More DW Blogs DW.COM

Adventure Sports

with Stefan Nestler

David Lama: Lunag Ri, third take!

David Lama

There is a proverb in German speaking countries saying: “Three times is divine”. Once again David Lama is currently tackling the still unclimbed 6895-meter-high Lunag Ri in Nepal – however, this time on his own from the very beginning. 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. In 2015 and in 2016, the 28-year-old top climber from Austria had failed on the “almost seven-thousander”, both times about 300 meters below the summit – on the first attempt via the Northeast Ridge along with the experienced American climber Conrad Anker. Lama and Anker had also been team mates for the second try, but Conrad had suffered a heart attack on the mountain and had had to leave the expedition prematurely. David had then tried to reach the highest point solo over a slightly modified route – in vain. He had run out of time and strength.

As light as possible

David with Conrad Anker (r.) in 2016

“It was no longer about reaching the summit – that would have been suicidal – it was about gathering my strength to descend safely,” David summed up his experiences at that time. He hadn’t felt comfortable with his solo attempt: “What’s missing is the shared experience on the mountain, and the shared responsibility for success.” Also this time Lama asked Conrad Anker, who has meanwhile recovered from his heart attack, to join him on Lunag Ri. But the 55-year-old declined out of consideration for his family. So David decided to try it again solo – in contrast to 2016, however, planned. He wants to take as little material as possible with him on his solo ascent to the summit. “Being lighter en route, I can climb more often without using a rope,“ David said before his departure to Nepal in an interview with the Austrian daily “The Standard”.

Better fail than cheat yourself

David climbing on the Northeast Ridge of Lunag Ri

Lama is confident that he can reach the summit of Lunag Ri in his third attempt. But if not, David’s world would not collapse either. “For me, success is not defined by getting to the top of a mountain,” he once wrote. “It means that I live up to my own standards. If we are satisfied with setting humble goals, we are cheating ourselves. It is the courage to fail that makes the difference.”


10. October 2018 | 16:17