All Photos Courtesy 2017 Korea Lhotse South Face Expedition
Photo of Cover: Sung Taek Hong and Jorge Egocheaga
A South Korean expedition is currently in the final phase of access to the south wall of the Lhotse, as reported by
Kyu-po Pyun from the base camp on the south face of the Lhotse, and the South Korean mountaineers Hong Sung Taek (National Geographic), Nakjong Seong, Jinkwon Woo, Seongwoo Bae, and as we said Kyu-po Pyun.
Precisely, Hong Sung Taek, is the leader of the expedition and this is his fifth attempt, and third consecutive in this way. The first was in 1999, the second in 2007 and then in 2015 and 2016, arriving very close to the summit but unable to reach it due mainly to unfavorable climatic conditions.
The expedition started on 12 September from
Namche Bazaar to the base camp located on the south side of the Lhotse, the opposite side to the traditional access of the normal route that shares via the south col of Everest.
In fact this is not an impromptu expedition. Quite the opposite. The transport of all the logistics was really complicated, made possible by the poor weather conditions that prevailed during the first days of the journey. The team included about 10 tons of supplies that had to be transported by helicopter, under those meteorological conditions up to 5200m from the base camp.
The BC´s final settlement was completed on 27 September. All the equipment was ordered and ready to be used in the expedition. Now, in front of them, the imposing south face of the Lhotse with about 3500m of complex wall.
At that time, the senior monk of Pangboche kindly visited the base camp and led the Puja ceremony for the whole team.
The ceremony began with a very cloudy climate with lots of snow the day before. However, when the monk began to read the prayer, the climate improved and the top of the Lhotse from the south face and the 3500-meter wall became clearly visible.
According to the monk, not only this change of climate but also a drink in the pagoda that began to bubble suddenly, were very good symptoms for the successful escalation of the expedition.
On October 5 the position of the C2 was reached at 7200m. Because between C1 and C2 you have to save a distance of 1300m, the access from the first to the second in the previous plans was going to demand much more time than it actually demanded.
The subject was that they found the fixed ropes established in the expedition of the previous year, making possible this a quick access of only one day. We are talking about an extremely vertical wall, as can be visualized in the photograph that graphs this note.
Most of the areas between Camp 2 and Camp 3 are vertical walls of rock and ice where there is virtually no soil. The idea to accede between C3 and C5 was to be able to repair the strings established in previous expeditions.
Field 5 on the other hand, is only 120m from the summit. It is undoubtedly an extremely difficult route.
This is a clear example of an expedition that can not be done in a single season. The previous experiences, in fact the last two of 2015 and 2016, have given the team the precise knowledge to establish the height fields in the positions where they are already located, which gives all the conditions within the necessary logistical aspect to arrive at a good end.
But not everything was easy with regard to the establishment of high fields. Several avalanches of ice and rock were responsible for bombarding the whole climbing route, including producing not only damage to the equipment and fields of height emplaced, but in the case of Prada Sada Sherpa who was hit by a rock that struck him in the shoulder and clavicle while trying to escape the fall of a much larger block. He is now hospitalized in a hospital in Kathmandu.
Captain Sung Taek Hong himself fell victim to an avalanche while he slept on Camp 3 alone, suffering some bruises. That same avalanche was in charge of sweeping the rest of the stores, leaving only standing with some damages, the own tent of Hong, that without a doubt had a God apart: "I realized that God is protecting me once again . I also realized how small I am compared to Mother Nature. Maybe I´ve been a bit arrogant. I will take care of my body and also my mind. "
The whole team will now rest for five more days, while at the moment the wind is very strong, blowing more than 100 km per hour.
The idea so far is to start with the push towards the summit on the 28th, with a summit idea for the 31st or 1st of the next month.
In short, what is not manageable is the climate. In this sense it is only necessary to wait for the indicated moment but with a good location and rest the possibilities without doubt grow and grow. And indeed, the conditions are given.
Hong Sung Taek, the leader of this expedition, is an alpinist, adventurer, explorer and author of South Korea. He is currently a National Geographic explorer with the support of a National Geographic Explorer program and director of the KSAF Mountaineers Academy. He became famous for having reached the Three Poles and crossing the Bering Strait and Greenland.
He climbed Everest in 1995, skied the South Pole in 1994 and walked to the North Pole in 2005. He also crossed the Bering Strait in 2012 (official) and crossed Greenland in dog sledding in 2011. In this way, considered as the first man to reach the five poles (Everest, North and South Pole, Bering Strait and Greenland).
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