Nuptse, Everest and Lhotse by Kenton Cool and Dorje Gylgen Sherpa
Astounding triple in the Himalaya for Kenton Cool and Dorje Gylgen Sherpa: between 18 - 20 May they climbed Nuptse, Everest and Lhotse in rapid succession.
After a terrible start to the season, finally some great, highly significant news from Everest: taking advantage of good weather window, British mountaineer Kenton Cool and his habitual climbing partner Dorje Gylgen Sherpa enchained the three peaks surrounding the Western Cwm, namely Nuptse (7,861m), Everest (8,848m) and Lhotse (8,516m) Often referred to as the "Khumbu triple crown", this triplet is a challenge and an adventure of the highest order and while some alpinists had managed to enchain Everest and Lhotse in the past, this is the first time all three peaks have been climbed in a row without ever returning to base camp.
In truth, the historic achievement began badly for Cool and Gylgen: a first attempt had to be abandoned on the Lhotse Face on 11 May due to strong winds. On Saturday came the surprise news that the two had reached the summit of Nuptse, at 7861m the "smallest" of these three Himalayan giants. The smallest, but also the most difficult technically. As the British Mountaineering Council explained in it's report, the two were perhaps helped by the fixed ropes which had been put in place by a commercial expedition.
But back to the ascent: the two made their way to the South Col at 8000m and, seeing the large number of climbers on Everest at the moment (according to the BMC more than 200 reached the summit last weekend), after a short rest Cool and Dorje Gylgen set off early, extremely early. So early that they reached the summit of Everest at 2:00am on Sunday morning, in the dark and completely alone. Updating live on his Facebook page, Cool described the moment as follows: "Disappointment of being early and not seeing sun rise made good with privilege of sitting alone in absolute silence with my friend just as i've always think Hilary and Tenzing did. Dorje and I laughed at the stupidity of our small head-torches beaming into nothing."
Aware of the fact that this was only "Half-time" the two rapidly descended to the South Col to refuel prior to the final crown, Lhotse. "Nuptse and Everest are done. We're feeling strong. We're going for it" was Cool's comment on FB and after setting off at 16:00 yesterday, Monday 20 May, they reached the summit of Lhotse - the 4th highest mountain in the world - during the night. The descent proved more difficult than expected and they therefore stopped at Camp 2. They returned to Everest Base Camp a short while ago stating: "Back down in BC totally shattered like never before after a week in high mountains.Will update with photos tomorrow... now it's rest"
"Three summits in three days. Nuptse, Everest, Lhotse. The finishing line of base camp is in sight" reads Cool's last post. We will obviously endeavour to find out more in the near future about this undertaking. In the meantime, it is worth remembering that on 29 May 1953 Edmund Hilary and Tenzing Norgay first set foot on the highest mountain in the world, marking the end of an era and the start of a new one. And probably this recent ascent is the best manner to celebrate this 60th anniversary. For the record, this was Cool's 11th time on top of the roof of the world!
While talking about records - somewhat more "normal" though, Everest remained... in the limelight. This is what was reported by thehimalayantimes.com: ""David Liano Gonzalez, 33, set a new world record by scaling Mt Everest twice in one climbing season (Editor's note: from the North and South); British explorer Daniel Hughes, who spoke to the BBC from the top of the world?s highest mountain using his smartphone, became the first person to give a live interview from the roof of the world; Samina Baig became the first Pakistani woman to scale the world?s highest peak."