Lhotse: an introduction

Situated on the border of China, Tibet and Nepal, Lhotse is the fourth highest mountain in the world. Standing magnificently at 8,516 metres (27,940 ft), tall, Lhotse – whose name means ‘South Peak’ in the Tibetan community – was once mistakenly identified as Mount Everest’s southern peak. Since explorers and climbers first successfully ascended Everest in 1953, Lhotse has grown in popularity as an alternative challenge to Everest’s summit.

However, any climbers heading towards South Col on Everest would encounter the Lhotse Face. This is a staggering 1,125m wall of glacial blue ice, which towers above at anything from 40-degree pitches to the occasional 80-degree pitch, making it extremely treacherous for even the most experienced of climbers and porters.

The first ever attempt to ascend the Lhotse Mountain was made by the International Himalayan Expedition back in 1955, but the team were unable to tackle the southern approach of Lhotse Shar – one of two subsidiary peaks – deeming it too dangerous to climb given strong winds and icy temperatures. The first successful ascent to Lhotse’s main summit was by a Swiss crew, Fritz Luchsinger and Ernst Reiss in May 1956.

Climbing Lhotse is not for the faint-hearted: 20 people have died attempting to complete the expedition, while only an exclusive club of 371 climbers have successfully ascended Lhotse’s main summit.

The youngest person to reach summit Lhotse is 17-year-old Indian mountaineer, Arjun Vajpai.

There can be no doubt whatsoever that Lhotse remains a huge attraction and challenge for expedition enthusiasts.