Mar 10, 2013

NEWS! Spring 2013 - the Lhotse Face (8516m / 27,940ft)

I first marvelled at Lhotse, the 'unassuming' neighbour of Mount Everest in the autumn of 2011 from a Base Camp high up on Kyajo Ri, a quiet 6000m peak in Nepal's Gokyo Valley. From camp, under a stunning pink sky, we were presented with a breathtaking snow-capped panorama of Himalayan giants including Everest, Makalu, Nuptse, Pumori... and the Lhotse Face.

Unlike many past expeditions on mountains including Everest, Makalu and Cholatse, I never considered climbing Lhotse until this past Autumn while descending from our attempt at Makalu and reflecting on options for the Spring (I never seem leave one expedition without having planned for the next!) Lhotse appealed as a viable option for many reasons... the opportunity to return to the Khumbu on the 60th anniversary of the ascent of Mount Everest by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay certainly appealed as did the geography of the mountain itself... Lhotse is a formidable mountain with steep precipitous faces, many of which remained unclimbed. On Lhotse's West Face there is a weakness known as the Lhotse Couloir. Narrow and steep, this icy gully allows access to the ridge from where the summit can be reached. I also liked the idea of experiencing the 'Everest culture' without experiencing the crowds higher up on the mountain.

In spite of sharing the well-known Everest South Col route (including the well-documented and deadly Khumbu-Ice-fall), Lhotse has received less than 400 ascents - with Everest well over 4000 ascents.

The Route...
To climb Lhotse the route follows the well-known Everest South Col route to Camp 3 (7,300m) high on the Lhotse Face. From camp 3 Everest and Lhotse climbers continue up the face and make the long gently rising traverse up to the Yellow Band. Following an ascent of the band the Everest climbers continue their traverse to the Geneva Spur whilst climbers looking to continue on to the summit of Lhotse, veer  upwards toward a rocky outcrop nicknamed the 'turtle shell'. The rock shelves at 7,900m provide small platforms where tents can be placed and Lhotse Camp 4 can be established. Leaving Camp 4 very early the entry to the couloirs is reached. Narrow and steep the couloir is climbed for 500m until the ridge is reached. Once on the knife edge ridge, a left turn and some tricky climbing leads to the summit.

Spring Plans and logistics...
I leave for the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu in a few weeks time and have already ramped up my training routine - the altitude tent, a popular feature here in the flat, "Gloucester Glamour" has been erected and my muscles are aching regularly from the challenges set by my personal trainer. On the work front, the delicate balance between 'work' and 'life' continues but is going well and I am again thankful for the support provided by colleagues and friends. Similarly, my credit card statements look more like I am setting up an outdoor adventure shop in central London.

Climbing to bring cancer treatment closer to home - Hope for Tomorrow 
I'll be climbing Lhotse to raise money and awareness through the national cancer charity, Hope for Tomorrow. Hope for Tomorrow is dedicated to bringing cancer treatment closer to home via mobile chemotherapy units. These units serve to  which bring vital care to patients and their families, reducing travel, waiting times and the stresses and strains of busy hospitals. Hope for Tomorrow anticipate that in 2013 they will give over 6,000 treatments and save patients over 240,000miles of travel. Each mobile chemotherapy unit costs £260,000 to build and maintain for 3 years.

The People You Meet... is back!
Once again, I'll be documenting my adventures around highlighting the inspiration provided to me by those that I meet in the planning and during this next adventure...

Some of these people have dazzled me with their genius and art. Others have shared with me insights about how I can live. Others have devoted their life to helping others. Some have conquered mountains while others have built business empires. Some are great artists while others have entertained with their brilliant musical talents. One thing that they all have in common is that they are passionate, talented, and amazing people who have added colour to my life and have helped to gently shape the moments that make up the journey – both at work and at play.

Without the tremendous support of these people life would not be nearly as fascinating and mountains would be significantly higher.

This blog is my way of reflecting on my ‘mountaineering journey’. It’s not just the mountain but the mosaic people you meet along the way that make life such an incredible adventure.

So I raise a glass and propose a toast - "To Lhotse, to you, to me, and to the people we'll meet along the way..."


  1. Will be following your progress closely - I wish you all the luck in the world for a successfull summit.

  2. Hi Heather, still following your climbing adventures. Don't have facebook anymore so I'm happy that I can read here about your plans. Good luck on Lotse, you can do it!

    Groetjes Saskia uit Holland