The Nuptse expedition is a beautiful yet adventurous expedition that remains one of the great unsolved mysteries of the Khumbu region in the Himalayas.
Nuptse ranks 26th on the list of highest peaks on the planet. Its name in Tibetan- means, literally, Peak of the West, since it is located to the West (or, rather, to the Southwest) of Everest, at the head of the Nepalese Khumbu Valley. Its main summit is 7,861 meters above sea level.
Nuptse is located immediately southwest of Everest, 4.5 km from its summit. It is part of the summit chain, which extends in a U-shape from Nuptse via Lhotse to Everest and its west ridge. Within this U lies the Khumbu Glacier. This variant is called “horseshoe” in alpine circles because of the horseshoe-like shape in which Everest, Lhotse, and Nuptse frame the so-called Valley of Silence.
Nuptse is connected to Lhotse (8516 m) by a 5 km long ridge, the lowest point of which is still at 7569 m. This “wall” steals the show from Everest for all visitors approaching Everest from the south. Everest’s summit pyramid peeps out just above this wall, but only as far as the town of Pangboche. From then on, Everest remains invisible. One has to climb the Kala Patthar trekking peak above Everest Base Camp to see the peak again.
Nuptse and Lhotse are separated by a ridge whose lowest point is a pass at 7,556 meters. The Nuptse is formed by a massive ridge with seven points until it falls sharply on its west face in a wall of 2,300 meters that flows into the Khumbu glacier. The vertical and rocky south face is 2,500 meters high and 5 kilometers wide at its base. To the north, its steep slopes face from the west, overcoming the famous Khumbu Icefall.
The original route, which ascends the north ridge to Nuptse I, was traced by a British expedition that, in 1961, marked a milestone in the history of Himalayas, daring to climb a peak of almost eight thousand meters, to which it was impossible to access except with a technical and continuous climb. Thus, the main summit of Nuptse would be trodden for the first time by Dennis Davis and the Tashi Sherpa.
However, the Nuptse’s Southeast Ridge had been considered an unsolved challenge by the world’s leading climbers. The impregnable eastern peak of the Nuptse Massif (7804m) repulsed more than 15 attempts to storm the strongest international teams, remained one of the highest unconquered mountains in the world until 2003, when the Russians Babanov and Koshelenko became the first to step on its summit.
The stunning views of Lhotse, Everest, and Nuptse itself, the amazing Khumbu region, the challenge and adventure, and the satisfaction of conquering the peak less attempted by any other climbers in the world are the true highlights of the Nuptse expedition.
The expedition begins with a domestic flight to Lukla, with a trek through Namche Bazaar – a cultural bowl of Tibet and Nepal, an unexploited village of Thyangboche, Lobuche, and Pangboche mark this extraordinary journey. After a deep satisfaction of vanquishing the summit, you can appreciate the ethnic beauty of Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhaktapur before departing to your home.
The best season to climb Nuptse would be the spring season from March to May and the autumn season from late September to early December. The peak months that most mountaineers chose to conquer the summit are, however, the months of April, May, October, and November. The tranquil cooling breeze, moderate temperature, explicit clarity during these months ensures the success of your expedition intent. It is not advisable to trek Nuptse during the summer season (June to August) accompanied by heavy rainfall of monsoon and winter season (late December to February). The climatic condition and weather become unpredictable during these seasons at the summit of Nuptse.
Nuptse is considered one of the most difficult mountains to climb. The very fact that this mountain is less attempted among other peaks in Nepal certainly proves that this almost eight-thousander mountain is tough to climb. The path to the summit consists of loose snow, a lot of rockfalls, and sometimes it becomes very steep. The peak has seven summits, each one presenting its own challenge.
The south face of the peak has been attempted just 14 times since 1961, and the mountain itself has seen just 60 expeditions, less than 10 percent of which have been successful. In 1975, four climbers from the UK and Nepal lost their lives during the second attempt. Most of the expeditions have changed due to bad weather; the mountain is known for strong winds, storms, and avalanches. A climb on the south face cobweb wall in 2010, led by American Cory Richards, was thwarted due to unexpectedly tricky terrain and snow conditions.
The southeast ridge of the summit was conquered only in 2003 by Russian climbers. Prior to their attempts, the peak had repelled 15 attempts. However, a strong determination and will to view Mount Everest at a mere 2 km distance supported with physical and mental fitness, the experience of trekking in the high Himalayas, and periodic acclimatization can definitely make the trip a success.
It’s astounding that Nuptse’s nearly eight-thousander summit and Mount Everest, the world’s highest mountain, lie adjacent to each other. Often Nuptse has been in the shadow of Everest. Therefore many mountaineers are in oblivion about this peak. However, it’s impossible for the climbers not to adore the view of Nuptse from Everest. The climb to Nuptse is challenging and demanding but not as the roof of the world at present. The most complex light granites filled with ice and crowned with loose snow, extensive snow-ice slopes and ridges in the middle part, icefalls, and extreme shale along the way to the summit of Nuptse make it difficult to tame, but it’s not impossible. As mentioned, the cousin of the Everest Nuptse has always lived in the shadow of Everest, so it has not gained the name as the Everest has explained the fact that few attempts have been made to climb the summit in comparison to Sagarmatha.