Mountain Climbing

Lhotse Climb

South Face of Lhotse, as seen from Chukhung Ri

Location: Border of Province No. 1, Nepal and Tibet Autonomous Region, China

Elevation: 8,516 meters

Everybody is familiar with the tallest mountain of the world, Mt. Everest. But did you know that just south of this towering landform is the fourth highest peak in the world? It’s true, and this mountain is named Lhotse.

Because of its proximity to Mt. Everest, some people mistake Lhotse as the south peak of the Everest Massif. Interestingly, Lhotse translates to “South Peak” in Tibetan.

Lhotse, escalating to 8,516 meters, is divided into three summits. Lhotse Main is its highest point, which serves as the basis for most people when talking about the mountain’s elevation. The other two summits are Lhotse Shar and Lhotse Middle or East, 8383 m, and 8413 m tall, respectively.

Consisting the Everest Massif, Lhotse is connected to Mt. Everest through the South Col, which is a vertical sharp-edged col. The fourth tallest mountain in the world is located on the border of the Tibet Autonomous Region of China and Province No. 1 (Khumbu), Nepal.

History of Lhotse

Peaks of Nuptse Ridge, Everest, Lhotse Shar and Lhotse Peak

The first attempt to climb Lhotse was made in 1955, by the International Himalayan Expedition. However, the first ascent of the main summit took place a year later on May 18, by Ernst Reiss and Fritz Luchsinger. These two were part of a Swiss expedition.

On May 12, 1970, Lhotse’s other peak, the Lhotse Shar, was first ascended by an Austrian mountaineers Sepp Mayerl, also known as Blasl-Sepp, and Rolf Walter.

For quite a long time, Lhotse Middle stood to be one of the world’s highest unclimbed points. However, on May 23, 2001, Eugeny Vinogradsky, Sergei Timofeev, Alexei Bolotov, and Petr Kuznetsov of a Russian expedition made the first ascent.

On the unique side of this history, the first person with a disability hiked to Lhotse’s summit in 2017. It happened on May 19 and was done by Stef “Wolf” Wolfsput. Although he suffered a paralyzed leg, this is an extraordinary and inspiring feat. On September 30, 2018, the first ski descent from Lhotse’s peak was completed by Hilaree Nelson and Jim Morrison.

The Faces and the Routes

View of Lhotse, from Gorakshep

The most popular route is the West Face Couloir and has had 600 summits. It would take a week to get to basecamp and then six weeks to climb the mountain.

The Lhotse Face is the western flank of the mountain. Climbers who are on their way to the South Col to Everest are required to hike on this wall of glacial ice. Standing at 1,125 m, climbers and porters would have to fix ropes up the wall, have a good rhythm of foot placement, and utilize jumars to pull themselves up. There are two rocky sections, namely Yellow Band and Geneva Spur, which interrupt the icy ascent.

The South Face is one of the more spectacular walls of the Himalayas. This is another option. However, there are many reports that most seem to fail in climbing this way.

The Yugoslavian Route is another path mountaineers can attempt to make, although it isn’t the most recommended. In 1990, Tomo Cesen said that he had reached the summit via the mentioned route, but the controversy was made because hikers wouldn’t believe that one person did this infrequently climbed route. Later on, he clarified that he didn’t reach the top but merely the summit ridge.

Duration and When to Climb Lhotse

On average, Lhotse can take seven weeks to climb. There are two main seasons for the Himalayan Peaks. Hikers can choose between the Pre-Monsoon season, which lasts from April to May, and the Post-Monsoon, which takes place from late September to October. Most decide to climb in the Spring because it gets warmer.

How to Reach Lhotse

A majority of climbers would reach the area by the Nepalese Side by flying to Kathmandu from New Delhi. Then travel would be taken to get to Lukla, where a “little” airstrip can be found. From there, ten days would be allotted for walking to the basecamp. This journey leads people to pass by Namche Bazar, the main Sherpa village.

Cost of the Climb

Usually, the expenses would vary from 7000 to 21,000 US Dollars. This is dependent on the guides chosen and the airplane tickets booked. To climb Lhotse, hikers would need to secure a climbing permit from the Nepal Ministry of Tourism. In Spring, it can cost 1,800 US Dollars. Other than the aforementioned, there are also trash fees that require climbers to spend 3000 US Dollars.

Reasons to Climb Lhotse

Lhotse can be cheaper than Mt. Everest and is considered the best preparation for climbing Mt. Everest. To climb Lhotse is a feat because it is the 4th tallest mountain in the world. It gives hikers a spectacular view and a breathtaking sense of achievement.

In the words of the first Dutchman to summit Lhotse, Herman Kristen remarks, “You use a lot of energy to reach the summit, but the real enjoyment comes when you think about it later. It was a fantastic feeling to look all around at a panoramic view of the Himalaya. Summiting Lhotse is an excellent feeling that no one can ever take away from me. It will be with me all of my life.”

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