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42 days in Tibet
Grade: Advanced


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The sixth highest mountain on earth at 8,188 meters, Cho Oyu is located a mere twelve miles west of Mount Everest and lies on the border between China and Nepal. This beautifully sculpted peak is known by locals as the “Turquoise Goddess“ and is approached from the north by way of the Tibetan Plateau. Our fully supported expedition ascends the moderate Northwest Ridge or the normal route. While considered one of the more modest eight thousand-meter peaks, the route is long and poses some significant difficulties including a series of steep ice cliffs. Cho Oyu is a great introduction into high altitude climbing or for those eventually seeking to climb Mount Everest. The mountain while not posing substantial technical climbing difficulty, does require a high level of climbing proficiency on steep and exposed terrain at high altitude.

Cho Oyu • Northwest Ridge Expedition • 42 Days

Our expedition begins in the historic city of Kathmandu known for its fascinating Nepalese culture and ancient temples. We have the option of traveling overland to Tibet via the famous “Friendship Highway“ or by air to Lhasa once the traditional seat of the Dalai Lama and home of the remarkable Potala Palace. After arriving in the traditional Tibetan village of Tingri, we approach the mountain from Chinese Base Camp and the Gyabrag Glacier. We trek to Advanced Base Camp located at the base of Cho Oyu and just east of Nangpa La (18,753 ft), a glaciated pass that serves as the main trading route between Tibet and the Khumbu Valley. Over the next three weeks our ascent follows an acclimatization schedule of equipment carries and rest days. During the climb we ascend the steep ice cliff at 21,100 feet as our climbing team works to establish a series of three high camps on the upper flanks of the mountain. The views of Mount Everest and the Khumbu region from the summit of Cho Oyu are nothing less than spectacular.

What experience do I need to climb Cho Oyu?

Climbing Cho Oyu is not an easy task. This is an expedition that requires nearly two months in Tibet, as well as prior training. It takes more than a few months to develop the climbing experience and skills needed to participant in this adventure. For many, summiting an 8000 meter peak can be a culmination of years of preparation and training, both mental and physical.

Before you consider participating in a Cho Oyu expedition, you should have four to five significant climbing expeditions under your belt. These may include Denali, Aconcagua, Mount Vinson, or other Himalayan peaks such as Island Peak. Only seasoned climbers will be accepted for the expedition group so if you are just starting out, please consider taking one of our mountaineering courses or Seven Summits climbs.

Peak physical conditioning with advanced technical skills are required to be eligible for this climb. A brief roster of the skills you must have include: extensive high altitude climbing experience, advanced mountaineering and technical skills, crampon techniques, glacier travel, fixed line use, ice axe skills, experience with ice axe self-arrest, crevasse rescue, rope knowledge including knots and anchors, and extreme weather camping. Read our The Four-Legged Stool blog post for a better understanding of what skills are required to climb an 8ooo meter peak.

If you aspire to climb Cho Oyu and are new to climbing, check out our Northwest climbs and courses to get you started developing the basics. From there, we can recommend incrementally challenging expeditions to set you on a road toward developing the skills you will need to summit an 8000 meter peak such as Everest, Manaslu or Cho Oyu.

Day to Day Itinerary

Day 1 • Arrive Kathmandu
Day 2-4 • Kathmandu
Day 5 • Drive to Timure
Day 6 • Drive to Kriyong
Day 7 • Kriyong
Day 8 • Drive to Tingri
Day 9 • Tingri
Day 10 • Drive to Chinese Base Camp
Day 11-12 • Base Camp • 15,000 ft
Day 13 • Trek to Interim Camp
Day 14 • Trek to Advance Base Camp
Day 15-31 • Climb of Cho Oyu
– Camp I • 21,000 ft
– Camp II • 23,100 ft
– Camp III • 24,500 ft
Day 32 • Summit Day • 26,906 ft
Day 33 • Trek to Chinese Base Camp
Day 34 • Drive to Tingri
Day 35 • Drive to Kiryong
Day 36 • Drive to Kathmandu
Day 37 • Depart Kathmandu
Day 38-42 • Contingency Summit Day


Cho Oyu Expedition

Our Cho Oyu itinerary remains flexible. We seek to gain adequate acclimatization managing our exposure at higher elevations.

Day 1 • Arrive Kathmandu

Arrive at Tribhuvan International Airport, Nepal (KTM). Our trek begins in the historic city of Kathmandu, known for its fascinating Nepalese culture and ancient temples. The hotel is located in the popular Thamel district jammed with restaurants and shops selling Nepali handicrafts.

Day 2-4 • Kathmandu

We have an expedition orientation and equipment check. As we have time we will visit local historical sites in Kathmandu. Apply and wait for Chinese Visas.

Day 5 • Drive to Timure

Our expedition departs the Kathmandu Valley, driving through the Nepali countryside to the border town of Timure. We cross the river passing the international border of Nepal and China.

Day 6 • Drive to Kriyong

We drive across the Tibetan Plateau to Kriyong.

Day 7 • Kriyong

Acclimatize day in Kriyong.

Day 8 • Drive to Tingri

We continue driving across the Tibetan Plateau to the small trading town of Tingri.

Day 9 • Tingri

Acclimatize day in Tingri. Enjoy the spectacular views of Cho Oyu and Mount Everest rising high above the Tibetan Plateau.

Day 10 • Chinese Base Camp • 15,000 ft

Today we drive through the scenic valley leading to Chinese basecamp.

Day 11-12 • Chinese Base Camp • 15,000 ft

Acclimatization day and organize gear.

Day 13 • Trek to Interim Camp • 17,000 ft

After breakfast we will depart on the two day journey to advanced base camp. We cross Ra Chhu River and trek to intermediate camp.

Day 14 • Arrive in Advance Base Camp • 18,500 ft

We trek along the moraine of the Gyabrag Glacier to Advanced Base Camp located at the base of Cho Oyu and just east of the Nangpa La, a glaciated pass that serves as the main trading route between Tibet and the Khumbu Valley.

Day 15-31 • Climb of Cho Oyu

Over the next three weeks our ascent follows an acclimatization schedule of equipment carries and rest days as our climbing team works to establish a series of three high camps on the upper flanks of the mountain. From base camp, the route goes up a meandering glacier till below the Northwest Ridge, a steep, loose slope leads to camp one.

Camp 1 • 21,000 ft to Camp 2 • 23,100 ft

The route continues up the ice and snow covered Northwest Ridge, passing a short but steep ice wall, which is one of the technical cruxes of the route.

Camp 2 • 23,100 ft to Camp 3 • 24,500 ft

From camp 2 to camp 3 the route climbs more steeply up the West Face.

Day 32 • Summit Day • 26,906 ft (8,201 meters)

On summit day, the route climbs directly above camp 3 to a short but steep headwall of rock and ice, the second crux of the route. Above this obstacle, the route continues up the West Face, till the summit plateau is reached. Then a long and gradual climb leads to the top.

Day 33-34 • Trek to Chinese Base Camp • Drive to Tingri

This morning we trek from advanced base camp and once again arrive in Chinese base camp, we transport to Tingri.

Day 35-36 • Drive to Kathmandu

Drive to Kiryong, after crossing the international border we return to Kathmandu.

Day 37 • Depart Kathmandu

Transport to Tribhuvan International Airport for flights home.

Day 38-42 • Contingency Summit Days

Itinerary Notes
Mountain Gurus makes every effort to uphold the scheduled itinerary, although our guides are given discretion to adapt the itinerary for reasons beyond our control or due to the needs of the group. Meal schedule: (B) Breakfast (L) Lunch (D) Dinner




Deposit and Payments

$10,000.00 deposit includes reservation fee, due with application.
Balance due 90 days prior to departure

Price Includes

  • Scheduled land transportation in Nepal and China
  • Hotels in Kathmandu
  • Overland transport from Kathmandu to Cho Oyu Base Camp
  • Guided sightseeing tour
  • Scheduled meals during the trek and expedition
  • Climbing permit and fees
  • Tibet Lodges
  • Single tent accommodations at basecamp
  • Professional mountain guide, high altitude porters
  • Basecamp coordinator and expedition cook staff
  • Dining tent w/ gas heater and hot shower, toilet tent
  • Solar charging, communications
  • Oxygen bottles, mask and regulator, Top-out system
  • Scheduled porter and yak service based on the itinerary
  • Baggage transport (limited to 40kg – 88lbs)
  • All group equipment for the expedition (including tents, stoves, group climbing gear, fixed ropes, emergency oxygen)

Price Does Not Include

  • International airfare and meals during travel
  • Visa fees
  • Hotels in Lhasa
  • Non-scheduled airport transfers
  • Non-scheduled meals
  • Personal gear
  • Communication fees
  • Trip cancellation insurance (highly recommended)
  • Single room (hotels only) and porterage supplement
  • Medical and evacuation coverage (required)
  • Helicopter flights due to delays
  • Early departure fees
  • Excess baggage fees
  • Summit bonus for climbing Sherpa
  • Tips and gratuities


A complete clothing and equipment list specific to your trip will be sent to you in the PreClimb information upon reservation.

Head and Face

  • Warm Hat: Wool/ synthetic, one that covers the ears.
  • Buff or Neck Gaitor
  • Heavyweight Balaclava
  • Sun Hat or Baseball Cap
  • Glacier Glasses: Essential eye protection at altitude. Wrap around style or side shields.
  • Goggles: Dark lenses to help with snow and wind.
  • Sunscreen: SPF 30+
  • Lip Balm: SPF 30+
  • Climbing LED Headlamp: Bring one extra set of batteries.

Upper Body

  • Baselayer Tops: Two synthetic long-sleeve shirts.
  • Mid-layer Top: This is a synthetic or fleece top.
  • Softshell Jacket: This breathable but wind-and-weather resistant jacket. Hoods are highly recommended.
  • Hardshell Jacket: GORE-TEX© or a fully waterproof shell. Hoods are highly recommended.
  • Insulated Jacket: Heavyweight 700+ fill down.
  • 8000 meter Expedition Down Suit: Insulated hood: 700+ fill down


  • Lightweight Gloves: One pair (WINDSTOPPER© is recommended)
  • Softshell Gloves: One pair. Leather palms offer durability and grip.
  • Heavyweight Gloves: Insulated glove with GORE-TEX© or waterproof outer.
  • Expedition Down Mittens w/ wrist straps: One pair
  • Handwarmers / toe warmers: 3 sets of each

Lower Body

  • Baselayer Bottom: Two pair. Synthetic, no cotton
  • Softshell Pants: One pair. Synthetic, stretchy, non-insulated
  • Hardshell Pants: One pair of GORE-TEX© pants full-length side zips are required; you may need to take off your Hardshell pants without removing your boots.
  • Insulated Pants: One pair of synthetic insulated pants with full side zips.
  • Gaiters: Full-sized waterproof gaiters that must fit snugly over your mountaineering boots.


  • Mountaineering Boots: Full shank crampon compatible. Heavy weight synthetic/ hybrid mountaineering boots. 8000 meter mountaineering boots are required.
  • Mediumweight Socks: Two pair of wool or synthetic socks.
  • Heavyweight Socks: Two pair of wool or synthetic socks for sleeping in and for summit day.

Note: Please read our Mountaineering Boot and Crampon guide for more information.


  • Sleeping Bag: Bring a warm bag (rated to minus 40ᵒ fahrenheit).
  • Sleeping Pads: A full-length closed-cell foam pad and inflatable pad.

Packing and Backpack

  • Backpack: One 70L pack with good support, adequate to carry personal, and group gear. The pack should fit properly, have a good waist belt, and be able to carry gear between 30-40 lbs.
  • Duffle/zip Bag: Two large size, transporting gear to basecamp via mules.
  • Liner Bags: 4-6 Large plastic contractor bags.

Climbing Gear

  • Ice Axe: 55-65cm mountaineering axe.
  • Crampons: 12-point steel with anti-balling plates.
  • Climbing Helmet: Lightweight
  • Alpine Harness: Lightweight alpine harness with adjustable leg loops.
  • Trekking Poles: Adjustable and collapsible with snow baskets.
  • Locking Carabiners: (4) Large pear-shaped, screw gate locking carabiners.
  • Non-locking Carabiners: (4) Wire gate non-locking carabiners.
  • Ascender: Left or right handed
  • Rappel/Delay device: Figure 8 recommended
  • Prussik Cord: 40 feet, 6mm perlon
  • Nylon Sling: (2) 60cm nylon slings


  • Water Bottle: Two, 1L wide-mouth plastic bottles. NALGENE©
  • Water Bottle Parkas: Two, fully insulated water bottle covers.

Personal Health and First Aid

  • Snacks and drinks
  • Small personal first-aid kit and medications
  • Plastic bowl, insulated mug, and spoon
  • Toilet paper, blue bag or wag bag
  • Earplugs



Program Location:
Begins and ends in Kathmandu, Nepal

Visa/Entry Information:
Passport must have six months or more validity remaining at the time of entry. American citizens may obtain a visa prior to travel or upon arrival at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu. 90-day multiple-entry visa ($100)

A valid passport and visa are required to enter and exit China and must be obtained from Chinese Embassies or Consulates before traveling to China. Since visa policies change often MG will update you once your application and deposit are accepted.

Health & Immunizations:
Immunizations are not required for entry into Nepal or China

Flight Travel Information:
Tribhuvan International Airport (KTM), Kathmandu, Nepal

International Departures:
Itineraries reflect the date and time you will need to arrive in country for a program. Mountain Gurus programs begin and end in the countries destination city. When booking your flight, you will need to account for travel time and crossing the international dateline if needed. It is easiest to give your booking agent the day and time you will need to arrive.

Meals and Food:
All meals are provided as per meal schedule. See itinerary.

A complete clothing and equipment list specific to your program will be sent to you in the pre-departure packet upon reservation. For your safety and comfort, it is extremely important that you adhere strictly to the equipment list.

Cho Oyu Fitness & Training

Climbing Grade: Advanced   

As one of the highest points in the world, this climb requires significant physical, mental, and technical skills. Previous experience at altitude and expedition style climbing is a must. Be prepared to carry 40 lbs. packs at altitude, including supplemental oxygen tank. Experience with fixed lines, and steep snow / ice climbing are essential to making this trip a safe and enjoyable climb.

Here’s a suggested progression of climbs before attempting Cho Oyu.

  • Northwest Climb and/or course (Mount Baker, Mount Rainier, Mount Shuksan)
  • Aconcagua
  • Denali

Frequently Asked Questions

Will I be able to contact friends and family while on the mountain?

Most cell phone providers will work in Tibet, check your provider for overseas rates before you leave. Cell phone and wifi service is not available at advanced basecamp and above. Thuraya satellite phone service and wifi is available at basecamp and above at higher camps ($100-$500 depending on usage).