Located in the Kumbhu region of Nepal, the 20,075-foot Lobuche East is an easier summit than its neighbor, Everest. But that doesn’t mean it’s ordinary. Dizzying exposure and tricky rock slabs make it the most challenging of the peaks that are typically trekked to acclimatize in preparation for Everest. And according to Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner, it’s also the most beautiful. “I’ve seen a lot in terms of mountain panoramas,” she says. “But I could absolutely not get enough of the views.”
From her camp near the summit, Kaltenbrunner looked out at mountains bathed in the light of a yellow-orange sunset, looming above a thick cloud cover. “We were surrounded by Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse, Makalu, Baruntse, and Cholatse, and we had the stunning but very dangerous Pumori directly in front of us,” she says.
The trek begins in the village of Nāmche Bāzār, the main trading center for the region, and goes through a lush valley to a small village, also called Lobuche (or Lobuje), at the base of the mountain. Most people set up camp at around 18,000 feet above the village (about an hour’s trek), then make a summit bid the next morning. “It’s a place where we can truly appreciate the dimension of nature, its uniqueness and value—far away from any comfort and distraction,” says Kaltenbrunner.
In 2011, on her fourth attempt on K2, Austrian mountaineer Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner stood on the summit of the world’s most deadly peak. In doing so, she became the first woman to summit all 14 8,000-meter peaks without supplemental oxygen or porters. Read her Adventurers of the Year profile.
Gerlinde Kalterbrunner's Gear Pick: PrimaLoft Jacket & Deuter Rucksack
“I never go on expedition without my turquoise bracelet. It is a symbol for strength, energy, success, and health,” says Kaltenbrunner. “I also love my PrimaLoft jacket (Schöffel) and my Deuter rucksack.”