Nepali Times
Skiing down Cho Oyu

Climbing the 8,000m Cho Oyu is hard enough, but for some people getting to the top is not enough. They insist on skiing down.

Like 23-year-old Dutch climber, Greg Nieuwenhuys, who climbed and then skied down the world's sixth highest mountain on 28 April. This year is the 50th anniversary of the first ascent of Cho Oyu by a Swiss expedition, but it is not getting as much worldwide media attention as the Everest anniversary did last year. Only 15km away from Everest, Cho Oyu is overshadowed by the world's highest mountain in more ways than one.

Nieuwenhuys was out to change all that. He wanted to prove that Cho Oyu is a strong mountain with its own personality and wanted to test his own limit. Two weeks later, he still looks completely washed out. Having climbed without oxygen, and racked by a cough on the mountain, he injured a rib.

Together with his climbing partner Joost Schreve, 29, and doctor Herman Frima, 29, the trio spent seven months preparing for the expedition. Starting with getting $100,000 in sponsorships, they went to the Alps for a ski and climb training session and spent a month acclimatising and skiing in Langtang down some 46 degree couloirs. Back in the Netherlands there isn't anywhere to practice since the highest mountain there is 321m high.

"It is difficult to define a successful ski descent," says mountaineering chronicler Elizabeth Hawley. "It's a very rare person who is crazy enough to try."

The team set out to base camp from the Tibet side on 23 March. It took a herd of yaks to carry up the 1,500kg of gear and food, including 1,000m of rope, 130kg of rice and communications equipment. The team was overcome with stomach ailments and effects of altitude, and had to descend to base camp. They set off again on 26 April and reached the earlier highpoint of 8,020m two days later. This time Nieuwenhuys was able to carry on. Everest came in view. He had reached the summit.

"To be honest, I did not really enjoy the moment," Nieuwenhuys says. "I was so extremely tired. We took a couple of pictures and clicked into my skis and pointed them towards base camp. It was a descent I will never forget."
The real adventure had just begun. Nieuwenhuys started to feel better and better as he raced down in his skis (see pic). "It's difficult and you have to be very careful, a mistake can be fatal, but it is an amazing feeling to make your own tracks in such high altitude and to ski down difficult steep ridges, passing climbers who are on their way up."

Nieuwenhuys had to replace his skis with crampons twice. The first time was after 100 vertical meters of skiing, because the weather deteriorated quickly. After a night in camp 3, he continued the ski descent from 7,448m to an ice cliff at 6,800m. A short abseil, and he clicked into his skis again. Asked what he'll do next, Nieuwenhuys says: "I imagine I'll be back." (Maarten Post)

Heavy traffic on Everest
A total of 33 climbers, 14 of them Sherpas, climbed the world's highest peak this week during a break in the weather on 15 -16 May. All were climbing up the slassic southeast ridge.

The climbers belonged to four different expeditions. Among those on top was the legendary Apa Sherpa who got to the top for a record 14th time on Monday morning.

The other climbers were from South Korea, New Zealand, Mexico, Scotland and the US.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)