Standing tall above the western edge of the Khumbu Valley, the Lobuche (also spelled Lobuje in some of the mountaineering literature) massif is widely considered to be one of the best starter peaks for mountaineers heading into the Himalayas.
The massif is divided into two summits: Lobuche East and Lobuche West. Lobuche East is the main peak and is classified by the National Mountaineering Association of Nepal as a “trekking peak”. However, it does require some technical climbing abilities.
Lobuche West is slightly taller than its eastern neighbour and is classified as an “expedition peak”. Since it is a far more difficult and technical climb – in fact, it is considered one of the most technically difficult climbs in the region – with only 26 additional metres of elevation (85 feet), it is climbed far less frequently.
Quick Facts about Lobuche
- Climbing Lobuche East is widely considered to be one of the most scenic ascents in the Khumbu region. The approach provides stunning views back into the valley and from higher up on the peak, there are incredible views of Everest, Cho Oyu, Nuptse, Lhotse, Makalu and Ama Dablam, among others.
- In order to climb Lobuche, participants need a permit from the National Mountaineering Association of Nepal. Guides will normally acquire one for the participant.
- The ascent of Lobuche East is considered to be fairly short, lasting about 20 days. Many climbers opt to combine a trip to Lobuche East with an ascent of another peak (Island or Mera are most common) or an Everest Base Camp trek.
History of Lobuche
Due to its relatively small size compared with many of the neighbouring mountains, the records for climbing Lobuche are not very thorough.
The first documented ascent came as late as April 25, 1984, when Laurence Nielson and Ang Gyalzen Sherpa made it to the summit of Lobuche East. However, it is very probable the peak was ascended long before this.
The first known ascent of Lobuche West came even later and was climbed by a team of mountaineers via the South Shoulder route in 1955.
Experience Required for Climbing Lobuche
While Lobuche East is considered a “trekking peak” by the National Mountaineering Association of Nepal, the ascent requires a mix of scrambling, snow and rock climbing. It is rated as a Class II/III climb.
However, all of the necessary mountaineering skills – mainly the use of crampons and an ice axe – can be taught over the course of the climb. This means the main prerequisite is physical fitness.
Participants should be in excellent physical condition with previous experience at high altitudes.
Lobuche West is considered an “expedition peak” and the ascent requires far more technical rock and ice climbing abilities.
Main Routes up Lobuche
There are several different routes that lead up to the summit of Lobuche East, but the most commonly used one on commercially guided trips is the South East Ridge route.
After trekking through the Khumbu Valley to the base camp at the foot of the mountain, climbers will make a steep and rugged ascent up to the high camp, which involves some scrambling.
After the high camp, climbers continue ascending until reaching the glacier. After clipping into the fixed rope, the rest of the ascent requires six to eight hours of steady climbing over mixed rock, snow and ice.
On Lobuche West, there is also one main route that is used to reach the summit: the aforementioned South Shoulder route. From the west base camp, climbers make a steep ascent up to the high camp.
From the high camp, climbers will traverse a rocky slab before ascending a narrow and icy ridge, which involves technical ice climbing. Afterwards, climbers will follow the exposed ridge to the summit, using a mix of ice, rock and snow climbing.