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A six-member team of Japanese climbers, assisted by a Korean expedition and Sherpa climbers, completed the steep South Face of Lhotse in Nepal but could not reach the summit of the 27,940-foot peak. The Japanese, led by Osamu Tanabe, had attempted the South Face twice before, reaching 25,000 feet in 2001 and 27,000 feet in 2003.
After a warm-up climb on Shishapangma in the fall, the Japanese established base camp next to the Korean expedition on November 13. Fixing ropes up the face in heavy snow and high winds, they followed the route claimed to have been soloed by Slovenian Tomo Cesen in spring of 1990 until about 26,250 feet. There, they angled right to a couloir between Cesen’s line and the route followed by a Russian team that made the first confirmed ascent of the face in the fall of 1990. Because they diverted from Cesen’s line on the upper face, they did not have the opportunity to search for evidence of his famous solo climb.
On December 27, Tanabe, Takahiro Yamaguchi, and Pemba Chorten Sherpa completed the couloir, and Yamaguchi topped out on the face at 3:35 p.m. However, there was too little daylight remaining for the exhausted team to continue the 40 vertical meters to the summit. They retreated and made it back to their high camp by 9:15 p.m. after a 15-hour day.
Date of Ascent: High point reached December 27, 2006
Source: Tokai Section of Japanese Alpine Club, through Tamotsu Nakamura.