Three records on Cho Oyu

Three records on Cho Oyu 1984/1985

"It was the first winter climb, and the route was wonderful, through the wall that even famous Messner couldn't manage."

The expedition's aim

After summiting Everest, Andrzej Zawada dreamt about winter expedition on K2. After joint, Polish-Canadian reconnaissance under K2 (winter 1983) and seeing that organising an expedition on Karkoram's highest peak (and the 2nd highest in the world) was impossible at that time, Zawada proposed climbing Cho Oyu (virgin peak during winter). It was a bold idea: he wanted to use a new route - through almost three km high, southeast wall. Until 1984 only one expedition succeeded in climbing this wall - two Austrians, Edi Koblmüller and Alois Furtner, in 1978; they deemed the route extremely difficult. In winter 1982, Reinhold Messner took on the challenge; Wojciech Kurtyka took part in this international expedition. Messner's team gave up already on December 19th and in his correspondence with Elizabeth Hawley, Messner wrote: "We were lucky that we all came back, even without reaching the summit." Nevertheless, Andrzej Zawada decided to take up this challenge.


Official name of the expedition:
International Winter Cho Oyu Expedition 1984-85

Expedition's status:
international, Polish-Canadian expedition

new route on the southeast wall

Members: 12

Base established: 30 December 1984

Summit reached: 12 February 1985

Members of the expedition

Polish members

Andrzej Zawada – leader (56 yrs., KW Warsaw)

Maciej Berbeka (30 yrs., KW Zakopane)

Eugeniusz Chrobak (45 yrs., KW Warsaw)

Jan Krzysztof Flaczyński – doctor (33 yrs.)

Mirosław Gardzielewski (31 yrs., KW Trójsmiasto)

Zygmunt A. Heinrich (47 yrs., KW Cracow)

Maciej Pawlikowski (33 yrs., KW Zakopane)

Jerzy Kukuczka (36 yrs., KW Katowice)

Canadian members

Marten Berkman (23 yrs.)

André Frappier (47 yrs.)

Jacek „Jacques” Olek – deputy leder (40 yrs.)

Yves Téssier – lekarz (44 yrs.)

Nepalese base personnel

Chhetrapati Shrestha – liaison officer

Thukten Sherpa – sardar

Ang Dawa Sherpa – cook

Bal Bahadur „Maila” – cook's helper

Mohit Syangbo Lama – runner

The expedition's timeline

Baza (fot. Fundacja Himalaizmu Polskiego im. Andrzeja Zawady).


December 17

December 18 - J. Kukuczka asks Andrzej Zawada for permission to leave the expedition and join the Dhaulgiri expedition. He promises that after attacking the summit he'll go back to Cho Oyu.

December 18

December 23

December 24

December 25

December 30


January 3

January 4

January 5

January 6-9

January 10

January 12

January 17-29 - two teams (Berbeka - Pawlikowski and Chrobak - Gardzielewski) anchored the most difficult part of the route - hanging serac, fault above CII - and set up CIII.

January 13-28

January 29

January 30 -
February 4

February 5

February 6-8

February 8 - after the successful attack on Dhaulagiri, J. Kukuczka reaches the BC.

February 9

February 10 - M. Berbeka and M. Pawlikowski anchor the second key part - ice pillar over CIV.

February 11

February 12 - 2:20 pm M. Berbeka and M. Pawlikowski reach the summit of Cho Oyu.

Februrary 12

February 13

February 15 - 5:30 pm Z. Heinrich and J. Kukuczka reach the summit of Cho Oyu.

February 15

February 18-19

February 22-24

March 1

March 17

The expedition's result

For the first time in the history of himalaism, a new route on eight-thousander was established in winter. It was a great feat of Berbeka-Pawlikowski duo, especially because climbing southeastern wall was extremely difficult - on par with rock and ice alpine routes. But here, they were climbing higher than Mont Blanc. The expedition was - as Andrzej Zawada used to say - successful and lucky. Additionally, apat from two records on Cho Oyu, Jerzy Kukuczka added a third one - as the first person in the world he summited two eight-thousanders in one winter. Climbing Cho Oyu was undoubtedly one of the greatest sport achievements in winter mountaineering on eight-thousanders.