Jost Kobusch to Return to Winter Everest

The young German climber Jost Kobusch is going back to Everest in December to pick up his COVID-stalled project. He wants to climb the world’s highest mountain in winter, solo, without oxygen or support. His route: the West Ridge and Hornbein Couloir.

In 2019-20, on his first attempt, Kobusch reached 7,366m before descending to safety. That first expedition, he says, was mainly to become familiar with the route, the conditions, and the requirements.

This time, his goal is a little loftier — at least 8,000m. Although he hopes for more, he believes that his chance of reaching the summit this time is “negligible”, according to

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Kobusch trains near Chamonix. Photo: Jost Kobusch

Hornbein Couloir: a route less traveled

In a 2019 interview with Rock and Ice, Kobusch explained that for a solo climber, the Hornbein Couloir is actually the safest option:

It would be crazy and dangerous to try the normal route. The Hornbein Couloir is probably the safest and most reasonable option.

Look: if you checked out Alex Txikon’s expeditions, it was a huge operation. I am by myself — I can’t put aluminum ladders through the Khumbu Icefall. And the Icefall has lots of objective risk; it makes absolutely no sense for a solo mountaineer to go through that. People go through that because it’s Everest, but for me that option is not an option at all.

There are not a lot of other options on Everest, so suddenly you realize that the West Ridge has really good exposure to winds, which you benefit from. It will be pretty windy on the lower parts, but therefore it will be pretty icy — so not too much deep snow and I can move pretty fast.

When I reach the critical parts, where it’s going to be technical, and you can feel the extreme winds and winter temperatures the most, then I will be protected by the Hornbein Couloir.

No winter Everest summits since 1993

For a bit of context, a winter ascent of Everest has not succeeded since 1993 — and even that was with the aid of oxygen. Kobusch just turned 29 earlier this month, and it seems he is determined to make further inroads toward that difficult goal before he rounds the corner of his 30th year.

Also worth noting is how Kobusch is gathering information for the undertaking.  Despite all the latest satellite technology available, the young alpinist sources most of his route intel from a 1965 documentary, Americans on Everest. And it’s just as well — few human beings have touched the same path since.

Kobusch recently returned to Chamonix, where he has been building his base fitness before leaving for Asia. In early fall, he flies to the Himalaya to begin a two-month stint of acclimatization and technical preparation.

You can follow Jost Kobusch through his personal site, Facebook, and Instagram posts.