It has been nearly two weeks since we had an update on the autumn expedition to Lhotse, where South Korean alpinist Sung Taek Hong and his Spanish teammate Jorge Egocheaga Rodriguez are attempting a tough ascent along the South Face. That route has only been completed on one previous occasion, so naturally there is a lot of interest in the teams’s progress. Today we get an update, as well as word that several Sherpas have taken ill as well.
According to The Himalayan Times Hong and Rodriguez have been making slow, but steady progress towards their goal. The team has now established Camp 4 at 8250 meters (27,066 ft), putting them within striking distance of the summit, which sits at 8516 meters (27,939 ft). Hong’s support team reports that he reached that point on the mountain Wednesday, October 18, presumably shuttling gear and supplies before returning to a lower altitude.
The climb has not been an easy one. In addition to facing a very difficult and technical ascent, there have been quite a few avalanches and rock slides in the area in recent days. In fact, after helping establish Camp 4, two of the Sherpas on the team suffered injuries when struck by falling rocks during their descent. The incident occurred at Camp 2, and the two men were assisted back to Base Camp, where they are expected to be airlifted back to Kathmandu as soon as possible.
Earlier in the week, high winds, snow, and ice also destroyed a tent at Camp 1 and covered ropes higher on the slopes as well. Still, the entire team is pushing forward with plans to launch a summit bid sometime next week, weather permitting of course.
Meanwhile, over on Manaslu, another rescue operation is underway. Lakpa Tsheri Sherpa took ill high up on that mountain after he and another guide assisted a Chinese client down from the summit. The trio had reached the top yesterday, but upon returning to Camp 4, Lakpa reported that he wasn’t feeling well. A rescue team flew to Manaslu today to help bring him safely down and evacuate him back to Kathmandu as well.
Updates on the Lhotse expedition have been few and far between this entire season. Hopefully we’ll get word on their progress again next week before they set out for the summit. With November closing in quickly,, the autumn climbing season will draw to a close soon, but there are still a few good expeditions left to follow. We’ll keep our ears to the ground to bring you updates as we receive them.
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