Lhotse, officially the 4th-highest mountain in the world, is hardly even a mountain in its own right at all; there's a strong argument for saying that it's really the 2nd peak of Mount Everest. The two mountains are connected via a feature called the South Col, an 8000-metre high ridge, which is also known as the world's highest junkyard due to the amount of mountaineering waste dumped there before or after summit attempts. Lhotse only rises 610m independently above the level of the south col, to a maximum height of 8,516 metres. Any climber trying to reach the south col has to ascend the Lhotse Face, a wall of blue glacial ice more than a kilometre high and rising at a rough average of 45 degrees, with occasional 80-degree slopes.

In mountaineering terms, it has a very low degree of topographical independence, meaning that it is not a very interesting climb in its own right, as opposed to the extremely challenging K2 and Kangchenjunga, the 2nd and 3rd highest mountains in the world. The standard route for climbing Everest leads across the Northwest face; however, Lhotse also has a south face, and this may be the main reason why it is still thought of as a separate peak rather than part of Everest. Lhotse's south face is one of the steepest and most difficult climbs of its size anywhere in the world, rising 3.2 km vertically in only 2.25 km of horizontal distance. It has claimed some notable lives, including that of Jerzy Kukuczka, a famous mountaineer and the 2nd person to have climbed all the 8000-metre peaks in the world, who fell to his death when his rope, which he bought second-hand in a Kathmandu market, broke.

Lhotse's summit was first reached in 1956 by Ernst Reiss and Fritz Luchsinger, and since then it has been successfully climbed 243 times, with 11 fatalities. Of its two minor peaks, Lhotse Shar (8,414 m) and Lhotse Middle (8,383 m), Lhotse Middle remained unclimbed until 2001, making it the highest officially named point on Earth that had never been reached. The first female ascent of Lhotse's main peak was in 1996 by Chantal Mauduit.