Lhotse: Tanabe's Japanese team climbs the south face - but no summit

Posted: Jan 03, 2007 04:19 pm EST

(MountEverest.net) A Japanese team from the JACs Tokai section climbed the South face of Lhotse on December 27, 2006, Yusuke Hirai told ExplorersWeb. Following a previous attempt in 2001, this was the third try on the south face of Lhotse in winter conditions for Tanabe and the JAC-Tokai team.

A few months back, the team made a preparatory climb on Shisha Pangma (no summit) and then headed straight for Lhotse late fall. Osamu Tanabe, Yamaguchi and Sherpa Penba Chorten reached the top of the face at 3:35 pm, but it was too late in the day to proceed to the summit.

In Tomo Cesens tracks maybe

Tanabe and his team climbed via the Cesen route. It is unclear though if they found any rock pitons on the way a detail of some importance in climbing history.

Slovenian Tomo Cesen (born in 1958) was a pioneer of solo climbing, and also a controversial character. Some of his claims have been discussed due to the lack of proof and the amazing speed he stated he had achieved. Among Cesens disputed climbs is the fist ascent on the south face of Lhotse, a mighty wall which had become a myth of alpinism and which had defeated some of the best climbers of the time, including Jerzy Kukuczka - who perished there in 1989.

In spring, 1990 Tomo claimed he had soloed the face in 62 hours, but the pictures he provided as proof finally resulted to be someone elses. In fall that year a Soviet team completed the south face and summited, but via a different route than Cesen's.

Story corrected on January 09, 2006: This was not the second, but the third attempt on Lhotse's south face by the Japanese team.

Osamu Tanabe (45) is one of the leading high altitude climbers in Japan. He has summited 7, 8000ers, among them a winterly climb on Everest in 1993 (Osamu summited on December 20, one day before the beginning of calendar winter).

In 1997, Tanabe managed to reach the top of K2 partially through the West face. His Tokai team followed the fellow Japanese climbers' 1981 ridge route up to 7800 meters, and then proceeded through a new variation northwards.

November 2001 Tanabe led a JAC-Tokai section team on the south face of Lhotse, hoping to reach the summit in winter, with no success. The attempt was repeated in 2003.

The south face of Lhotse rises 3,200 m (10,500 ft) in only 2.25 km (1.4 mi) of horizontal distance.

The first winter ascent on Lhotse (normal route) was achieved by Polish Krzysztof Wielicki on December 31, 1988.

The first confirmed summit on Lhotse via the south face was achieved in fall, 1990 by Soviet climbers Serguey Bershov and Vladimir Karataev.


Image of the south face of Lhotse, courtesy of the JAC-Tokai section team (click to enlarge).

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