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Asia, Nepal, Lhotse South Face, More on Tomo ?esen's 1990 Ascents

Lhotse South Face, More on Tomo Cesen’s 1990 Ascent. When Scott Fischer and I returned to Kathmandu after climbing Lhotse in May 1990, we were interviewed by Liz Hawley and at that time we verified that Cesen had reached the summit of Lhotse. As I recall, we were sure that he had been there based on his description of the summit area, which Liz related to us a few days after she had interviewed him. Among other things, he described seeing an old orange oxygen bottle on a small platform just below the summit, which is a small snow cone. He also told Liz that he had decided against climbing the last eight meters up onto this snow cone because he questioned its stability, evidence that besides being exceptionally skilled, this guy has some good sense. Fischer and I did climb gingerly to the top, but we had the (false) security of being roped together. The interesting thing is what we have been hearing since, about a disputed photo which Cesen claims to have taken from the summit showing the view into the Western Cwm. The French, apparently, have claimed you cannot see the Western Cwm from the summit of Lhotse. One of the great regrets of my climbing career so far is that there was almost no visibilty on our summit day. I had been excited about the prospect of checking out the feasibility of a traverse to Lhotse Middle from the summit. As it was, I never saw Lhotse Middle that day, but I did see, faintly, the rock summit on the opposite side of the couloir which we had exited left to reach the true summit. This point is only slightly lower than the true summit and I remember thinking it might block a good view into the Cwm. The confusion about this is unfortunate because, based on his description to Liz Hawley, I have no doubt that Cesen, Fischer and I went to the same place in May of 1990, he, of course, by his remarkable solo ascent of the south face. I certainly hope it was the top of Lhotse!

Wally Berg