Just Short on Lhotse
A Japanese expedition just missed the first winter-season ascent of the South Face of Lhotse (8,516 meters) in Nepal, according to www.mounteverest.net. On its second summit bid, the team retreated from above 8,300 meters, citing excessively dangerous avalanche conditions. Earlier this month, the Japanese had prepared three camps, the highest at 7,850 meters, and pushed the route within about 500 feet of the summit. Climbing leader Osamu Tanabe had previously led an expedition to the South Face in 2001, reaching around 7,600 meters.
The storied South Face of Lhotse has seen numerous attempts dating back to 1973. Slovenian Tomo Cesen claimed the first ascent of the face, solo, in the spring of 1990, though this ascent has been disputed. That fall, a Russian team established a direct route up the face to the top. Lhotse is one of seven 8,000-meter peaks that has seen a winter ascent. Kryzstof Wielicki of Poland climbed Lhotse solo by its standard route on the last day of 1988. An international expedition is currently on Shishapangma, trying to make the first winter ascent of that 8,000-meter peak.