Austrian alpinist David Lama (28) has completed the first ascent of Lunag Ri's main summit (6907m) on the border between Nepal and Tibet, solo and after two unsuccessful attempts in the last three years. In 2015, Lama and Conrad Anker reached 300m short of the summit after a three day ascent. The next year, following Anker's heart attack at 5800m, Lama continued alone and was forced to retreat 250m below the summit.
On Instagram, Lama described his emotions on summitting alone:
'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.'
Anker made the decision not to return to the mountain this year due to the emotional impact it would have on his family. He continues to climb, but has vowed not to undertake any more high altitude expedition.
In 2010, Lunag Ri's southeast summit (6812m) was climbed by a French team comprised of Max Belleville, Mathieu Detrie, Mathieu Maynadier and Seb Ratel.
An all-round mountain athlete, Lama has sport climbed 9a and became the first competitor to win both a lead and bouldering World Cup in his first season in 2007. In 2011 he retired from competition climbing to focus on mountaineering. In 2012, Lama made the first free ascent of the Compressor Route (South-East Ridge) of Cerro Torre in Patagonia with Peter Ortner in 24 hours. Alongside the Lunag Ri project, Lama has attempted the unclimbed Annapurna III. After three days on the climb in 2016, Lama, Hansjörg Auer and Alex Blümel retreated from about two thirds of the way up due to poor weather conditions. A second attempt last year was aborted following an acclimatisation ascent of Ama Dablam, where the team decided they were not ready to take on the challenge.
From the summit of Lunag Ri.⠀ ⠀ And suddenly it's just a few more steps. In front of me lies the summit spur of Lunag Ri. I can still remember well how @Conrad_Anker and I sat by our tent at advanced basecamp in 2015. With binoculars in hand, we wondered if this granite tower visible from below was actually the summit. It was just one of the many questions that came up when we first set out to attempt the first ascent. That was four years ago now. A lot has happened since then, and that's exactly what makes these final steps so special.⠀ ⠀ 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.⠀ ⠀ 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.⠀ ⠀ Then the short wave of emotions is over, and the knowledge that I should descend the mountain as far as possible today takes hold. I've achieved my goal and the descent is upon me – as I'll have only fully succeeded when I'm back down again.⠀ ⠀ Click my bio link to watch the entire series of videos from Basecamp to Summit.⠀ ⠀ #LunagRi #firstascent #himalayas⠀ ⠀ @Redbull @thenorthface @gloryfy @lasportivagram @kaestleski @Leki.Ski.Outdoor⠀
Watch a video of Lama and Anker's journey below: