It took three attempts, the last one on his own, but Austrian alpinist David Lama successfully made it to the top of 22,600-foot Lunag Ri on the border of Nepal and Tibet. In 2015, Lama and American mountaineer Conrad Anker turned back when they determined the margin for a safe return was thin, and in 2016 they were shut down when Anker suffered a heart attack at 20,000 feet. This time, he made it up and back to base camp safely.
Anker announced the first ascent on Instagram, writing, “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!”
After Anker was evacuated during the 2016, Lama continued by himself. He wrote in the American Alpine Journal, “I felt great fatigue when I reached my second bivouac, approximately 250m below the summit. I knew that going further would deplete too much of my reserves to descend safely. After a second night on the mountain, I had to gather all my remaining strength to undertake the descent. I rappelled as far as I could early in the morning, before the sun forced me to stop and wait, listening to the sound of rock and ice falling down the face as the rising temperature set them free. I rested as well as I could before continuing the descent at nightfall. In advanced base camp I was very happy to be back on safe ground.”
Lunag Ri was considered the highest climbable unclimbed summit in Nepal. Machhapuchhre is higher at 22,942 feet, but is considered sacred and climbing on it is banned.
Photos from 2016 Lama/Anker expedition by Martin Hanslmayer/Red Bull