Standing tall in the shadow of Mount Everest and towering over the border between Nepal and China, Lhotse is the fourth tallest mountain on Earth and a challenging mountaineering destination.
Connected to the Everest massif by the southern col, Lhotse is composed of one main summit and two minor summits – Lhotse Middle (8,414 metres/27,605 feet) and Lhotse Shar (8,383 metres/27,503 feet).
Due to its close proximity to Mount Everest, the peak is often mistaken for the south peak of the Everest massif. This common confusion led to a high level of disinterest when it came to climbing the peak.
This combined with the high level of difficulty associated with climbing Lhotse means that the peak is only ascended by a few hundred climbers each year.
Quick Facts about Lhotse
- In Tibetan, Lhotse means “south peak”, which partially cemented the view that the peak was a minor summit of Mount Everest instead of a separate mountain.
- Due to its remote location, many climbers opt to combine an ascent of Lhotse with a previous ascent of nearby Island Peak or an Everest Base Camp trek.
- Prior to its 2001 ascent by a team of Russian mountaineers, Lhotse Middle was the highest unclimbed named point on Earth.
History of Lhotse
Due to its close proximity to Mount Everest, no serious efforts were made to climb Lhotse until Everest had already been summited.
In 1955, the International Himalayan Expedition attempted to climb the peak but had to turn back before arriving at the top. The following year, two Swiss climbers – Ernst Reiss and Fritz Luchsinge – arrived at the summit of the peak on May 18.
The two minor summits of Lhotse were climbed far later, with two Austrian mountaineers arriving at the summit of Lhotse Shar on May 12, 1970, and a Russian expedition reaching the top of Lhotse Middle on May 23, 2001.
Experience Required for Climbing Lhotse
Climbing Lhotse is a difficult undertaking and requires fairly high levels of glacier travel, snow climbing and ice climbing.
The ascent is very physically demanding and most guides recommend spending at least three to six months before the climb improving strength and endurance as well as working on flexibility and breathing techniques.
While the peak is not very prominent (only 610 metres/2,000 feet), all the climbing takes place at extremely high altitude. As a result, it is important to spend plenty of time acclimatising before making the final summit push.
It is also best to hire a team of Sherpas to assist with navigation and climbing.
Main Routes up Lhotse
There is one main route that is used to climb Lhotse, the South Face route.
The climb begins from the same point as the South Col route up Mount Everest. Participants will make the steep and icy ascent up to the Yellow Band, just beyond camp three, before taking a right and continuing on toward the South Face.
After making the technical ice climbing ascent of the South Face, one of the most impressive walls in the Himalayas, participants climb through the narrow Reiss couloir and on to the summit.