Only weeks after being honoured at the 18th Piolets d'Or in Chamonix, Denis Urubko has climbed a partial new line on the upper c500m of Lhotse (8,516m).
The Kazakh mountaineer was in the Khumbu with Italian Simone Moro, with whom he made the first winter ascent of Makalu around 15 months ago. The pair hoped to complete the long-standing problem of the direct traverse from Lhotse to Everest.
The unknown ground here is the northwest ridge of Lhotse, rising from Everest's South Col. It is largely rocky and although the lower section can be outflanked on the Tibetan side, the upper appears steep and difficult.
Moro had scoped a route low down on the right flank, a rising traverse across a narrow snow ramp leading to the upper section of the West Face Couloir. Urubko set out from the South Col at 6.30 am on the 16th May, and arrived on top at 11.30 am. He was the first to summit this season.
On neighbouring Everest (8,850m), Kenton Cool reached the summit for his eighth time, increasing his already impressive British record. He still has some way to go to catch up with Apa Sherpa, who extended the overall record by reaching the top for his 20th time.
Cool was guiding Bonita Norris, who at 22 becomes the youngest British female to reach the top. When Norris decided two years ago that she wanted to climb Everest, she had more or less no mountaineering experience. However, with intense training she was on the summit of Manaslu (8,163m) in the autumn of 2009.
Around on the Tibetan side it was the turn of American Jordan Romero to set a record. Climbing with his father, he became the youngest person to summit the mountain, reaching the top via the North Ridge on the 22nd May, when he was 13 years (and 314 days) old. Prior to this ascent the youngest summiteer was a 15-year-old Nepali.
In spring 2009 the first bolts appeared on Everest. The west face of Lhotse leading up to the South Col was particularly dry, and the leader of a Swiss expedition had brought a drill, which he lent to leaders of two other expeditions. They placed about six bolts in the Yellow Band at 7,700m on the Lhotse face, where fixing ropes can be problematical with little snow/ice cover. More have been added this season.
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