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November 28, 2007

"Experiencing Tibetan culture and climbing an 8,000 meter peak in Sept 1997"

by Chris Horley

It was just over 10 years ago that I went on an expedition to climb the sixth highest peak, Cho Oyu at 26,901 feet.  This peak sits on the border of Nepal and Tibet and is 18 miles from Everest. The climb was approached from the north side and required several days of travel through the heart of Buddhist Tibet.  I will be showing slides and some video of this disappearing Tibetan culture. The second half of the show will be about the climb.

This was to be my first summit above 20,000 ft and I had the opportunity to join a guided expedition lead by Eric Simonson and guides Robert Link and Jake Norton.  We had a small group of six climbers and several Sherpa's.  Unlike many guided 8000 M expeditions, we did carries to high camps to stock them and also carried gear on the final push.  What did separate this from a self-guided trip was the absence of the considerable strategizing to predict who, when and what would move up the mountain.  Observing the process was a valuable lesson for future self guided trips.

The post monsoon season in 1997 was not favorable to nearby peaks.  As described by Eric: "The 1997 post monsoon season in the Everest region of the Himalaya was largely a bust.  Dozens of teams failed on Everest from both the north and south sides, and all attempts on Nuptse, Lhotse and Makalu were also rebuffed. "

I will discuss the preparations and training involved for these types of climbs and also discuss the physical and psychological dynamics of climbing at high altitude.

"We made it this time. We are happy. Next time maybe we'll be a day late and a dollar short and get our butts kicked." 

More details of the climb can be found here.  Chris' abbreviated mountaineering biography can be found here.

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