It has been speculated for days, now it is official: The Chinese-Tibetan authorities have granted permits for the first time in three years to an expedition with foreign mountaineers for the eight-thousanders Cho Oyu and Shishapangma located in Tibet. The team of the Nepalese operator Climbalaya includes as clients the Norwegian Kristin Harila and her compatriot Matias Myklebust, who accompanies her as a photographer and filmmaker, as well as the Swiss Sophie Lavaud and the Mexican Viridiana Alvarez Chavez.
Harila had scaled twelve of the 14 eight-thousanders last year – on the normal routes, with bottled oxygen and with the support of Dawa Ongju Sherpa and Pasdawa Sherpa. For Cho Oyu and Shishapangma, the 37-year-old had not received permits last fall, as the mountains of Tibet remained closed to foreign climbers since 2020 due to the Corona pandemic. This year, the Norwegian not only wants to make up for the two missing eight-thousander ascents, but also to complete the project of the 14 highest mountains once again – this time allegedly without bottled oxygen.
The 54-year-old Swiss Lavaud is still missing in her eight-thousander collection Shishapangma (there she reached “only” the Central Summit in 2012, which is 19 meters lower than the main summit) and Nanga Parbat. Lavaud also climbs the eight-thousanders with a breathing mask. The Mexican Alvarez Chavez, born in 1983, has already stood – also with bottled oxygen – on the summits of the five highest mountains on earth: Mount Everest, K2, Kangchenjunga, Lhotse and Makalu.
Will Gelje Sherpa join them later?
The expedition leader is Mingma Sherpa, head of Climbalaya. On the list of team members published by him, five Climbing Sherpas are also named: Pemba Tenjin Sherpa, Pemba Tenjing Sherpa, Chhiring Wanchu Sherpa, Ngima Rita Sherpa, Tenjen Sherpa.
Not on the Climbalaya list – as was actually expected – is Gelje Sherpa. Possibly because the 30-year-old Nepalese only wants to scale Cho Oyu, the last eight-thousander still missing from his collection? Allegedly, the Climbalaya team wants to climb Shishapangma first and then Cho Oyu. Maybe Gelje will join the team later. But this is just my speculation.
Update 12 April: “Unfortunately I wasn’t able to receive a visa for China to climb Cho Oyu and Shishapangma,” writes Gelje Sherpa on Instagram, “but I will be guiding on Everest this season.”