Cho Oyu and Everest views from the Gokyo area

The Gokyo valley lies just to the west of mount Everest. Its valley bottom is entirely occupied by the Ngozumpa glacier, a grey, rubbly tongue of ice flowing south from the slopes of Cho Oyu. The lateral moraines at the side of the glacier block off drainage from side valleys on the west side, and as a result these side valleys are filled with lakes.

The resort town of Gokyo lies on the shores of third Gokyo lake, a beautiful turquoise body of water. Most tourists who visit Gokyo ascend Gokyo Ri, a scree pile just opposite the village that offers views of mount Everest, Lhotse, Makalu and Cho Oyu - four of the world's fourteen peaks over 8000 m. Visitors who want more solitude can escape the crowds of Gokyo Ri and head north to fourth and fifth Gokyo lakes, and at the foot of Cho Oyu there are a few ponds known as sixth lakes. There is a lot of area to do off-trail exploration here. Two mountains in this area that are regularly ascended by scramblers are Nameless Fangs and Knobby View. Each of these summits offers tremendous views of a lunar landscape of rock, ice and sky.

Gokyo Lake, from the slopes of Gokyo Ri.

The hike up Gokyo Ri offers great views of Gokyo and its surroundings. The peak in the background is Cholatse.

Everest from Gokyo Ri.

The view from Gokyo Ri reveals the north ridge (skyline to the left of Everest's summit). This is the route climbers follow when ascending from the Tibetan side of the mountain. Early attempts to climb mount Everest by Norton and Mallory in the 1920's and by Tilman, Shipton and Smythe in the late 1930's were on this route. Around 1950, Nepal opened up to foreigners and the Chinese shut down access to Tibet, and this route was largely abandoned by westerners. In recent years this route has become popular again because of the large expedition fees that the Nepali government has been charging.

Nara on Knobby View.

Partway up Knobby View I "bonked", my energy reserves suddenly hit zero. I managed to drag my butt up to a large cairn decorated with prayer flags, but there was one more "knob" to go, perhaps 10-20 m higher (behind Nara). It looked steep and loose, and with my enthousiasm gone I decided to skip it. Judging by the size of the cairn we were at, most people probably do the same. The views were awesome. Behind Nara and the last knob is Cho Oyu (8201 m).

Everest and the Kangchung peaks from Knobby View.

Knobby view (about 5500 m) is probably one of the most strategic viewpoints in the whole Everest area that is accessible to non-climbers. In the foreground the Guybanare glacier joins the main Ngozumpa glacier, leaving a sharp lateral moraine at its margin. The two Kangchung peaks soar above the Guybanare glacier (centre right). In the distance Everest and its neighbors are visible (centre left).

Clopseup of Everest, from knobby view.

From this aspect part of the Lhotse face is visible, which is hidden from view at many other viewpoints in the Khumbu area. The rocky protrusion in the centre of the face is the Geneva Spur. Climbers ascending from the Nepal side typically climb the Lhotse face to the right of the Geneva Spur, and then cut across it to reach the South Col. The peak to the right of Lhotse is Makalu (8462 m)

More views from Knobby View.

A view to the northeast toward the Nup La (centre left), a 5958 m pass into Tibet. The peak in the centre of the picture is unnamed on my map (7020 m).

Cho Oyu by moonlight.

This is an eight minute exposure of Cho Oyu, the shores of Gokyo lake and the lower slopes of Gokyo Ri, bathed in moonlight. The stars in the sky cause streaks because of the rotation of the earth; only Polaris appears stationary.

Renja La.

This picture clearly shows how the glacier and moraines dam up Gokyo lake. Everest, Lhotse and Makalu form the skyline. This picture is taken from the slopes leading up to the Renja La, a 5435 m pass to the Bhote Kosi valley and to Thami.