One of the expeditions that we’ll be keeping a close eye on this spring is Ueli Steck’s attempt to summit both Everest and Lhotse in a single push. As most of you probably already know, the two mountains stand next to one another, and are joined by a single long and difficult ridge that sits above 8000 meters (26,246 ft). That means that any climber attempting the double summit will be above the so called “death zone” for an extended period of time, although Steck has shown his ability to move quickly and tolerate the challenges of thin are at altitude in the past.
In a nutshell, here is Ueli’s plan. The Swiss climber has already done some acclimatization in Nepal this winter, and has been preparing int he Alps too. But, he’ll still have to allow his body to adjust to the altitude before he begin the climb. To that end, he’ll depart for Kathmandu this Saturday, April 8. After handling some logistics in the city and finishing his gear prep, he’ll then head out to the Khumbu Valley to being the trek to Base Camp.
Once he is fully acclimatized and ready to begin the traverse, Ueli will first depart BC for Camp 1 just like everyone else. He’ll make his way up the Hornbein Couloir on his way to the summit of Everest, before descending back down to the South Col at 8000 meters. From there he’ll traverse the ridge between Everest and Lhotse and climb another couloir along Denis Urubko’s route before approaching the 8511 meter (27,923 ft) summit of Lhotse. From there, he’ll descend along the standard route to Camp 2 for rest, before crossing the Khumbu Icefall and returning to Base Camp.
Of course, we’re still a number of weeks away from Steck actually launching this ambitious double-summit bid, but at the moment this is his plan. He’ll be joined on the climb by Tenji Sherpa, who he has climbed with in the past. The duo have knocked off the Cholatse North Face (6440 m/21,128 ft) together, and have completed the Eiger/Mönch/Jungfrau traverse in the Alps as a team as well. Tenji and Ueli trained together in Nepal this past February when they worked out the logistics of the expedition.
Expect to hear a lot more about this climb in the days ahead. Ueli is just now preparing to depart for Nepal, but we’ll likely receive regular updates as he makes his way to BC, prepares for the climb, and sets off on this difficult attempt.
Meanwhile, ExWeb is reporting that the Chinese have shut down another attempt on Lhotse’s South Face this season. Korean climber Sung-Taek Hong had planned on attempting Everest’s neighbor along that route this spring, but was informed by his Chinese trekking company that the expedition had been cancelled and payment was no longer being accepted. No reason has been given, but it is believed to have political roots. ExWeb speculates that the expedition was shut down due to the U.S. military installing a missile defense system in South Korea recently.
Once again, politics get in the way of completely unrelated events. More updates to come soon.
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