Expedition Watch: Speed Climbing and Skiing Cho Oyu

Aug 16, 2012
Outside Magazine

Benedikt Böhm leads the charge. Photo: Dynafit

One of the next big high-altitude speed feats will take place on Cho Oyu. In late September, German mountaineers Benedikt Böhm, 34, and Sebastian Haag, 33, will attempt to climb and then ski down the 26,864-foot peak in less than one day. Ski mountaineer Greg Hill will accompany the pair to get video footage of their ascent and descent. The 8,000-meter mission is nothing new for Böhm and Haag, who have completed speed climbs and ski descents of Gasherbrum II (26,361 feet) and Mustagh Ata (22,966 feet), and have completed speed climbs of Manaslu (26,247 feet) and Broad Peak (26,414 feet). We contacted Böhm by email to learn more about their mission up and down Cho Oyu, the sixth highest peak in the world.

DATES: August 19-October 2

THE PLAN: The team will arrive in Kathmandu and travel to 19,685-foot Mera Peak in Nepal, where they will climb and ski the mountain to acclimatize. They will then move on to the 16,000-foot base camp of Cho Oyu and attempt to climb to the summit via the northwest route. The plan is to climb the mountain, from the base camp to the summit, and then ski down, in less than 24 hours.

THE TOUGHEST PART: "The toughest part will clearly be once you reach the death zone above 7,000m. Speeding up in this altitude is the toughest you can do. Skiing down is even worse. Especially since these descents are usually not made for skiing. So far (on previous 8k peaks) we found ourselves mainly in you fall, you die terrain. So 120 percent power and concentration with 60-70 percent less oxygen." —Benedikt Böhm

_T9J1338Sebastian Haag (left) and Benedikt Bohm. Photo: Dynafit

WHY: "Because it’s the premier league. The Formula One. We didn’t start with 8ks. We started in the alps as kids and slowly moved our way up from 3,000m to 4,000m to 5,000m, etc. We learned and went through a long learning process. It’s hard to motivate for a 6k expedition when you know that you are potentially able also to achieve 8k (26,247 feet). It’s like playing basketball in the NBA and then voluntary playing back three leagues lower." —Benedikt Böhm

SPONSORS: Dynafit and Gore-Tex

FOLLOW ALONG: Dynafit.com

—Joe Spring

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