After coming up short two times with Conrad Anker (the second due to the former The North Face team captain suffering a heart attack en route!), the Austrian climber David Lama has made the first ascent of Lunag Ri, a 6,895-meter peak straddling the border between Nepal and Tibet.
And he did solo.
While details are still sparse, Conrad Anker broadcasted word of Lama’s success via Instagram: “Congratulations @davidlama_official on your successful solo ascent and descent of LunagRi. Happy to hear of your success on this peak. Third time is a charm!”
According to The American Alpine Journal, “The west ridge [of Lunag Ri] rises from a 6,026m col between 6,492m Lunag West and Lunag Ri; the latter is the highest summit in the Lunag group. In 2010 a French team reached the 6,812m southeast top of this peak, but did not continue to the main summit.”
Lama and Anker tried the peak for the first time in November 2015. They turned back high on the peak, knowing they had pushed the margins of safety and risk as far as they were willing. In a video about that failed ascent, Lama says, “Had we reached the summit, our climb would have been perfect. In turn, we still have our fingers. They will surely be useful on our next attempt, which we have set our sights on for next year.”
They returned a year later in 2016. That expedition was derailed when, 20,000 feet up the mountain, Anker suffered a heart attack and had to evacuate immediately.
On that same expedition, after Anker had left, Lama tried Lunag Ri by himself. In an entry in the 2017 AAJ, Lama wrote “Three days later, I left camp at night. I climbed ropeless up steep snow and ice slopes on a different line from our previous attempts, farther to the right, aiming to reach a higher point on the ridge via technically easier terrain. … I reached a good bivouac spot and rested, thinking about the 700m that separated me from the summit.
But after a second bivy and another night cold and up high, Lama retreated: “After a second night on the mountain, I had to gather all my remaining strength to undertake the descent.”
This year, Lama returned alone. He had asked Anker to join him, but the 55-year-old alpinist has dialed it back a little bit in two years since his heart attack (despite still participating in major expeditions like one in Antarctica at the end of 2017).
Rock and Ice will interview Lama upon his return from Nepal—check back for the inside scoop then!