Back to Logbook Archive for 2010 | Back to Home Page

Derryman at 8000m

Date: May '88 (historical Interest)
Submitted by: Alan Tees

I got this from Wes Sterritt of Crawford Sq. Derry (Like myself), and more recently Newtownmore, Scotland, in the course of my MI Database investigations.

1988 Scottish Cho Oyo Expedition.

The 3 out of the 6 of us on the trip who made the summit attempt were: Dave Walsh Dave Morris Myself Memories from all 3 of us of the actual attempt are a bit hazy, as one thing led to another resulting in us spending too long too high (we used no O2 on the trip). My own are: Windy for first attempt from last camp at about 7600m - all bailed out after a couple of hours. Next day tried again - Both Dave's sensibly carried bivy kit for the attempt. I being a wimp and not wanting to fall off elected to carry a rope instead in the hope that somebody would pull me along! As it turned out we all soloed the upper slopes to the flat plateau top of Cho Oyu on fairly easy mixed ground. As my memory then justifies things I bailed out (not having any bivy kit and envisaging a long walk to the actual top and possibly a cold night). Here my memory, as does that of all the other two is at variance (I'd like to think my was the correct version). I dropped back to the tent to await the return of both Daves.

Dave Walsh was the first to arrive back (my memory has it was late that night - his on the other hand was that it was the following night!) The next morning (whenever that was), with still no sight of the other Dave (Morris) and a wasted Dave Walsh from his previous day's effort and a now deteriorating weather picture the best course of action was for Dave Walsh to make a speedy exit and descend off the hill. I awaited the arrival back of the other Dave.....some time later, no doubt bored (perhaps after 2/3 nights around 7800m and not thinking that straight) elected to go back up through the rock band to the plateau to have a look for him. Mid afternoon I spotted his red suit 100m away from me descending through the final rock band which was within sight of our tents I turned around and descended back to the camp. When I next turned around I saw him heading back up again the way he had just come (he denies all of this!) Late that night about 9pm a somewhat confused and frostbitten Dave Morris eventually arrived back at the tent. The following am after a bit of a "lie in" to mid day we struck camp and commenced our descent in a storm and white out and loaded avalanche prone slopes.

We pitched a tent late pm somewhere on the upper glacier. The next day after descending fixed lines and traversing to the descent ridge we met up with Stefan Worner and his Swiss team - who were in the middle of abandoning their current attempt. They were surprised to see us as they unaware anyone was on the hill (as I said we had been too high, too long). In reality they bailed us out; the pair of us were in a bit of a mess Dave having gone upside down (again) on the last abseil and if I'm honest I was by now a bit pissed off with his environmentally commendable attempts to strip the mountain of any gear we came across (a luxury we could not afford)- and was happy to leave the Swiss to assist him back to ridge. All kissed and made up and lived happily ever after, apart from poor Stephan who having got himself and his 3 clients to the top of Cho Oyu the following week then died himself from altitude sickness on the way down. High altitude climbing - hymmm...I'm not so sure! As a post script to our own summit efforts - in truth we were all a bit wasted by the time we made our summit attempt; the early part of the trip involving a somewhat circuitous route up a side valley to give the appearance of not going into Tibet (at the time I was working in Nepal to pay the mortgage and could not afford to get banned by making any non-authorised & therefore illegal incursions).

We had a Nepalese army expedition liaison officer with us and despite our best efforts could not buy him off (Scottish expedition!) Consequently for the 2 weeks prior to arriving at the normal Base camp (on the Tibetan side) we had made a great play of making our ascent of Cho Oyu via the Nangpa Gosum ridge (still to the best of my knowledge unclimbed!).

We had intended to use skis on the upper glacier slopes of Cho Oyu but having trashed ourselves on the lower sections of the Nangpa Gosum for 2 weeks that idea went quickly out the window - a good job as conditions on Chou Oyo were concrete hard neve and not the powder conditions as described to me by the owner / Guido of the Argentier climbing shop whom I had spoken to the previous season! Happy New Year. Regards Wes

Photo of Route