A group of Americans have announced plans to try to ski the world’s 5th highest mountain, Lhoste (8516m), close to Mt Everest in the Himalayas.
Parts of Lhoste, one of the world’s 14 peaks above 8,000 metres, have been skied already, but no one has made the full top to bottom descent.
American big mountain climber Adrian Ballinger, who has already skied two 8,000m+ peaks (one of them twice), his longtime girlfriend and professional rock climber Emily Harrington and two other professional climbing athletes had originally planned to make their attempt in September or October but this has been postponed for the time being with a new date pending.
When the attempt is made, the key objective of the group’s attempt will be to ski a straight line called the “dream line” through the Lhotse Couloir which descend for 2000 vertical metres of very steep “no-fall” terrain.
A number of ski mountaineers have tried the feat before with Jamie Laidlaw getting closest, skiing the bottom part from about 8000m, but the most challenging section of the 500 metres above remains unskied.
Similar to the world’s second highest mountain, K2, which was finally successfully skied last month by Polish ski mountaineer Andrzej Bargiel after several previous unsuccessful attempts, it is not only incredibly challenging to climb and then ski down Lhoste, but it is also rare for snow and weather conditions to both be favourable for an attempt.
Ballinger has already made complete ski descents of Manaslu (the 8th tallest mountain in the world) and Cho Oyu (the 6th tallest mountain in the world) twice and believes this is the most successful ski descents of 8000m peaks of any American. He has also twice attempted to ski Makalu (4th tallest mountain in the world, Lhotse and Everest butt was unable to make complete descents due to the conditions. Harrington has also skied Cho Oyu and also attempted to ski Makalu (skied from approx 7900m).
Speaking about his planned second attempt on Lhoste, Ballinger commented, “The physical challenge will be huge of course. But the biggest challenge will come from the hazard of skiing a line this steep and exposed at altitude. Gauging avalanche conditions can also be very difficult on peaks this big.”