What is Lhotse?

Mary McMahon

Lhotse or Lhozê is the fourth highest mountain in the world, located on the border between Nepal and Tibet. The mountain is closely associated with Mount Everest, and it is actually connected to Everest along the South Col, the approach to Mt. Everest which is used by people ascending from the Nepalese side. Several hundred climbers have successfully submitted Lhotse, and as of 2007, 11 have died, including a female Sherpa who had already successfully climbed Mt. Everest twice, illustrating the dangers of the Himalayan mountains.

Everest climbers often experience altitude sickness.
Everest climbers often experience altitude sickness.

There is some dispute over the status of Lhotse, which means “South Peak” in Tibetan. Some people argue that since it is closely connected to Mt. Everest, it is actually part of Everest, and it should not be considered its own mountain. Many major peaks have secondary peaks which are somewhat smaller but closely connected to them, and Lhotse is clearly intimately connected with Mount Everest. In any case, Lhotse's peak is unique, and it can be a very challenging climb, depending on how it is approached.

Symptoms of altitude sickness may include headache.
Symptoms of altitude sickness may include headache.

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The first successful summit of Lhotse was in 1956, when the Swiss climbers Ernest Reiss and Fritz Luchsinger made it to the top. Lhotse's height of 27,890 feet (8,506 meters), making it a popular target for peak baggers, mountaineers who attempt to climb all of the mountains in a particular height class. The south face of Lhotse is a incredibly steep, and few climbers have attempted it. Other faces are more forgiving, though still dangerous.

Everest climbers move along the Western face of Lhotse, which is also known as the Lhotse Face. Lhotse Face is icy and very tricky to navigate, especially as climbers are accustoming themselves to higher altitudes and physical exertion. Once climbers have reached the South Col via the Lhotse Face, they have a few days to make a summit attempt on Everest, or they must climb back down the mountain, as the affects of altitude sickness can start to become severe.

Just as is the case with Everest, a number of firms offer guided mountaineering expeditions on Lhotse. In some cases, these expeditions include a minimum of guides and basic equipment, while others are full service climbs, complete with everything needed, from food to oxygen tanks. A large support crew usually accompanies people who are attempting to summit, including Nepal's famous native guides, the Sherpa. Even with heavy assistance, these climbs are not for amateurs.

Lhotse lies on the border of Nepal and Tibet.
Lhotse lies on the border of Nepal and Tibet.

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