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Quebec Climber Louis Rousseau Talks Cho Oyu 2017

Quebec climber Louis Rousseau is on a big trip with a small team to climb a new route up the north face of Cho Oyu in the Himalayas. Rousseau is no stranger to the big mountains as he and the late Gerfried Goschl climbed a new route up Nanga Parbat.

Rousseau is the man behind the plan to attempt the new route on Cho Oyu this year. His team includes Adam Bielecki from Poland, Rick Allen from Scotland and Felix Berg from Germany. Cho Oyu’s north face is steeper than Mount Everest’s, about as steep as the north faces of K2 and Dhaulagiri.

North face of Cho Oyu.  Photo Mark Horrell / Wikicommons
North face of Cho Oyu. Photo Mark Horrell / Wikicommons

While Everest’s north face has been climbed a few times, K2’s is unclimbed, Dhaulagiri’s has only one direct ascent and Choy Oyu’s has only one ascent to date.

Rousseau has not visited the Himalayas for five years. After his 2011 attempt at Gasherbrum I, his partner Goschl returned the following year with Nisar Hussain and Cedric Hahlen and tragically the three climbers disappeared on their attempt. Rousseau took a break from the high peaks.

This past year, Rousseau talked to Marko Prezlj and Anton “Tone” Skarja about the new route idea and after mentioning it to Adam Bielecki, the plan was made. Rousseau told Andrzej Zawada in an interview, “The north face of Cho Oyu is an amazing objective because it’s four kilometers wide and more then 2,000 metres high.

“That’s why we need a kick ass team to increase our chance of success. I asked Rick Allen and Adam asked Felix Berg and both accepted. We all come with a different background and different skills, but one thing we truly have in common, we love high altitude climbing.”

Cho Oyu is the world's  sixth highest mountain
Cho Oyu is the world’s sixth highest mountain

Rousseau noted that he believes there are bigger objectives in the Himalayas with more risk and difficulty, but that Cho Oyu presents its own challenges. “This wall is steep and almost unexplored, it is really exceptional for an ,8000metre mountain,” said Rousseau. “We will know more about our chances when we see the face for the first time and of course everything will mostly depend on the weather and the climbing conditions.”

Prezelj said the wall is, “Steep and highly technical. The main obstacles might be the combination of the unknown, the northern aspect of the face, the technical sections, the steepness of the wall, the high altitude and the long plateau to cross above 8,000 metres.”

Rousseau and his team are going alpine style and if it fails, they might change it up to an expedition style. “With this project, we hope to contribute to the tradition of lightweight climbing on the world’s highest peaks. That’s why we will climb in clean, self-supported style. Expedition style is not an alternative, and we didn’t bring fixed ropes anyway.”