Swiss alpinist Ueli Steck returns to Everest
after a much-publicized altercation in 2013, when Steck, Jonathan Griffith, and
Simone Moro got into a brawl with a group of Sherpas at 23,000 feet. This
season, Steck is hoping to complete what he’s calling the Everest-Lhoste
linkup, an ambitious new route that would summit both Everest and its
neighboring peak Lhotse, the world’s fourth tallest peak, in one expedition.
Steck will be accompanied by Nepali mountaineer Tenji Sherpa, and the two will
be looking to go fast and light, including forgoing the use of supplemental
oxygen and even a tent. They plan to summit Everest via the West Ridge/Hornbein
Couloir — a pathway used by Americans Tom Hornbein and Willi Unsoeld in 1963
that’s never been repeated. From there, they’ll descend to the South Col that
sits between the two peaks and rest for a couple hours before starting up the
North Ridge of Lhotse, joining up with the normal route up Lhoste just below
the summit. After reaching the top, they’ll descend all the way back to Base
Camp following the normal route down.
It’s a daring endeavor, which is exactly
how Steck likes it. He’s put in the training time — most notably spending 13
days in Nepal in February, when he hiked/ran more than 50,000 feet of vertical
at lung-busting elevations between 14,000 and 20,000 feet. If Steck gets good
weather for the Everest-Lhoste linkup attempt, he may very well pull it off.