Lobuche East is a “trekking peak” in the Kumbhu Region of Nepal. It is classed as Grade PD+ (Peu Difficile+) on the Alpine Grading system although it is rated as one of the more technical climbs within this group of peaks.
Certainly it is more technical than it’s more commonly climbed neighbours, Island Peak, Pokalde and Mera Peak. There are two summits to Lobuche East, a “true” and a “false” with an expedition peak Lobuche West adjoining.
There are a number of similar routes to the summit and this page describes the South East Ridge route. The first recorded ascent of this peak is surprisingly as late as 1984 by Laurence Neilson and Ang Gyalzen Sherpa. The main photo shows the general line of the south east ridge route as viewed from Pheriche.
Lobuche East is in the heart of the most popular trekking region in Nepal, the Kumbhu. There are generally two options once you have arrived in Kathmandu; First, take a one day bus ride to Jiri then walk for approximately 13 days to reach the peak’s base camp.
Second you could fly to Lukla and reduce this time to 6 or seven days trekking. Assuming a Lukla flight my advice is to plan your walk in as follows:
Day 1 walk to Phakding and stay at the Namaste Lodge owned by Nima Dorje.
Day 2 walk to Namche Bazaar and stay at the Panorama Lodge owned by Serap Jangbu Sherpa.
After Day 3 as an acclimatisation day walk to Deboche and stay at the Ama Dablam Garden Lodge.
Day 5 walk to Pheriche and stay at the Himalaya Lodge.
Day 6 take a rest day and visit the ridge between Pheriche and Dingboche to get superb views of Island Peak, Cholatse, Lhotse, and to acclimatise at an extra 1000ft or so. Also, visit the high altitude medical post for a short lecture on altitude sickness and to get your blood oxygen saturation level measured. Above 85% and you’re ok, below this and ………. start worrying.
Day 7 and the macho ones amongst you will want to go all the way to Lobuche East base camp between Dughla and Dzonghla along the trail that leaves the Everest Base Camp trail en route to the Cho La pass! My preference is to go as far as Dughla only, ascending less than another 1000ft and spending the night there. It’s definitely a safer acclimatisation pattern but tempting to go further as it’s only 2 hours beyond Pheriche.
From Dughla it’s a short uphill walk to Base camp, less than 2 hours.
Firstly, no trekking permit is required for this region but you will have to pay a National park Entrance Fee of around $10 in the park itself. The peak does require a climbing permit of approximately $350 for up to 6 people and this must be arranged in Kathmandu.
When To Climb
The Himalayas has two well known climbing windows; April-May, and October-November.
: Camping is permitted along the way although with the cheap lodges every few miles offering rooms at $1 or so per night I don’t see the point. Later however you will definitely need tents for a base camp and one or two high camps. Sites of these are described in the Route Overview section.
There is no real way of finding out about the condition of the mountain prior to travelling to the region. But once you get to Namche Bazaar you will be able to judge the weather pattern and will meet people who know the area well.
The South East Ridge is the most popular, graded as PD+ on the Alpine Grading system.
From Base Camp at approximately 15,740 ft it’s a 2 hour slog following a well outlined trail up to the first option of a high camp alongside a hidden lake at approximately 16, 500ft. In my 2005 climb we went a little further up a narrow gully above the lake and onto a slabby rock plateau area at 17,200ft.
From the latter high camp the route continues up a series of slabs of increasing steepness to give access to the South East Ridge proper. These slabs are usually iced/snow covered so care is needed and you should probably be roped at this stage. About 50m from the main ridge the slabs end and you are now faced with a 45 degree snow wall to ascend onto the ridge. There may be fixed rope here if there are other parties ascending.
The start of the ridge is at approximately 18,600ft and for the more adventurous this is also a possible site for a second high camp to make the summit day a little easier. (This was the site of a large Polish group’s high camp who were making a tv show I have described elsewhere on this site.See "I'm a mountaineer get me out of here" message board discussion
to read about it. Follow the ridge turning around seracs and ascending the various “lumps and bumps” towards the first summit. There are no real difficulties although there is a feeling of some exposure along the way. Between the first/false summit and the true summit there is a considerable descent which you may need to rappel down before the final 200ft or so.