In good conditions, climbing Lobuche East is a very pleasant experience. The route is straight-forward and yet offers some exciting challenges. The view from the summit ridge is exceptional with Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse and Cholatse very close by. Interested? Here is a summary of the route and some other key aspects of the climb:
The Base Camp:
For the normal route, there are three main locations: in the south-west the lake base camp near Dzonglha, in the south-east close to the Everest trail on a dusty plain on the way to the village Lobuche and, also in the south-east, between the boulders below the scree slope that leads to the high camp. The camp between the boulders has the advantage that it saves time and therefore allows comfortably for a summit push without establishing any high camp. Furthermore, it is only marginally higher than the base camp near the Everest trail which is the preferred option of many larger companies. But there is less space between the boulders which makes it unsuitable for large groups. The scramble from the lake base camp is more challenging and therefore again only a good option if a high camp is established.
Altitude: 6119m (East summit: 6090m)
Normal route: south-east ridge
Character: Snow / Ice
The Ascent Route:
From the boulder base camp, walk up the scree slope keeping right of the center. When reaching the rock barrier at the upper end, look for a weakness that is usually secured with a rope for convenience. Scramble up to the ledge that you then traverse to the right gaining a large plateau on which many groups establish high camp. Turn right and continue to a steeper slab section. Scramble straight up the slabs aiming for the south-eastern corner of the ridge. This can be tricky when the rocks are icy. The south-eastern end of the ridge serves as “crampon point” as there is enough space to get the crampons on comfortably. Turn left (north-west) and follow the now snow/ice covered ridge. The fore summit is visible and the route aims almost directly at it. There are icy section of up to 45 degrees. They are sometimes secured with fixed ropes, especially if there are larger parties climbing. They can, however, be submerged in the ice – the ropes that is, not so much the climbing parties – depending on when they were fixed. There is a somewhat flatter section at around 5650m and then again a steep ascent to the Eastern summit to about 6000m. This opens up a vast panorama of the region. From the Eastern summit, descent about 15m to regain the ridge. There can be a big gap in the ice that needs to be overcome. Then follow the narrow ridge to the false summit. To reach the main summit, another major descent is necessary to gain the final bit of the ridge. The entire ridge section is very narrow and exposed. There are obvious dangers especially in high wind conditions and after heavy snowfall. Descent on the same route.
Time: In good conditions, 4h to the Eastern summit from the boulder basecamp. Another 1.5h to the summit.
A big shout out to Snowy Horizon who perfectly organized the logistics of the trip.