A Cho Oyu expedition is a bold and ambitious attempt, as it entails climbing the sixth-highest mountain in the world, soaring to an elevation of 8,188 meters (26,864 feet) above sea level. Located on the Nepal-Tibet border in the Himalayas, Cho Oyu offers a significant challenge to mountaineers from around the globe.

Cho Oyu is a prominent peak known for its magnificent beauty and challenging climbing opportunities. The mountain is part of the Mahalangur range and is situated a short distance west of Mount Everest. Climbing Cho Oyu is tough, and it’s not for beginners. You have to be good at high-altitude mountain climbing, know how to use the right gear like ice axes and crampons and be ready for extreme conditions.

If you are thinking about Expedition inside the Nepal Himalayas and don’t have any experience, we suggest you try trekking first. You trek up to Everest base camp trek, Everest base camp via Gokyo lake trek, or the Everest three-pass trek.

A group of climbers making their way up the snow-covered slopes of Cho Oyu, the sixth-highest mountain in the world. The majestic peak stands tall against a clear blue sky. The title "Cho Oyu Expedition | Full Information" is displayed at the top of the image.

A Cho Oyu expedition is not merely a physical test but a journey into one of the world’s most spectacular and challenging high-altitude landscapes, demanding a deep respect for the mountain and the environment it resides in.

How long does the Cho Oyu expedition take place?

A Cho Oyu expedition usually takes around six to eight weeks. In the beginning, climbers spend a few weeks getting used to the high altitudes by going up higher and higher. Then they set up a central camp, where they keep their supplies. After that, they make stops at camps higher up the mountain, like resting points. The main part of the expedition is when they try to reach the summit, usually waiting for good weather. Once they make it to the top, they come back down to lower camps, and eventually, they go back to lower elevations.
The length of the expedition can change based on things like the weather and the plan of the climb, but these stages are what climbers typically go through when trying to reach the top of Cho Oyu.

Best time for the Cho Oyu expedition

The best time for a Cho Oyu expedition is during the pre-monsoon spring season and the post-monsoon autumn season. These two periods offer more favorable weather conditions, making climbing Cho Oyu safer and more feasible.

Spring Season (March to May)

Spring is the most popular and preferred season for Cho Oyu expeditions. The weather during this period is relatively stable and favorable for climbing. The skies are clearer, offering better visibility, and the days are longer, allowing for more climbing hours. The snow conditions are usually better, making it easier to navigate the mountain.

Autumn Season (September to November)

The autumn season is another excellent time for Cho Oyu expeditions.
The weather is typically stable, with clear skies and good visibility, similar to the spring season. The temperatures are moderate, which can make climbing more comfortable. Crowds are usually smaller in the autumn compared to the spring.

Seasons to avoid for the Cho Oyu expedition

While Autumn and Spring are the best seasons for the Cho Oyu expedition, there are certain seasons to avoid in order to ensure a successful climb.

Monsoon Season (June to August)

The monsoon season is the least favorable time for a Cho Oyu expedition. During these months, the region experiences heavy and continuous rainfall, particularly in the lower elevations. This leads to unstable and hazardous conditions, including landslides, washed-out trails, and dangerous river crossings. The monsoon season makes climbing extremely challenging, and it is generally not recommended.

Winter Season (December to February)

Climbing Cho Oyu during the winter months is also discouraged. The winter season in the Himalayas brings harsh conditions, including freezing temperatures, heavy snowfall, and strong winds. These extreme weather conditions make climbing Cho Oyu difficult and dangerous. Avalanches become a significant risk, and the mountain is typically not climbed during this period.

Essential gear and equipment for the Cho Oyu expedition

Climbing Equipment

  • Climbing Helmet
  • Crampons
  • Climbing Harness
  • Ice Ax
  • Multi- Led headlamp
  • Ascender
  • Locking and non-locking Carabiners
  • Ski poles
  • Rappel/ Belay device
  • Slings
  • Ropes
  • Lightweight pulleys
  • Prusik Cords
  • Avalanche Transceiver

Upper Body Cloths

  • Lightweight Merino t-shirt
  • Lightweight Merino long-sleeve t-shirt
  • Medium-weight fleece pullover
  • Fleece jacket
  • Breathable and Waterproof jacket with a large hood that can fit the helmet
  • Lightweight down jacket
  • Warm down/ duvet suit
  • Lightweight thermal base layers

Lower Body Cloths

  • Lightweight underwear briefs
  • Walking shorts
  • Walking trouser
  • Lightweight thermal bottoms
  • Heavy thermal bottoms
  • Fleece trouser
  • Waterproof and breathable trousers with full side zips
  • Warm down/ duvet bibs


  • Lightweight poly-liner gloves
  • Medium weight gloves
  • Warm fleece mitt liner paired with over mitt


  • Synthetic or warm wool hat that covers the ears
  • Scarf, buff, or neck sleeve
  • Head Scarf or Bandana
  • Balaclava
  • Sun cap/ hat
  • Face mask
  • Ski goggles (light or dark lens optional)
  • Eyes and nose coverage eyewear
  • Glacier sunglass


  • Medium or heavy wool or poly socks
  • Poly or wool Liner socks
  • Lightweight trekking socks
  • Lightweight wool or cotton socks
  • Overboot or good quality plastic shell Aveolite liners with inner boot
  • Sturdy synthetic or leather hiking boots with good ankle
  • Cross trainers or running shoes
  • Down boot (optional)

Travel Bags

  • Medium rucksack (3000- 4500 cubic inches/ 50- 70 liter)
  • Large waterproof duffle kit bag (7500 cubic inch/ 120 L)
  • Pack cover
  • Small and protective padlocks

Sleeping Gear

  • Down sleeping bag for high altitude (rated to handle -35 / -30 )
  • Additional sleeping bag for base camp (rated to handle -20 / -30)
  • Closed-cell foam mat for base camp and high-altitude

Personal Hygiene

  • High SPF Sunscreen
  • Moisturizer
  • Body lotion
  • Anti-mosquito cream
  • toothbrush/ paste set
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Synthetic towel
  • Wet Wipes and toilet paper
  • Bar soap

First-aid Kit

  • Small personal kit including aspirin, band-aids, tape, personal medication, etc
  • Personal medication with prescription
  • Skin blister repair kit
  • Small bottle of anti-diarrhea pills
  • A small bottle of anti-headache pills
  • A small bottle of cough medicine
  • Water treatment tablets
  • Water filters
  • Antibiotics for chest or stomach

Permits required for the Cho Oyu expedition

Permits required for a Cho Oyu peak climbing expedition depend on whether you are approaching from the Tibet (China) side or the Nepal side. Here are the typical permits needed for a Cho Oyu climb:

  • For the Tibet (China) Side:

Chinese Mountaineering Association (CMA) Permit

This is the primary permit required for climbing Cho Oyu from the Tibet side. You need to obtain this permit through the CMA, and it covers climbing Cho Oyu.

Tibet Entry Permit

This permit is required for foreign travelers to enter Tibet and is usually arranged through a travel agency or tour operator in Tibet.

Aliens’ Travel Permit

In addition to the Tibet Entry Permit, an Aliens’ Travel Permit may be necessary to visit certain restricted areas within Tibet. Check with local authorities or your tour operator to confirm if this permit is needed.

  • For the Nepal Side:

Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) Permit

Climbers attempting Cho Oyu from the Nepal side need a climbing permit issued by the Nepal Mountaineering Association. The NMA oversees climbing permits for various peaks in Nepal, including Cho Oyu.

Trekkers’ Information Management System (TIMS) Card

While it’s not always mandatory for Cho Oyu climbers, a TIMS card might be required if your expedition involves trekking through the Khumbu region.

Sagarmatha National Park Entry Permit

If your route through Nepal includes areas within Sagarmatha National Park, you’ll need an entry permit for this park.

Visa and Passport

Ensure you have a valid passport with at least six months of remaining validity and the appropriate tourist visa for Nepal.

Climbing Insurance

Many expedition companies and local authorities may require you to have climbing insurance that covers the cost of rescue and medical treatment in case of emergencies.

The difficulty of the Cho Oyu expedition

Climbing Cho Oyu is tough but doable. It’s not the hardest mountain, but it’s still really high, and that makes it challenging. You need to get used to the high altitude, which can make you sick if you’re not careful. You also need to know how to use your climbing gear, especially on the snowy and icy parts. The weather can be very cold and windy, and there’s a risk of avalanches in some areas. The climb takes about two months, and you need to stay strong and healthy. So, it’s not easy, but many climbers join guided expeditions with experts to make it safer.

Outline itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Kathmandu
Day 2: Kathmandu sightseeing & expedition preparation
Day 3: Scenic flight to Gongkar Airport, Lhasa
Day 4: Full-day Lhasa sightseeing
Day 5: Drive to Gyantse
Day 6: Drive to Xigatse
Day 7: Drive to Tingri
Day 8: Acclimatization day at Tingri & short hike
Day 9: Drive to Chinese Base Camp
Day 10: Acclimatization & preparation for the expedition
Day 11: Trek to middle camp
Day 12: Trek to Ad. Base Camp of Cho Oyu
Day 13-39: Climbing period- Summiting Mount Cho Oyu
Day 40: Trek back to middle camp & return drive to Tingri
Day 41: Drive back to Xigatse
Day 42: Scenic flight/drive to Lhasa
Day 43: Scenic flight to Kathmandu
Day 44: Final departure


Is there a risk of altitude sickness in the Cho Oyu expedition?

Yes, there’s a risk of getting altitude sickness in the Cho Oyu expedition. The mountain is really tall, and the air up there has very little oxygen. This can lead to problems like headaches, feeling sick, and dizziness. In serious cases, it can even affect your lungs or brain. To stay safe, climbers go up slowly, giving their bodies time to get used to the thin air. Drinking enough water, getting plenty of rest, and listening to experienced guides are all important to avoid getting sick. If climbers start feeling unwell, they need to tell someone right away to stay safe during their Cho Oyu expedition.

How difficult is Cho Oyu?

Cho Oyu is the world’s sixth-highest mountain and is considered to be the easiest of the fourteen 8,000m peaks.

Who climbed Cho Oyu first?

Cho Oyu was first climbed on October 19, 1954, via the northwest ridge by Herbert Tichy, Joseph Jöchler, and Sherpa Pasang Dawa Lama of an Austrian expedition.

Which season is best for the Cho Oyu expedition?

The seasons like Spring and Autumn are best for the Cho Oyu expedition, providing the best possible weather conditions.

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