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"I'm very happy with RMI, and the guiding quality is definitely at the top."
— Dawn K. | Read More Testimonials
The 26,906’ summit of Cho Oyu, meaning Turquoise Goddess in Tibetan, is the sixth highest point on earth. A Cho Oyu expedition is regarded as one of the most accessible climbs of the world’s fourteen 8,000 meter peaks. Expedition highlights include:
- Journey across the Himalayas; from the colorful streets of Kathmandu, Nepal, to the glaciers of Cho Oyu in Tibet and back over the course of one expedition.
- Join a small and personal climbing team built around a low climber to guide and climber to Sherpa ratio, providing the flexibility and strength for a safe and enjoyable expedition.
- Climb above 8,000 meters with the guidance and partnership of RMI’s experienced guides and Himalayan veterans.
- Benefit from RMI’s excellent organization, support, and carefully planned and outfitted expedition: all the small advantages that add up to a more memorable experience.
- Take part in a RMI adventure to the Himalayas and see why we continue to set the standard in guiding excellence.
Sitting on the northern Nepali border just 12 miles west of Mount Everest, Cho Oyu stands firmly in the heart of the Himalayas. Cho Oyu’s straightforward climbing and lofty elevations make it the ideal introduction to Himalayan and high altitude mountaineering and excellent preparation for an Everest Expedition down the road. Our Cho Oyu Expedition begins in Kathmandu before traversing the Himalayas to reach the mountain on the Tibetan Plateau.
RMI's guiding approach on Cho Oyu differs notably from many other guide services as we intentionally keep our team small. Instead of running a large expedition with many climbers, we focus our attention on leading a more personal climbing team, concentrating our resources on each individual to ensure the safest, most enjoyable, and most successful experience possible for each one of our climbers. Our expedition is fully staffed and no extras or add-ons are needed. The smaller team ratios and thoroughly organized expedition facilitates better team dynamics, closer communication, individualized attention, and helps avoid the fragmentation inherent to larger expeditions. We believe this creates the strongest, safest, and most enjoyable climbing team possible.
With over four decades of mountain guiding experience RMI has rightfully earned our standing as one of the most distinguished guide services in the world: we maintain strict standards of safety, climb with small ratios, offer an unparalleled level of service, provide you with the best and most experienced guides, and have an infrastructure that is geared entirely toward your individual safety and success in the Himalayas.
THE RMI DIFFERENCE
Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. was established in 1969 and is one of America's oldest and most-trusted guide services. We are the largest guide service on Mt. Rainier and Mt. McKinley and a leader in guiding climbs and treks around the globe. Our experienced guides are some of the best in the world, more than 40 of whom have reached the summit of Mt. Everest, some multiple times. Our years of leading mountain adventures give us the experience and knowledge necessary to create the best possible trips. We work hard to live up to our reputation as an industry leader.
Our Cho Oyu expeditions are led by RMI’s top U.S. guides, who have years of climbing experience in the Himalayas and mountains all over the world. As you reach higher elevations and test the limits of your experience, the value of an accomplished, highly trained RMI Guide held to our standards cannot be understated. In addition, we are fortunate to have a very experienced Sherpa team partner with us on the mountain. Our relationships there are the key to our trip's success. Experience and local knowledge are invaluable in the mountains and RMI's Sherpa Staff is some of the best around. The unparalleled support our team has throughout the climb is one of the major factors behind our successes.
At Base Camp we enjoy comfortable accommodations with personal sleeping tents, storage areas, shower facilities, private toilets, and heated dining facilities. Solar power at Base Camp charges personal electronic devices and allows us to maintain contact with the outside world. Weather forecasting services are used throughout our expedition to provide up to the minute weather information.
RMI provides excellent food at Base Camp and on the mountain, keeping our spirits elevated and health in order. Consequently our groups don't suffer the physical deterioration seen in many Himalayan teams. Our professional, experienced cooks maintain the highest standards of hygiene and our diverse menu is complemented by a constant supply of fresh vegetables as well as luxuries and "comfort foods" brought specially from the United States. Our exceptional focus on detail, our unparalleled level of climber attention, and our genuine passion of these adventures are what make our programs truly memorable.
Safety has always been RMI's top priority and we strive to create the safest mountain experience possible. Our experienced team of guides and Sherpa focus on leading a fun and successful climb without compromising safety. RMI believes in outfitting and guiding with a small team approach on our biggest mountains, this unusual degree of personal service from RMI's guides and Sherpa staff increases our margin of safety on the mountain and improves your chances of success.
Our expedition is stocked with comprehensive medical kits and Gamow bags for use throughout the expedition. Our guides and staff are highly trained in emergency mountain medicine and work to maintain our strict standards of safety. When problems arise on the mountain, away from medical facilities, the level of training and experience RMI's guides have makes them some of the most sought after guides in the profession.
Careful planning and vigilant care are taken as we venture into high altitudes. Our well-planned use of climbing oxygen dramatically improves a climber's chance of success on Cho Oyu. Our supply of oxygen is well stocked and designed to meet any climber's anticipated, and unanticipated, needs.
Participants on our Cho Oyu Expedition must have a solid understanding of mountaineering skills. We require that each team member have previous high altitude experience, such as McKinley or Aconcagua. Screening and final selection will be done on an individual basis after we have reviewed your climbing resume and our veteran Himalayan Guides have spoken with you directly.
As you prepare for your upcoming adventure please feel free to contact our office and speak directly to one of our experienced guides regarding equipment, conditioning, the route, or any other questions you may have about our programs. We are available Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. PT at (888) 89-CLIMB or email@example.com.
Day 1: DEPART U.S.A.
Most climbers fly to Kathmandu (KTM) via Thailand or Korea with a possible overnight in Bangkok or Seoul. During your flight you will cross the International Date Line and travel time is approximately three days.
Day 3: KATHMANDU • 4,383'
Arrive in Kathmandu. We are transferred to our hotel for some rest and recovery before our evening reception and welcome dinner. Overnight in Kathmandu. (D)
Day 4: KATHMANDU • 4,383'
Situated in a bowl-shaped valley in central Nepal, Kathmandu is the largest city in Nepal and the cosmopolitan heart of the Himalayan Region. Today the itinerary focuses on a thorough team meeting / orientation and equipment check, fitting for oxygen masks, and any other last-minute preparations.The rest of the day is spent enjoying the city and local cuisine. Overnight in Kathmandu. (B)
Day 5: ZHANGMU • 7,544'
Leaving Kathmandu, we travel the Friendship Highway towards Tibet. We reach the Chinese-Nepali border which we cross on foot via the Friendship Bridge. Once in the Chinese town of Zhangmu, we check in at our hotel for the day. (B, L, D)
Day 6: NYALAM • 12,460'
We drive across the spectacular Nyalam Thongla Pass and through the Nyalam Gorge, into the town of Nyalam. In Nyalam we see the first displays of typical Tibetan buildings and attire. (B, L, D)
Day 7: NYALAM • 12,460'
Today we spend our time acclimatizing in Nyalam after this big jump in elevation. A short hike in the nearby hills helps us in the process and provides the first view of the higher Himalayan mountains. (B, L, D)
Day 8: TINGRI • 14,400'
Continuing from Nyalam, we reach the the village of Tingri at 14,400'. At the foot of the Himalayas and for centuries a meeting place for trade between Nepal and Tibet, Tingri’s views of Everest, Cho Oyu, and Makalu are stunning. (B, L, D)
Day 9: TINGRI • 14,400'
Building upon our acclimatization, we spend the day hiking in the hills around Tingri, overlooking the Tingri Dzong, a fort abandoned in the 18th century just to the south of town. (B, L, D)
Day 10: BASE CAMP • 16,400'
We travel the final distance Tingri to Base Camp (16,400') on Cho Oyu. Tucked amongst rolling grasslands of the summer grazing pastures, Cho Oyu Base Camp is a dramatic setting of wandering yaks, dancing prayer flags, and stunning Himalayan peaks. Upon arriving, we unload our gear from the overland vehicles and prepare for the climb ahead. (B, L, D)
Day 11: INTERIM CAMP • 17,500'
Leaving Base Camp (BC), our group climbs through the rocky lower slopes to Interim Camp (IC), en route to Advanced Base Camp (ABC). With our equipment carried by yaks, we shoulder only light daypacks as we settle into our climbing routine, shaking the miles of travel from our legs as we pick our way amidst the rocks and across icy streams, climbing past the many inscribed Buddhist mani stones that lie along the path. (B, L, D)
Day 12: ADVANCED BASE CAMP • 18,500'
Continuing from Interim Camp, we leave the last tufts of vegetation and make the final approach to Advanced Base Camp and settle in our tents. Perched amongst the moraine and ice alongside the Gyabrag Glacier at the foot of Nangpa La Pass, a trade route still used to reach Nepal. This will be our home for the next several weeks.
Once at Cho Oyu Base Camp the itinerary can vary greatly. If weather and conditions allow for all team members to summit earlier, then the program schedule will be moved accordingly. Similarly, if the summit attempt is delayed we can arrange for extra days. (B, L, D)
Days 13 to 37: THE CLIMB
Once at ABC we will rest for a few days, allowing our bodies to adapt to life at 18,500’. Using nearby terrain, we will review our climbing techniques, becoming comfortable and proficient on steep terrain and fixed lines. Shortly after our arrival, we will take part in our Puja Ceremony, a deeply meaningful and very exciting Buddhist ceremony led by a local lama before the start of any climbing expedition.
With our bodies acclimating to Base Camp, our Puja ceremony completed, and our training accomplished, we begin our acclimatization rounds on the mountain. Over the next weeks we will slowly work our way up the mountain, acclimatizing to higher and higher elevations and becoming stronger at altitude and familiar and comfortable with the terrain. Above ABC (18,500') we establish three camps. Camp 1 (21,000') is at the top of a long scree slope. From here the route is entirely on snow. We follow a gentle rounded ridge until we hit a short but steep ice cliff. We use a fixed rope to negotiate the cliff (normally about 60') and then continue across a gentle glacier before we start another slightly steeper slope that we ascend via a fixed rope. Camp 2 (23,100') is on an easy snow slope above. The ascent to reach Camp 3 (24,500') is relatively short and the climbing on more gentle snow slopes. Summit day consists of climbing intermediate snow slopes until we reach a series of rock bands, which we cross by way of their snow ledges. We come out onto a snow slope leading us to the summit ridge and then to what is often mistaken as the summit. The real summit is still about 1,200' away on almost flat snow.
The number of days this takes our team will vary due to weather, acclimatization, team strength, the number of caches we make, and other such circumstances. Our guides will use their vast mountain experience, knowledge, and decision-making abilities to maximize each climber's chance of reaching the summit of Cho Oyu.
TBD: BASE CAMP • 16,400'
We make the descent from ABC back to BC, marveling at the riot of green that we find after so many days at barren high altitudes. (B, L, D)
TBD: BASE CAMP • 16,400'
Back at Base Camp we take advantage of the lower altitudes for some much-needed rest as we prepare all of our gear for our return to Kathmandu. (B, L, D)
Day 40: ZANGMU • 7,544'
Leaving Base Camp, we regain the Friendship Highway and drive across the spectacular Nyalam Thongla Pass and through the Nyalam Gorge, into the town of Zangmu (2,300 m). We spend our last night in Tibet in the village of Zangmu, high in the Himalayas near the border with Nepal. (B, L, D)
Day 41: KATHMANDU • 4,383'
Drive from Zangmu to Kathmandu. We spend the night at the Yak & Yeti Hotel. (B)
Day 42: CONTINGENCY DAY • 4,383'
This day is available in case of any delays.
Day 43: TRAVEL DAY
Depart Kathmandu. Most climbers fly from Kathmandu to Bangkok, and then onto the United States. An overnight in Bangkok is standard for most flights.
Day 44: TRAVEL DAY
Cho Oyu Equipment List
The following is a list of required equipment. We may encounter a variety of weather conditions throughout our climb, including rain, wind, snow, sleet and extreme heat. Skimping on equipment can jeopardize your safety and success, so we want you to think carefully about any changes or substitutions you are considering. If you have questions regarding the equipment needed for your upcoming climb, give us a call and speak directly to one of our experienced guides.
Most of the required equipment is available for rent or purchase from our affiliate Whittaker Mountaineering. RMI climbers receive a 10% discount on new clothing and equipment items ordered from Whittaker Mountaineering. This offer excludes sale items. For internet orders, please use the discount code RMI2015.
Pack & Bag Guides' Pick
2 DUFFEL BAG(S): A 120+ liter bag made of tough material with rugged zippers.
BACKPACK: A 65-70+ liter pack large enough to carry all of your personal gear, food and water is the recommended size for this climb. A separate summit pack is not needed.
DAY PACK: A 25+ liter day pack to use as carry-on, while traveling or sightseeing.
SLEEPING BAG: A bag rated -20° F will keep you warm. If you would prefer NOT to share group bags at the higher camps, you should bring a second bag rated -20° F or lower.
SLEEPING PAD - INFLATABLE: A full-length inflatable pad.
Technical Gear Guides' Pick
ICE AXE: The length of your axe depends on your height. Use the following general mountaineering formula: up to 5'8", use a 65 cm axe; 5'8" to 6'2", use a 70 cm axe; and taller, use a 75 cm axe. If you hold the axe so that it hangs comfortably at your side, the spike of the axe should still be a few inches above the ground.
CLIMBING HARNESS: We recommend a comfortable, adjustable alpine climbing harness. Removable, drop seat or adjustable leg loops are convenient for managing your clothing layers over the course of the climb and facilitate going to the bathroom.
1 TRIPLE-ACTION LOCKING CARABINER(S): Used for clipping into the climbing rope.
2 SCREW-GATE LOCKING CARABINER(S): Used for clipping into anchors, etc.
HELMET: A UIAA (Union Internationale des Associations d’Alpinisme) or CE (European Committee for Standardization) certified climbing helmet. Bicycle or ski helmets are designed for a different type of impact and will not substitute as a climbing helmet.
CRAMPONS: The 12-point adjustable crampons designed for general mountaineering are ideal. We highly recommend anti-bot plates to prevent snow from balling up underfoot.
AVALANCHE TRANSCEIVER: A digital transceiver is preferred; analog will work as well. If you rent a transceiver, one set of new batteries will be provided.
TREKKING POLES: Lightweight and collapsible poles are preferred. Larger baskets work well with deep snow. Ski poles will also work.
MECHANICAL ASCENDER: For traveling on fixed ropes. Most people prefer an ascender designed for their weak hand, leaving their strong hand free to hold their ice axe. For example, a right-handed person would use a left-handed ascender.
BELAY / RAPPEL DEVICE: A plate-style belay/rappel device, ensure that it can handle rope sizes 6 to 13 mm.
60 cm sewn sling ("single-length runner").
Head Guides' Pick
2 WARM HATS: Wool or synthetic hats; one light and one heavy.
BUFF / NECK GAITER / BALACLAVA: One item for face protection is required. Our primary recommendation is the Buff. A neck gaiter or balaclava is also acceptable.
2 PAIR GLACIER GLASSES: You will need protective sunglasses, either dark-lensed with side shields or full wrap-around frames. Almost all sunglasses block UV-A, UV-B and infrared rays adequately. Pay attention to the visible light transmission. The darkest lenses (glacier glasses) only allow approx. 6% visible light to get through, while lighter lenses (driving glasses) let in as much as 20+ %. A good rule of thumb is that if you can see the wearer’s pupils through the lenses, they are too light for sun protection at altitude.
GOGGLES: Amber or rose-tinted goggles for adverse weather. On windy days, climbers, especially contact lens wearers, may find photochromatic lenses the most versatile in a variety of light conditions.
CONTACT LENSES/ EYEGLASSES: Spare prescription glasses if you wear contact lenses/eyeglasses.
Each glove layer is worn separately as conditions change during the climb.
LIGHT WEIGHT GLOVE: One pair of fleece, soft-shell or wind-stopper gloves.
1 - 2 MEDIUM WEIGHT GLOVE: Wind/water resistant, insulated mountain gloves.
HEAVY WEIGHT INSULATED GLOVE OR MITTEN: Wind/water resistant, insulated gloves or mittens. These also serve as emergency back-ups if you drop or lose a glove.
WORK GLOVES: Medium weight insulated gloves for climbing and working around camp. These should be both durable and dexterous enough to allow you to perform activities like setting up or taking down tents while wearing them.
We recommend a minimum of five upper body layers, all of which can be used in conjunction with each other. Two of these should be insulating layers, one light and one medium, that fit well together. Today there are many different layering systems to choose from, including fleece, soft-shell, down and synthetic options.
2 LIGHT TO MEDIUM WEIGHT BASELAYER: Long-sleeve wool or synthetic top. Quarter zip styles will allow for better temperature regulation. We recommend light colors, which best reflect the intense sun on hot days.
RAIN JACKET (HARD SHELL): A jacket made of rain-proof material with an attached hood. We recommend a thinner lightweight jacket rather than a heavier insulated jacket.
INSULATED PARKA with HOOD: This expedition-style heavy parka should extend below the waist and must have an insulated hood. While the parka is worn primarily at rest breaks on summit day, it serves as an emergency garment if needed. We recommend down rather than synthetic fill as down weighs less. The parka does not have to be waterproof, though that is a nice feature.
1 - 2 HIKING SHIRT: Lightweight, synthetic shirt with either long or short sleeves. The long sleeve is preferred for sun/bug protection.
We recommend a system of four layers, all of which can be used in conjunction with each other. Products which combine several layers into one garment, such as traditional ski pants, don’t work well as they don’t offer the versatility of a layering system.
3 - 4 PAIR UNDERWEAR: Non-cotton briefs or boxers.
LIGHT TO MEDIUM WEIGHT BASELAYER: Synthetic or wool.
CLIMBING PANT: Soft-shell climbing pants offer a wide range of versatility. You can wear them in combination with the base layer on colder days, or alone on warmer days.
RAIN PANT (HARD SHELL): A waterproof pant with 3/4 side zippers (sometimes called 7/8 or full side zips) are required for facilitating quick clothing adjustments over boots and crampons.
DOWN PANT: Required if you are not bringing a Down Suit. This should be an expeditionary-style pant.
LIGHT WEIGHT TREKKING PANT: A lightweight, synthetic pair of pants is a good option for the approach trek when hiking at lower altitudes and in warm conditions. These pants have no insulation, are typically made of thin nylon, and commonly feature zippers to convert between pants and shorts.
Feet Guides' Pick
MOUNTAINEERING BOOTS: A new breed of composite boot like the Millet Everest or an expedition-style plastic double boot in combination with a full overboot is mandatory. Price is the best indicator. Though expensive, the function of footwear is of crucial importance. Select a brand's "top of the line" model and it should be sufficient. The boot needs to be roomy enough to allow for good circulation. Anticipate a sock combination when sizing them (single sock, liner and sock, or two heavy socks on each foot). Wear the boots as often as possible before the climb, to determine proper fit, comfort and performance. It is recommended that you keep your boots in your carry-on luggage for all of your commercial flights in case your luggage is mis-directed.
OVERBOOTS: These are not necessary with all-in-one boot / gaiter models. Expedition overboots add significant warmth, especially at high altitude and need to be compatible with the style of crampons used.
HIKING BOOTS: A pair of lightweight boots for approaches and hiking on rugged terrain.
LIGHTWEIGHT HIKING SHOES: Great for travel, day hikes, and camp.
GAITERS: We recommend a knee-length pair of gaiters, large enough to fit over your mountaineering boots. This will protect you from catching your crampon spikes on loose clothing.
4 - 8 PAIR SOCKS: Either wool or synthetic. Whatever sock combination you are accustomed to wearing during your training or previous adventures (whether single medium weight socks, a medium weight with a liner sock, two medium weight socks together, etc), should work just fine for this climb.
Miscellaneous Items Guides' Pick
SUNSCREEN: We recommend small tubes of SPF 15 or higher, which can be carried in pockets for easy access and to prevent freezing.
MEALS: See the Food tab for suggestions and quantities.
2 WATER BOTTLES: Hard-sided, screw-top, one-liter water bottles with wide mouths are required. Plastics made with high post-consumer recycled content and BPA-Free are recommended.
2 INSULATED WATER BOTTLE COVERS: These help prevent freezing. It should completely cover the bottle.
AQUAMIRA: Chlorine Dioxide water purification drops.
4 - 5 GARBAGE BAGS (LARGE): We recommend lining your backpack with garbage bags to keep items in your backpack completely dry.
2 SETS ALKALINE BATTERIES: For avalanche transceiver.
LUGGAGE LOCKS: For your duffel bags. Must be TSA approved.
THERMOS: High quality, lightweight, unbreakable 1/2 to 1 quart.
SHIRTS: For hotel dinners and while traveling.
SWEATER / SWEATSHIRT
PEE BOTTLE & PEE FUNNEL (FOR WOMEN): Pee bottle should be 1 to 1 1/2 quart size.
Personal First Aid Kit
ASPRIN / IBUPROFEN / TYLENOL
PEPTO-BISMOL (STOMACH RELIEF)
SMALL ROLL OF ADHESIVE TAPE
ANTIBIOTICS: Broad spectrum antibiotics for Traveler's Diarrhea.
ANTIBIOTICS: Antibiotics for upper respiratory infection.
TYLENOL #3: Tylenol 3 for pain
ACETAZOLAMIDE: For Altitude Illness
Utensils Guides' Pick
BOWL: Plastics made with high post-consumer recycled content are recommended.
INSULATED MUG: Plastics made with high post-consumer recycled content are recommended.
2 SPOON or SPORK: Plastics made with high post-consumer recycled content are recommended.
READING MATERIAL / JOURNAL
PERSONAL SOLAR CHARGER: A small solar panel is a great way to charge your iPod or camera.
PASSPORT: Valid for six months beyond your return date.
COPY OF PASSPORT: The first two pages of your passport.
COPY OF FLIGHT ITINERARY
2 EXTRA PASSPORT PHOTOS
Purchase travel insurance.
Purchase airplane tickets.
Reserve rental equipment.
Be in the Best Shape of Your Life!
RMI provides the following group equipment and technical hardware for your climb: tents, upper mountain community sleeping bags and pads, stoves and cooking equipment, climbing and fixed ropes, climbing anchors, shovels, route wands, radios for on-mountain communication, and comprehensive first aid and repair kits. Two bottles of climbing oxygen will be provided. Additional bottles are available upon request.
All meals and an assortment of snacks are provided during the expedition. The value of careful planning cannot be overstated for a high altitude expedition and we work diligently to keep our climbers fit and content.
Please list any special dietary needs on the Participant Information Form. The form must be returned to the RMI Office 120 days prior to the program departure date.
While the food in the mountains is excellent, it is nice to bring along a few of your favorite snacks and drink mixes to enjoy after a long day. We recommend that climbers bring 10 - 12 lbs. of their absolute favorite snacks and comfort foods to have throughout the expedition as a supplement to the foods that we provide.
You will want to have a few snack items with you everyday to fuel you up the trail. We continually snack to keep our energy levels up while we climb - lunch begins just after breakfast and ends just before dinner!
The importance of having snacks and lunch foods that are genuinely enjoyed cannot be overstated. Eating properly is the key to maintaining strength while in the mountains. In order to combat the loss of appetite at altitude we aim to have a variety of foods that stimulate the whole palate, from sweet to sour to salty.
Recommended snack items: dry salami, smoked salmon, Jerky (turkey, beef, fish), small cans of tuna fish, individually wrapped cheeses such as Laughing Cow or Baby Bell, crackers, bagels, candy bars, hard candies (Jolly Ranchers, Toffees, Life Savers), Gummy Bears, Sour candies (Sweet Tarts), cookies, dried fruit, nuts, energy bars, GORP mixes, and drink mixes (Gatorade/Kool-Aid).
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Breakfasts consist of most typical choices. Eggs, toast, hash browns, corn flakes, muesli, oatmeal, pancakes and the local specialties of chapatti and Tibetan bread are all common menu items. Breakfast is accompanied by juice, coffee, tea, cocoa and other hot drinks.
Lunch and dinner options include a variety of choices. Soups (commonly tomato, vegetable, noodle, or hearty "sherpa stew") are excellent starters. Main courses like chicken and yak dishes, pastas, pizzas, and even fries are served alongside vegetable fried rice or noodles. Be sure to save room for a dessert such as apple pie, chocolate cake, or "snickers pie"!
On the mountain, similar meals are served. Lunches and dinners include several courses, beginning with soup and ending with dessert.
This expedition is open to individuals in excellent physical condition who have a solid understanding of mountaineering skills. Additionally, we require that each team member have previous high altitude experience.
Please submit the RMI Registration Form prior to securing your reservation. Screening and final selection will be done on an individual basis after we have reviewed your RMI Registration Form and our veteran Himalayan Guides have spoken with you directly.
This trip is open to individuals who possess:
- Excellent physical fitness
- Previous experience at altitude (McKinley, Aconcagua, Cho Oyu or other 7,000 or 8,000 meter peaks).
Formal mountaineering skills training with competency and proficiency with the following skills:
- Crampon use
- Team rope travel skills
- Knots & slings - prussik, butterfly, Münter, etc.
- Snow and ice anchors
- Crevasse rescue (from both the victim and rescuer perspectives)
- Fixed line travel with mechanical ascenders
- Ice axe self and team arrest, with and without a backpack
- Snow camp construction
Physical Fitness Training
Mountaineering requires a high degree of physical stamina and mental toughness. Even for the healthiest and fittest individuals, climbing mountains qualifies as an extremely challenging endeavor.
- Start immediately. Start a rigorous fitness and training program now with the goal of arriving in top physical condition and confident in your skills.
- Be intentional. Focus on gaining the necessary strength, stamina and skills to meet the physical and technical demands of the climb.
- Be sport-specific. The best fitness and training program mimics the physical and technical demands of your climbing objective. The closer you get to your program date, the more your training should resemble the climbing.
For Cho Oyu, you are preparing for:
- Steep climbing with a 40-50 lb load
- Strenuous physical activity for multiple hours a day for multiple consecutive days
- A 10-12+ hour summit day
- Mountaineering techniques which require core strength and flexibility
Nothing ensures a personally successful adventure like your level of fitness and training. Bottom line: Plan on being in the best shape of your life and ready for a very challenging adventure!
Please refer to our Resources for Mountaineering Fitness and Training for detailed fitness and training information.
The key to climbing high is proper acclimatization. Our program follows a calculated ascent profile which allows time for your body to adjust to the altitude.
Excellent physical conditioning significantly increases your ability to acclimatize as you ascend. Climbers in excellent physical condition simply have more energy to commit to the acclimatization process throughout the days and nights of the ascent, allowing their bodies to adjust to the altitude more easily.
Finally, physical performance and acclimatization are also related to how well you have taken care of yourself throughout the hours, days and weeks prior to summit day. Arriving healthy and well-rested, maintaining proper hydration and caloric intake, and protecting against unnecessary heat loss (staying warm) are all key factors in an individual’s success on an expedition such as this.
RMI has partnered with Erin Rountree to provide comprehensive travel support. We have been working with Erin for many years. As an independent agent of the Travel Society, she has booked countless miles for adventure travelers across the globe and is extremely knowledgeable about the travel needs of our programs. In addition to travel arrangements, Erin can also provide information and coverage for evacuation policies and insurance options. Please call (208) 788-2870 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cancellation Insurance, Medical Evacuation & Security Evacuation
Due to the remote nature of this program, we require everyone to purchase a medical evacuation policy with minimum coverage of $500,000. Additionally, we encourage participants to consider travel insurance and a security evacuation policy.
Medical Evacuation: An illness or injury in a remote area could require a medical evacuation costing well over $100,000. For this reason, we require everyone to purchase a medical evacuation policy with minimum coverage of $500,000. Travel insurance providers (such as AIG Travel Guard and Travelex Insurance) typically offer reimbursement for medical evacuations. Additionally, crisis response companies (such as Global Rescue) can orchestrate an actual field rescue as necessary in medical, security or other evacuation situations, even from extremely remote areas. Check with the insurance providers listed below for specific coverage details and options, including details of what constitutes a medical vs. a non-medical emergency.
We strongly encourage everyone to purchase travel insurance which can cover trip cancellation, interruption, delay, baggage loss or delay, medical expenses, medical evacuation, repatriation and more. Travel insurance offers the best possible protection in the event of a sudden, unexpected illness or injury prior to or when traveling. Note that many of the insurance options can be purchased under one policy but some coverage may only be available if purchased within 14 days of making your trip deposit or if purchased as an upgrade to an existing policy rather than as a stand-alone option.
Cancellation Insurance: Cancellation insurance offers protection of deposit and registration funds should you need to cancel from a program. This might be due to an injury during training, a personal illness, or it might be due to extenuating circumstances, such as family emergencies. Policies are determined based upon your home state, check with the insurance providers listed below for specific coverage details and options, including adventure/sports coverage*.
*Adventure/Sports Coverage: Most standard policies do not cover climbing or mountaineering. You can purchase Adventure/Sports Coverage as an upgrade to a standard policy. Please be sure to check with your provider and their description of coverage to make sure the policy you are purchasing provides you with adequate protection.
Security Evacuation: This policy offers crisis evacuation services in non-medical situations. Examples include evacuations from areas affected by natural disasters, war or conflict zones, terrorism, and other areas in which participant security is threatened.
For more information please visit one of the websites below, or contact your local travel agent.
|AIG Travel Guard||Erin Rountree|
|Travelex Insurance||Global Rescue|
Travel Advisories / Warnings
Please confirm any current travel advisories/warnings as well as passport and visa requirements with the U.S. Department of State.
During your flight to Kathmandu (KTM) you will cross the International Date Line. Travel time is approximately three days. If you want to see the mountains as you fly into Kathmandu, make sure you sit on the right-hand side of the plane.
A valid passport is required for entering Nepal and for entering Tibet. Your passport must be valid for 6 months beyond the expected date of return. U.S. passport holders can stay up to 90 days without special visas.
We suggest making a copy of the first two pages of your passport and keeping them in a separate bag as a backup. A copy should also be left with your emergency contact.
Nepal: All foreigners (except Indian Nationals) require visas, which can be obtained in advance or upon arrival with one passport photo and payment in cash (U.S. Dollars).
Tibet: All arrangements for our Tibet visas will be made in Kathmandu. The cost of the Tibet visa is included in the price of your program.
Upon arrival at the Kathmandu Tribhuvan Airport (KTM), follow signs to the Arrivals Building. Proceed to the visa counter for Visitors without a Visa. The debarkation and visa application forms you need are available both on your incoming flight as well as in the arrivals building. You will need one passport photo for your visa application.
Once you receive your bags from Baggage Claim, you will proceed to Customs. Be sure to keep all your bags together.
Outside the arrivals hall there will be a large group of taxi drivers and agents from many hotels and travel companies. Look for a sign with the name Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. A private vehicle will take us to our hotel.
The provided transportation as stated in the itinerary is via authorized taxi or private vehicle.
Immunizations & Travel Medicine
For the most updated information on inoculation requirements and recommendations, please refer to the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention.
Travelers may suffer from upset stomachs when in foreign countries. There are some basic rules, however, that can help keep you healthy.
Hygiene - It is important that you wash your hands thoroughly before meals and after using the restroom. If water is not available for washing, we recommend using a hand sanitizer.
Water - The number one rule is: don't drink the water, and that includes shower water and ice! Brush your teeth with purified water rather than tap water. You should check bottled water for a good seal and use a napkin to wipe excess moisture from drinking glasses. Take care with fruit juice, particularly if it has been diluted with water. Carefully clean the tops of bottled beverages before opening.
Food - If it is cooked, boiled or can be peeled, you can usually eat it. Salads and fruits should be washed with purified water or peeled where possible. Be wary of ice cream and shellfish. Always avoid any undercooked meat.
Excellent care for minor illnesses and injuries is readily available. In the event of more serious illnesses or injuries, we recommend transport to any of the Level 1 care centers in Kathmandu.
Nepal Country Facts
Nepal is one of the world's richest countries in terms of bio-diversity due to its unique geographical position and altitudinal variation. The country is roughly 497 miles long and 124 miles wide, with an area of 56,827 square miles. The collision between the Indian subcontinent and the Eurasian continent produced the Himalaya and the Tibetan Plateau. Nepal lies completely within this collision zone, occupying the central sector of the Himalayan arc, nearly one third of the 1,500 mile-long Himalayan Mountains.
The first civilizations in Nepal, which flourished around the 6th century B.C., were confined to the fertile Kathmandu Valley where the present-day capital is located. It was in this region that Prince Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism, was born c. 563 B.C.
Nepali rulers' early patronage of Buddhism largely gave way to Hinduism, reflecting the increased influence of India, around the 12th century. Nepal is now primarily a Hindu country, with more than 80% of the population adhering to that faith.
Until the Kingdom of Nepal became the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal in May 2008, it had been ruled in relative isolation by monarchs or a ruling family for most of its modern history. Nepal is now home to nearly 29,000,000 people. The population is primarily rural. Kathmandu, the largest city, has less than 1 million inhabitants.
Tibet is bound by the high Himalayan Mountains at its south and is predominantly high plateau (between 13,000 and 16,400 feet) resulting in its nickname “the roof of the world.” Because of its harsh mountainous and geographical features, Tibet is the least populated province in China, currently with approximately three million people.
Tibet is an internationally recognized autonomous region within the People’s Republic of China, though many Tibetans dispute the legitimacy of China’s rule. Officially, China refers to the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). However, the TAR only comprises a small part of the area included in traditional Tibet.
Tibet is the source of five of Asia’s largest rivers, providing water for over one billion people. They are the Mekong, the Salween, the Yangtze, the Tsangpo and the Yellow River. Tibet is known as the world’s “Third Pole” as, after the North and South Poles, it holds the largest quantity of glacially stored water.
Nepal: Nepal’s lowlands have two seasons: the dry season and the monsoon. The higher mountains have a cold winter as well. The dry season runs from October to May and the wet (monsoon) season from June to September. Spring (March to May) and fall (September to November) ring nearly perfect weather and are definitely the best times for trekking and climbing.
Tibet: In general, Tibet experiences lower temperatures due to its higher altitudes. The annual monsoon runs from July through September, with July and August bring half of Tibet’s annual rainfall. Our climb takes advantage of what are generally considered the best weather, road and mountain conditions of the year. Temperatures on the Tibetan Plateau generally drop below freezing, even during the days; rainfall, however, is negligible during these months.
Although it is not expected that we dress formally, we should dress modestly. Casual and comfortable clothing is suggested along with comfortable shoes. Except at swimming areas, it is generally considered offensive for a man to take off his shirt in public and, equally, women should be conservatively covered.
When eating, you should only use your right hand. This practice extends to passing food containers and plates with your right hand only.
A person’s head is considered the most revered/spiritual part of the body and therefore it is important that you do not make any kind of physical contact with it. This means that it is unacceptable for you to pat a child on the head.
Don’t take photos of people without permission. Most monasteries are off limits for interior photographs, or perhaps a small fee is required.
"Namaste" is perhaps the most important phrase you should learn when visiting Nepal. It is a greeting that means "salutations to you" or "I bless the divine in you." It is said while at the same time pressing your two hands together palm to palm in front of your chest.
Nepal has a huge population of beggars. Some are professionals. Others are genuine. The number of street children in Kathmandu can be heartbreaking. Giving money or sealed food to them, however, is also not recommended. To keep from being hassled, a polite but firm "No” is generally sufficient.
Electricity in Nepal and Tibet normally comes as 220 Volts/50 cycles (Hz). It is advisable to carry voltage converters and plug adaptors with you while traveling. Voltage converters and plug adaptors are easily accessible at shopping malls in the cities of Nepal and the U.S.
Nepal: The official currency of Nepal is the Nepalese Rupee (NPR). In Nepal you are almost always required to pay for goods or services with the Nepalese Rupee. It is recommended that you change only as much money as you think you may spend as local currencies cannot be removed from the country or reconverted easily. Check a financial newspaper or www.xe.com for the current exchange rate prior to departure.
We suggest bringing $700 - $800 total for personal spending money and the Mountain Staff Tip Pool. You may choose to bring more depending on your shopping plans. American Express, MasterCard and Visa are accepted in tourist shops, hotels, restaurants and agencies. You will find a large number of ATMs in Kathmandu and using ATMs is an easy method for obtaining cash.
Everyone has a preferred way to carry money. Some use money belts, others have hidden pockets. Whatever you do, be aware of pickpockets and thieves in any area which caters to tourists.
Tibet: The official currency of Tibet is the China Yuan Renminbi (CNY). Your guides can help you exchange your U.S. Dollars for CNY as needed.
Local waiters, drivers, and other service personnel expect to be tipped. Ten to fifteen percent is standard. Restaurants and hotels add a 10% service fee to bills in which case no further tip is required. It is customary to tip guides and porters on treks and climbs. Elsewhere it is not customary to tip, but gratuities are always appreciated.
Our guides work hard to ensure your well being and success on the trek. If you have a positive experience, gratuities are an excellent way to show your appreciation. Amounts are at your discretion and should be based on your level of enjoyment. Tips for excellent service normally average 10 – 15% of the cost of the program.
A deposit of $2,500 per person secures your reservation. Final payment is due 120 days prior to the start of your program. Final payments may be made via check or wire transfer only. Trips departing within 120 days must be paid in full at the time of reservation.
We will send a payment reminder approximately three weeks before your payment is due. If your final payment is not received within 120 days of the program your reservation will be cancelled and all fees forfeited.
Unfortunately, due to the time-sensitive nature of our business, and the difficulty in re-booking a trip close to departure, there will be no refunds for cancellations.
Cancellation Insurance: We strongly suggest that everyone purchase travel insurance. Please see our Travel Page for details.
Included are the following:
- RMI Leadership
- Transportation to and from the airport in Kathmandu
- Visas, permits, and administration required for entrance into Tibet
- Round-trip flight to Lhasa
- All group camping supplies such as mountain tents, stoves, fuel, cooking tent, dining tent, shower tent and storage tent.
- All meals as stated in the itinerary
- Hotel accommodations as stated in the itinerary, based on double occupancy*
- Park fees and climbing permit fees
- Liaison and Sirdar officers
- Sherpa support
- Camp staff and cooking staff
- Radio communications, including hand held radio for each team member
- Power supply at Base Camp
- Porter support
- Yak support
- Portable hyperbaric chambers, emergency medical oxygen
- Climbing oxygen and Top Out Mask
- A single tent at Base Camp with a foam trekking mattress
- High-altitude camp equipment and supplies, and Sherpa support on summit day
- Climbing Sherpa will establish camps, carry group equipment (including sleeping bags and pads), establish the route, etc.
- Weather forecasting
Not included are the following:
- International round-trip air fare and travel expenses to/from Kathmandu
- Accommodations and meals in Kathmandu not included in itinerary
- Medical Evacuation insurance of $500,000 (required)
- Travel insurance and security evacuation insurance
- Personal clothing and equipment
- Excess baggage charges
- Airport taxes and Nepal entry visas and re-entry fees
- Sherpa tip pool (we suggest $500 for summit climbers)
- Tips for RMI Guides
- Rescue costs or costs associated with early departure from the expedition
- Personal communications expenses (Satellite phone, phone, fax, email)
- Personal expenses, room charges and laundry
- Personal drinks and beverages
- International departure taxes
- Nepal Custom Duties / Chinese Custom Duties
- Additional personal Sherpa support is available, but must be arranged before the expedition.
- Medical, hospitalization and evacuation costs (by any means)
- The cost of delays due to weather, road or trail conditions, flight delays, government intervention, illness, medical issues hospitalization, evacuation costs (by helicopter or any other means), or any other contingency which we or our agents cannot control are not included.
* Accommodations are based on double occupancy. A Single Supplement Fee will be charged to those occupying single accommodations by choice or circumstance. The single supplement is not available in huts, tents, or in all hotels.
Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. reserves the right to modify the land cost of a trip at any time before departure.
Safety is RMI's number one priority. Our guides manage significant hazards inherent in mountaineering such as avalanches, ice fall, rock fall, inclement weather, and high winds, but they cannot eliminate them. RMI guides draw from their wealth of experience and training to make sound decisions that improve your chance of reaching the summit without compromising the necessary margin of safety.
Please clearly understand that mountaineering is inherently a hazardous sport. You are choosing to engage in an activity in which participants have been injured and killed. While those accidents are indeed infrequent, they may occur at any time and be out of our control. We ask that participants acknowledge the risk and hazards of mountaineering, and make their own choices about whether or not to engage in this activity.
Mountaineering is both an individual challenge and a team endeavor. Some of the responsibility for the team is carried by the individual climbers. For this reason, we ask that each participant:
- is physically and mentally fit, properly attired and equipped, and continues to self assess throughout the program to ensure as safe a climb as possible. If a climber's own physical fitness limits his or her ability to safely continue upward, that can have a negative impact on the summit experience or opportunity of other climb participants.
- honestly and accurately describe themselves, in terms of fitness, health and skills, and their equipment to their guides, and that they adhere to the advice of their professional mountain guide.
Age-Appropriate Guidelines & Restrictions
In the interest of the safety and well-being of all participants, RMI adheres to the following age-appropriate guidelines and restrictions on all climbing programs, domestic and international.
- Ages 15 & under: No participants age 15 & under
- Ages 16 & 17: Accompanied by parent or legal guardian
- Ages 18 & above: No restrictions
An individual’s birthday must precede the departure date of the program. For example: a 15 year old who turns 16 on July 1 may participate on a program beginning July 2.
Accompaniment by parent or legal guardian is required for the program or climb.
Under-aged participants on Private Climb or Group Climb programs are assessed on an individual basis.
RMI's program plans and itineraries are subject to change or adjustment based on a number of factors. These include, but are not limited to, route conditions, weather, terrain, and many other factors. RMI has complete discretion to change plans to accommodate any of these or other factors, including discretion to change program schedule or itinerary, and change guides or staff, as necessary for the proper and safe conduct of the program.
We reserve the right to cancel any program due to inadequate signups, weather or route conditions. In such a case, a full refund is given; however, RMI cannot be responsible for any additional expenses incurred in preparing for the program (i.e., airline tickets, equipment purchase or rental, hotel reservations).
RMI cannot guarantee that you will reach the summit. Weather, route conditions, your own abilities, or the abilities of other climbers may create circumstances that make an ascent unsafe, and you or your entire party may have to turn around without reaching the summit. Failure to reach the summit due to a person's own lack of fitness or to any of the events associated with mountaineering (such as weather, route, avalanche hazard, team dynamics, etc.), are not Rainier Mountaineering, Inc.'s responsibility and will not result in refund or reschedule.
If the Participant decides to leave a trip at any time after the start of the trip and prior to its conclusion, he or she will not be entitled to a refund.
RMI reserves the right to dismiss the Participant from a trip or to send the Participant to a lower altitude at any time if RMI determines, in its sole discretion, that the Participant is not physically, technically, or psychologically prepared for or capable of participating in the program.