There as been a lot of reports, both on this blog and elsewhere, about American climber Cleo Weidlich's attempt to summit Lhotse this spring without permission from the Nepali government. The stories have talked about how she flew to Camp 2 in a helicopter, and defied the closure of the South Side, to make an attempt on the mountain, and while there hasn't been much news of her climb, there has been a lot of speculation in the mountaineering world as to what she was up to. This weekend, we finally got a definitive update from Cleo herself, and from the sounds of things, she wasn't trying to be the "rebel climber" that some of us labeled her as.
While summit bids were taking place on Everest this weekend, including the successful climb by Jing Wang on the South Side, the news came out that Cleo managed to climb a bit above Camp 3 before turning back. She then reportedly took the chopper off the mountain, and was already on her way back to Kathmandu, when she began to learn about all of the speculation that was taking place about her expedition. Having been isolated on the mountain for weeks now, it seems that all of the chatter about her climb even caught her by surprise.
In an update to her Facebook account, Cleo posted the following:
A lot has happened since I stopped by. I came down to Lukla today and was shocked at all the speculations regarding my Mt. Lhotse climb this season. Firstly, I’d like to assure all my fellow climbers around the world who are pursuing all of the 14 X 8000m+ that I could not, in good consciousness, claim a summit when I took a heli to C2 after the tension that took place in late April and a heli out today. That would be claiming a whole mountain when, in fact, I’d only have climbed half of it.
I would like to let all my climbing mates around the world know that I respect everyone’s effort and I’ll continue to pursue the 14 X 8000m+ peaks by fair means as I have thus far. BC-summit-BC
I did a lot of filming and photo shooting of the glaciars and hanging Seracs and will present to the ministry this week to illustrate the seriousness of global warming on Mt. Everest.
Again, I apologize to all whom I might have offended by fliying to C2. I never intended to claim this summit.
CleoReading this tells me that Cleo understands why the mountaineering community was a bit up in arms over her climb, and why some would call things into question when she started her expedition at Camp 2. But, as an experienced mountaineer, who has lots of experience on 8000 meter peaks, she also respects climbing by "fair means," meaning she doesn't want a tainted summit either. It's good to hear directly from her what she is thinking and feeling, and to know that she got off the mountain safely.
This has obviously been a big story on the South Side this spring, and it was worth bringing everyone up to date on. It is good to know that she is off the mountain safely, and wants to continue pursuing her ambitions in a proper manner. Hopefully she'll get the chance to do just that in the near future.