Lhotse: The Unforgettable Challenger of Everest

Lhotse is the fourth-highest mountain in the world, after Mount Everest, K2, and Kanchenjunga, and lies in the Khumbu region of the Nepali Himalayas.

It is often called the "Unforgettable Challenger of Everest" because of its proximity to Mount Everest and the challenging conditions climbers face when attempting to summit Lhotse.

Lhoste means ‘South Peak” in Tibetan, and sure enough Lhotse lies south of Mt. Everest.  

Lhotse Summit is part of the Everest massif and shares the same South Col, a vertical ridge that links Everest and Lhotse. For this reason Lhotse, despite its great height, Lhotse Peak is not very prominent. 

The height of Lhotse is 8,516m (27,940 ft) but it has four distinct summits - Lhotse Main at 8,516m (27,940 ft), Lhotse Middle (also called Lhotse Central I or Lhotse East) at 8,414 m (27,605 ft), Lhotse Shar at 8,383 m (27,503 ft) and Lhotse Central II at 8,372 m (27,467 ft).

Lhotse is an intermediately difficult climb when pursued from the standard Reiss Couloir route, but, an extremely difficult climb from the southern face. 

History of Mount Lhotse

The first ascent of Lhotse, the fourth-highest mountain in the world, was accomplished on May 18, 1956, by a Swiss expedition, just three years after the successful ascent of Mount Everest in 1953 by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay.

Ernst Reiss and Fritz Luchsinger were the first persons to reach Lhotse, and this achievement marked a significant milestone in the history of Himalayan mountaineering. Their successful ascent of Lhotse demonstrated the technical and logistical challenges of climbing high-altitude peaks in the Himalayas.


Climate and terrain on  Mount Lhotse

Mt Lhotse is covered in snow and ice throughout the year, but the accumulation varies with the seasons. Climbers encounter snow and ice on the ascent, including notable features like the Lhotse Face and the Lhotse Couloir.

Lhotse, being part of the Himalayan mountain range, experiences a challenging and harsh climate characterized by extreme temperatures, high winds, and rapidly changing weather conditions. 

Here are some aspects of the climate on Lhotse:

  • High Altitude

Lhotse is the fourth-highest mountain in the world, with its summit reaching an elevation of 8,516 meters (27,940 feet) above sea level. At such high altitudes, the air pressure and oxygen levels are significantly lower, creating an environment that poses physiological challenges to climbers.

  • Temperature Variations

The temperature on Lhotse varies greatly, with daytime temperatures often rising above freezing during the climbing season, especially at lower elevations. However, temperatures can plummet well below freezing, especially at higher altitudes and during the night, even in summer.

  • Wind

High winds are a common feature on Lhotse, especially on its exposed upper slopes and ridges. These winds can pose additional challenges for climbers, affecting their stability and making it harder to ascend.

  • Rapid Weather Changes

Weather conditions on Lhotse can change rapidly, with clear skies turning into storms swiftly. Climbers need to be prepared for sudden shifts in weather, which can increase the risk of frostbite, hypothermia, and other cold-related injuries.

At higher altitudes, the air pressure and oxygen levels decrease significantly. Climbers often use supplemental oxygen to mitigate the effects of altitude sickness and to support their physical exertion during the ascent.

Climbing Lhotse requires careful consideration of these climatic factors, and climbers must be equipped with the appropriate gear, clothing, and knowledge to navigate the challenging conditions of this high-altitude environment.

How to climb Lhotse?

Climbing the Lhotse mountain requires careful planning, physical fitness, technical climbing skills, and high-altitude mountaineering experience.

For proper physical fitness, you must participate in cardiovascular fitness, strength training, endurance, and acclimatization. Running, Cycling, and hiking are good ways to strengthen cardiovascular exercises. 

Further, climbers attempting Lhotse must have prior experience in high-altitude mountaineering, preferably having summited other significant peaks.

Technical climbing skills are crucial, as Lhotse involves negotiating challenging terrain, including ice and rock faces, crevasses, and steep ascents. You need climbing permits to ascend Lhotse from the Nepali government. 

Proper acclimatization is vital to adjust the body to higher altitudes gradually. Climbers must spend several weeks acclimatizing at various elevations, including Namche Bazaar, Base Camp, and higher camps, before pushing to the summit. 

The main climbing seasons for Lhotse are late spring (traditionally less hazardous) and autumn. The weather is relatively stable, and the temperatures are milder in these seasons. 

There are companies that organize logistics, including transportation, accommodation, and supplies. Many climbers use established trekking agencies or guide services to assist with the logistical aspects of the expedition. Lhotse expedition generally lasts for two months.

Safety and Other Considerations while Climbing Lhotse

Should you decide to climb Mt. Lhotse, here are some points worth paying attention to.

  • You must prepare for extreme weather conditions, avalanches, crevasses, and other hazards commonly associated with high-altitude climbing.
  • Follow Leave No Trace Principles to minimize the environmental impact of the expedition.
  • You must carry essential gear, including oxygen bottles, to mitigate the effects of hypoxia at higher elevations.
  • Practice ethical climbing, respecting local cultures and regulations.
  • You must have access to reliable communication systems to stay in touch with base camp and other team members during the expedition.

Climbing Lhotse is a serious undertaking that requires careful planning, dedication, and respect for the challenges of high-altitude mountaineering. Climbers must prioritize safety, teamwork, and environmental responsibility throughout the expedition.

Key notes about Mount Lhotse

Let's have a look at some brief information that lies around Mount Lhotse.

1. Cultural significance

While Lhotse is primarily renowned as a formidable mountain in the Himalayas and a challenging climbing destination, it doesn't hold as much direct cultural or religious significance. However, its cultural importance is intertwined with the broader cultural and spiritual context of the larger Himalayan region. 

2. Himalayan Culture

Lhotse lies in the heart of the Himalayas, a region with rich cultural diversity. The cultures of Nepal and Tibet, with their unique traditions, religions, and practices, are deeply connected to the landscape that includes Lhotse.

3. Sherpa Culture and Mountaineering

The Sherpa people, an indigenous ethnic group in the Himalayas, have a strong cultural connection to the mountains, including Lhotse. Sherpas are known for their skills as mountain guides and climbers. The mountains have shaped the cultural practices, language, and way of life of the Sherpas living in this region.

4. Religious Connections

While Lhotse may not have a specific religious significance, the entire Himalayan range is considered to be sacred in Hinduism and Buddhism. The peaks are regarded as the abode of deities, and the rivers originating from these mountains are considered holy. Pilgrims and devotees visit the region for spiritual journeys and seek blessings from the mountains.

5. Traditional Practices

Sherpas conduct traditional ceremonies and rituals before and after climbing expeditions in the Himalayas. These rituals involve prayers, offerings, and other religious practices seeking the protection of deities and spirits associated with the mountains.

6. Economic and Cultural Impact

The mountaineering industry, driven by climbers attempting peaks like Lhotse, plays a crucial role in the local economy. It provides employment opportunities for the local population, especially the Sherpa community, and contributes to preserving cultural practices and traditions.

7. Inspiration and Symbolism

Peaks like Lhotse serve as symbols of human achievement, determination, and the spirit of exploration. The stories of successful climbs and the challenges faced by mountaineers inspire individuals worldwide, contributing to a broader cultural narrative.



Lhotse is the fourth highest peak on earth and attracts expeditions from around the world. You can view Lhotse from several viewpoints in the Everest region, including Everest Base Camp and Kala Patthar.

The preferred way to reach the Everest region is by flying to Lukla. If you are traveling during trek seasons (March, April, May, September, October, and November), due to traffic congestion at Kathmandu Airport, you will probably fly to Lukla from Manthali instead of Kathmandu due to flight rerouting. In other months, you will fly to Lukla directly from Kathmandu. 

From Lukla, most trekkers head to Namche Bazaar, a staging point for expeditions to Lhotse, Everest, and other Himalayan peaks. The Lhotse expedition also starts from Everest Base Camp as Lhotse is a part of the Everest massif. Hence, you can join the Everest Base Camp treks for viewing Lhotse or for Lhotse expeditions. 

You can also view Lhotse from other regions of Everest. Everest View and Gokyo Ri treks also provide fantastic views of Lhotse. 

If you seek fantastic views of Lhotse and a rich trek experience, we encourage you to book Everest region treks with us. 

Paul Gurung

Paul has an extensive experience in the tourism industry. Through his blogs, he shares his deep knowledge about the stunning trek regions in Nepal, inspiring trekkers worldwide to explore these regions and enrich their lives. In addition to geography, his writings delve into the human side of the trek regions, including culture, traditions, religions, and etiquette, offering a comprehensive and enriching perspective on the Himalayan trekking and expedition experience.