Hong Sung-Taek Returns to Lhotse South Face

He promised he would be back and he has kept his promise. After a gap of three years, the great South Korean climber and polar explorer Hong Sung-Taek will attempt the impressive South Face of Lhotse for the seventh time.

Hong is one of the few people ever to have climbed Everest plus completed full-length expeditions to both the North and South Poles. He has also crossed the Bering Strait on foot and Greenland by dogsled.

However, for the 23 years, his obsession has been the South Face of Lhotse. Rising 3,200m vertically and 2.25km horizontally, it is the steepest face of this size in the world, according to Makalu Adventure.

The mighty South Face of Lhotse. Photo: Uta Ibrahimi


Previous attempts

Hong has tried to climb the face in 1999, 2007, 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2019. Only the pandemic has prevented the Korean ace from trying in the last two years. Now the news of his comeback has broken, thanks to his Sherpa team, led by Pechhumbe Sherpa, and outfitter Seven Summit Treks.

The strong Nepali team heading for Lhotse South Face with Hong Sung-Taek. Photo: Pechhumbe Sherpa


On the last three occasions, Hong and his team came close to the summit (between 8,200 and 8,300m). Each time, strong winds pushed them back.

The South Face of Lhotse has attracted some of the best climbers in history and was tough on all of them. Jerzy Kukuczka fell to his death while attempting it.

An exposed passage on Lhotse South Face during Hong’s 2019 expedition. Photo: Lhotse South Face Expedition 2019


The eight members of his spring 2019 team included 14×8,000m summiter Jorge Egocheaga. The two had also paired up during Hong’s previous attempt on the Face. Hong described him as the best possible climbing partner. We don’t know whether Egocheaga will join the Korean this time, or if Hong will climb with an all-Nepali team, as the photo above suggests.

While we gather further details, have a look at the video shared by Hong after his 2019 attempt:


Thanks to @KrisAnnapurna for contributing to the story.