Amphu South (6,146m), west face; Amphu Middle (6,238m), north face and northwest ridge; Nuptse East (7,795m), south face, attempt; Lhotse (8,516m), south face, attempt. Before going to Nepal I read about the climbers who had dared to try the south face of Lhotse. Then I had to
find out if I was ready to try it myself. I climbed Lafaille’s routes, looked at Babanov’s style, Humar, and finally tried to understand the style of Steck. But above all I concentrated on Cesen. In 2007 I tried Jannu to overcome my doubts about his style. It was perfect. I don’t know if he was honest or not, but to climb like he did at that time was like talking about relativity in Newton’s day.
I wasn’t trying to copy another climber, just trying to understand what was in his mind.
You are never sure if you are ready for a climb, and during my first week at Chhukhung I was not able to look at the face. I was afraid I might have doubts, thinking about returning home to my wife and two sons. From a lodge in Chhukhung I first made ascents of two 6,000m peaks. On November 6 I climbed Amphu South via the Chhukhung Glacier and the glaciated west face. On the 9th I climbed Amphu Middle via the north face and upper northwest ridge. This gave an excellent route, almost 1,200m high, and with an overall grade of TD. There was ice climbing up to 80° and mixed ground to M4.
After the Amphu peaks I went to Nuptse, possibly to convince myself I could climb Lhotse. Based on my Jannu experiences, I had opted for November, because in 2007 the monsoon finished late and the colder weather covered the mixed ground with a good layer of snow, allowing me to climb faster. However, 2008 was different; dry conditions on the south-facing walls would make climbing difficult.
On the 12th I climbed a new variant up a gully and mixed ground on Nuptse’s south face, right of the spur taken by the original 1961 British route, joining the latter at 6,300m. From a bivouac at 6,500m, I continued toward Nuptse East via Babanov and Koshelenko’s 2003 line.On the final rock buttress, at 7,600m, I realized I wasn’t carrying enough rock gear to climb this section safely. I retreated.
On the 18th I set out from Chhukhong for Lhotse. Approaching from the left, I climbed the center of the south face, following the line tried by Slovenians and others and completed to the summit ridge by Japanese. I made my first bivouac at 6,500m and next day climbed increasingly mixed terrain, with runnels of snow and ice to 60°. I arrived at the entry to the big Y-shaped couloir at 7,400m, hoping to continue on snow and ice. Instead, rock blocked it. The ground ahead would be too time-consuming with my minimal equipment, so again I descended, spending another night at 6,500m.
Jordi Tozas, Spain