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with Stefan Nestler

David Lama after his solo first ascent of Lunag Ri: “Most intense time”

The last meters to the summit of Lunag Ri (picture taken by a drone)

“I traverse the last few metres over wind packed snow that sticks to the granite on the Nepalese side of the mountain. Even though my head is full with the impressions that I absorb every moment up here, my thoughts are somehow empty. The knowledge that I must not make any mistake is constantly present and dominates all other feelings. It results in an intense, almost exhausting concentration – a feeling I know only from other solo ascents in the mountains,” Austrian top climber David Lama writes on his website about the moment when the 28-year-old was the first to set his foot on the summit of the 6,907-metre-high Lunag Ri about a month ago (see video below). The technically difficult mountain is located in the Rolwaling Himal on the border between Nepal and Tibet, more than 35 kilometers as the crow flies northwest of Mount Everest. “Having arrived at the very front of the summit spur, I stand still. It feels strange that suddenly I have no more further to go. I sink down to my knees, tired and happy, even though I wouldn’t be able to express it that way right now. Briefly I think about Conrad. He is the only one I would have liked to share this moment with.”

Successful in the third attempt

David Lama alone en route

In their first joint attempt in fall 2015, Lama and US climber Conrad Anker, who’s up to every Himalayan trick, had to turn back 300 meters below the summit because of a tactical mistake. A year later, Conrad suffered a heart attack on the mountain and had to leave early. David then tried a solo ascent reaching a point about 250 meters below the summit. After the 56-year-old Anker, meanwhile having recovered from his myocardial infarction, had cancelled for the third attempt this fall out of consideration for his family, David meticulously planned another solo attempt and was – as reported – successful on 25 October. Since then, the mountaineering scene had been eagerly awaiting further information from Lama.

“Quite close to my limit”

On the ridge

According to David, he fought his way up the mountain for three days in icy temperatures of up to minus 30 degrees Celsius and stormy winds of up to 80 kilometers per hour via the Northwest Ridge. In challenging combined terrain, Lama had to overcome steep snowfields and fragile ice as well as rock passages. David says, he belayed himself only in particularly exposed passages and climbed most of the time without rope. The Austrian spent two nights in the bivouac tent, after the summit success he descended in one go and reached the base camp in the dark. “On the last day I came quite close to my limit,” David says in retrospect. “The three days at Lunag Ri were sometimes the most intense time I have ever experienced on a mountain. Being alone has reinforced this feeling, as well as everything I have experienced since my first attempt with Conrad Anker in 2015.”


27. November 2018 | 13:06