. Make sure this is a climbing-specific helmet. *Climbing helmets are also available to rent (for our introductory climbing courses) at no charge from Alpenglow Expeditions on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Recommended: Black Diamond Vision Helmet – MIPS
Must have belay loop, gear loops and adjustable leg loops so that you can layer up underneath it. Easy to pack, lightweight + comfortable. *Harnesses are also available to rent (for our introductory climbing courses) at no charge from Alpenglow expeditions on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Recommended: Black Diamond Couloir
Steel crampons with anti-balling plates are required (so that snow does not build-up in the base of your foot). Make sure that crampons have a heel bail. Crampons are available to rent (for our introductory climbing courses) at no charge from Alpenglow Expeditions on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Recommended: Black Diamond Sabretooth Crampons
General Mountaineering Axe
One non-technical climbing axe. The tool should be approx. 55cm- 65cm long and comfortable to hold. *Ice axes are also available to rent (for our introductory climbing courses) at no charge from Alpenglow expeditions on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Recommended: Black Diamond Raven Pro Ice Axe
Locking Carabiner (2)
Small, lightweight locking carabiners are best.
Recommended: Black Diamond LiteForge Screwgate
Non-locking Carabiner (2)
Small, lightweight small carabiners are best, wire-gates are fine.
Recommended: Black diamond HotForge Carabiner
Light, easy to use + simple. Should have teeth/grooves for skinny ropes.
Recommended: Black Diamond ATC Alpine Belay Device
Should have a large opening for gloved hands, and an easy thumb trigger.
Recommended: Black Diamond Index Ascender
25’ of 6mm nylon accessory cord. This will be used to make prusiks and cordalettes.
Recommended: Sterling Ropes
A digital transceiver that is simple to use or that you are extremely comfortable using.
Recommended: Black Diamond Recon Avalanche X Beacon
- Passport (with visa, if necessary)
- 2 luggage locks (TSA compliant)
- Non-cotton underwear
- Wag bags, 1 per night camping as to leave no trace
- Stuffsacks: assorted sizes, for organizing your clothes and gear
- Sunscreen: SPF 30 (or higher)
- Lip balm with SPF 15 (or higher)
- Personal first-aid kit (Band-aids, Ibuprofen, Cough Drops, Moleskin, Pepto-bismol, Imodium, Personal Medications)
- 3-4lbs of Snack food (a variety of snack food, some whole food, some bars, some gels)
- Hand Warmers
- Face Mask
- Hand Sanitizer
Alpenglow is top-notch.
“I’ve been fortunate to have climbed with many of the premier American guide companies in the Alps, Andes, and Himalaya – Alpenglow is top-notch among them. From the quality of the food and logistics to the knowledge of our guides, Topo and Chad, I felt confident throughout the climb that all I had to focus on was myself. It became a running joke at camp that our most novice Sherpa had ONLY six summits of Mt Everest – it was no surprise that our Sherpa team did a bulk of the rope fixing and were first to the summit. Shout out to my personal Sherpa Pasang who broke trail for hours on summit day so we could be first to the top.”