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Asia, Nepal, Lhotse

Lhotse. After guiding on Everest, Rob Hall and I made a three-day ascent of Lhotse via the normal west-face route. We rested for two days at Base Camp and then on May 14 climbed to Camp II at 21,000 feet in the Western Cwm. On May 15, we ascended to a high bivouac at 26,000 feet on the Lhotse Face, below the prominent couloir that leads directly to Lhotse’s summit. We left our camp at 3:30 A.M. on the 16th, Rob climbing with bottled oxygen and I without. We chose not to belay in the 45° to 50° couloir and so climbed unroped. The snow had a perfect styrofoam consistency and we gained altitude rapidly. On the smooth 50-foot step halfway up the gully we climbed carefully, not relying on the old frayed fixed rope. We front-pointed up the steep summit snow cone, which stood atop a short terraced rock band, to reach the top at 9:30 A.M. The view of Everest was amazing and we could easily see the Western Cwm. We were back at our bivouac at 11:30 and Camp II by three P.M.

Ed Viesturs