Chad Kellogg and David Gottlieb's attempt to summit Lunag Ri, the highest unclimbed peak in Nepal at 6895 meters (22,621 ft). At the time, the two men were waiting out the weather before beginning their ascent, but now the entire expedition is at a cross roads as Gottlieb has pulled out due to illness.
Yesterday, ExWeb posted an update on the status of the climb, reporting that Gottlieb had succumbed to a nasty and persistent cough, something that isn't exactly uncommon in the Himalaya. Chad says that in the 15 years that he has known David this was the first time he'd ever seen him ill, which gives you an indication of how poorly he must be feeling. In his latest update from the mountain, Kellogg shares a lot more details on what he suspects is a horrible upper respiratory infection, which he himself suffered on Everest in 2010 and earlier this year. Needless to say, his partner was too sick to continue with the climb.
At this point, the two men had shuttled all of their gear up to ABC and were read to begin their ascent. Not eager to give up on that idea, Kellogg surveyed the route and considered his options for making a solo attempt on Lunag Ri, but after spending two days alone at 5425 meters (17,800 ft) he realized that the climb was just two difficult to do on his own. So, after descending, he is now considering his options. While his partner has left for home, Chad isn't ready to give up on climbing in the Himalaya this fall. He is considering some other nearby peaks and will put his efforts into a climb elsewhere in the area.
The decision to try another climb is a prudent one of course, but it was also a very personal one for Chad to make. He shares much of his thoughts on the subject in his dispatch and I would encourage everyone to read it to gain insight and perspective about what goes through the mind of a climber while weighing his options. It is a very interesting read with some thoughtful contemplation and sharing of past experiences on Chad's part.
For now, Lunag Ri will remain the tallest unclimbed peak in Nepal. But something tells me we haven't heard the last of Kellogg and Gottlieb on this mountain.