Austrian alpinist David Lama has made the first ascent of Lunag Ri (6,895 m) in Nepal via the massive west ridge, as reported by Conrad Anker.
Anker broke the news on Instagram, saying “Congratulations David Lama on your successful solo ascent and descent of Lunag Ri. Happy to hear of your success on this peak. Third time is a charm!”
Anker and Lama had attempted the peak twice before with their 2016 attempt ending when Anker suffered a heart attack while on route.
The only news of the ascent up to now (Oct. 26) has come from Anker, so stay tuned for updates from Lama. Lama attempted to solo the route after Anker was flown to safety from base camp in a helicopter after his heart attack.
Lama spent two nights on the peak but retreated. In the 2017 American Alpine Journal, Lama said, “After a second night on the mountain, I had to gather all my remaining strength to undertake the descent.”
Many climbers often wonder how Lama self-belays on harder pitches. He explained it as, “The end of the rope gets fixed to the belay. While leading, the “belay device” is attached to the climber’s harness, and you give yourself rope. In case of a fall, the belay device would stop the fall, you would fall as far as you would if you were on belay with a partner.
“Once you set up the belay after leading, you have to rappel to the lower belay to remove it and the backpack. Then you re-climb the pitch along the now fixed rope and remove the gear placed on lead before. Then you continue up, leading again. There is no break during which your partner would do something. You are always toiling.”
Lama spent this September in his home town of Innsbruck, watching the World Championships, before departing for the Nepal.
It has been a busy year in the Himalayas with with one of the biggest climbs of the year being the first ascent of Latok I from the north by Alex Cesan, Luka Strazar and Tom Livingstone.
Lama, 28, is one of the best all-round climbers in the world. He won the European championship in bouldering in 2007 and the European championship in lead climbing in 2006 and was the overall IFSC champion in 2008. He’s best known for his first free ascent of the Compressor Route on Cerro Torre.
Gripped editor Brandon Pullan interviewed Lama on his Basecamp podcast at The Banff Centre in 2016, listen here.