Mount Lhotse: Alternative to Everest Expedition

  • Mon-Jul-2019

Mount Lhotse: Alternative to Everest Expedition

With eight out of fourteen tallest mountains in the world, it won’t be wrong to put Nepal as the home of Himalayas, and with this very fact, over the years, Nepal has become the most happening place for avid mountaineers and trekking lovers. 

Including the tallest peak in the world, Mount Everest at 8,848 meters, the craze for conquering these towering peaks is increasing every day. And, Mount Lhotse is equally sought-after by adventure-junkies to scale up and have the taste of ultimate victory.

Its 8,516 meters elevation above sea level makes it the fourth tallest mountain in the world. However, Lhotse is not just the single tallest peak, in addition to the main peak, the mountain comprises other smaller peaks as well. 

Scaling up to the Mount Lhotse is considered as an excellent alternative to the Everest expedition. To compare these two expedition, Lhotse expedition is much more affordable as the permit fee is very low. Well, this fourth tallest mountain in the world has a lot to offer, let us know in detail about what it takes for this incredible journey.

About Mount Lhotse

Lhotse serves as the part of Everest massif and is connected to it via South Col. As the location of Lhotse is on the border between Tibet and Khumbu region of Nepal, its name is Tibetan influenced and means South Peak in Tibetan dialect.

Its name is probably inspired by its tremendous south face which rises 3.2 kilometers in only 2.25 kilometers of horizontal distance making Lhotse the steepest face of this size in the world.

Talking about the two associating peaks of Lhotse, they are Lhotse Shar, and Lhotse Shar and both of them rises above the elevation of 8,000 meters.

Lhotse Middle and Lhotse Shar

Lhotse Middle is a subsidiary peak to Lhotse at 8,410 meters, and with its sharp and jagged structure, it is described as the most difficult peak over 8,000 meters to climb. Due to its difficulty, it was the last eight-thousand to be summited. 

It was first climbed by three groups of Russian climbers in 2001. However, several attempts were made in the past to scale Lhotse Middle. The very same group had attempted to scale the peak in 1997, but due to the bad weather condition they abandoned the expedition, and one of the climbers was killed during the descent too. 

Lhotse Shar is yet another subsidiary mountain of Lhotse at 8,383 meters and is the 11th highest mountain in the world. It is also the peak with the highest fatality rate amongst all the eight-thousanders. As per the record, for every two people who summit the mountain, one has died attempting. It was on May 13, 1970, when Lhotse Shar was first climbed.

First Attempt on Mount Lhotse

It was in 1955 when the early attempt on Lhotse was made. It was also the first expedition carried out in Everest region. They were accompanied by several expedition members from different countries, including from Nepal itself and 200 local porters and Sherpas. 

However, due to the unexpectedly strong wind and low temperature, the journey was out off.

Then it was finally on May 18, 1956, when the main summit of Lhotse was climbed.

Information for Lhotse Expedition

Permits you need

First of, for climbing any mountains you need valid permission from the authorized body and to get it, you are charged with some amount of fees. 

For climbing Lhotse, the permit fee is $1800 during Spring, $900 during Autumn and $450 during Summer or Winter.

It is an expedition, after all, so mountaineers often choose a travel agency to go for this kind of journey and your permit fee is included in the cost of the expedition.

Expedition risk and difficulty

Lhotse expedition is a very difficult and challenging journey. As per the record, by December of 2008, 371 people summitted the peak, while 20 died during their attempt. The peak wasn’t summited for three consecutive years (2014, 2015, and 2016) because of a series of incidents. Then, it was climbed again in May 2017.

Now, you probably got the general picture of how challenging is Lhotse. So, before embarking, make sure you are up for it.

Physical Fitness

It is important for a mountaineer to be competent in sports like hiking, rock climbing and snow, and ice technique. Not every mountaineer will have the same level of competence, but a good climber will find the balance in their physical and mental capabilities and approach.

For the Lhotse expedition, it is very important that a climber is in excellent physical condition with prior experience in rock climbing and trekking and technical expertize and skills.

Climbing Routes of Lhotse

Mountaineers carry out the climbing of Lhotse with an add on during an Everest expedition

Lhotse Expedition is carried out via Khumbu icefall and Northwest couloirs.

The route is a technically strenuous one in the trekking route of Khumbu region. It is not a dangerous route once past Khumbu icefall, apart from few crevasses and seracs bridged by ladders, a couple of short ice cliffs around Camp III and rock sections protected with fixed lines.

Apart from the dangers in the actual climb, high altitude sickness, and unpredictable mountain weather is always the issue. 

Khumbu Icefall is one of the prominent points in the Lhotse expedition. It is formed by Khumbu Glacier that moves at such speed that large crevasses open with little warning and the large towers of ice found at the icefall have been known to collapses suddenly.

Very huge blocks of ice sizing from cars to large houses tumble down the glacier from time to time.

Because of the magnitude of danger that lies in Khumbu Icefall, majority of climbers try crossing the icefall during the very early morning, before sunrise, when it is partially frozen during nigh and is less able to move.

Camp I: Located at an elevation of 6,065 meters, Camp I is on the top of the Khumbu Icefall. It is a desolate and exposed place which is mainly used as rest and transition purpose on the way towards Camp II. There is a glacier between Camp I and II that flattens, but there is still a large crevasse close to Camp I, which are also fixed with ladders.

Camp II: Camp II is located at 6,750 meters in a lateral moraine at the bottom of the west ridge. The camp is very safe and sheltered located from where the unobstructed view of Lhotse can be observed. All the travel companies set their main camp here for the duration of climbing with individual tents, dining tents, and kitchen.

Camp III: At 7,100 meters lies camp III on a small ledge on the Lhotse wall. You will have to cross the glacier to ride side before a 40-degree climb on the compact snowfield. There are no high risks, as the route is safe with less than 3 meters ice cliffs, which Sherpas will set up with fixed ropes.

Camp IV: Camp IV is located near South Col at 7,920 meters. Although it lies in very considerable height, it is easily accessible by the majority of climbers without supplementary oxygen. There are are two main rock sections to navigate before Camp IV; Yellow Bands, with interlayer marble, phyllite and semi-schist rocks and Geneva Spur, which is an anvil shaped rib of black rocks. Both of these sections are set-up with fixed rocked.

Above Camp IV: Now, from Camp IV, it is 500 meters of the climb to reach the ultimate peak. The route enters couloirs of about 40 degrees along with a mix of pack of snow, ice, and some rocks.

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