An early attempt on Lhotse was by the 1955 International Himalayan Expedition, headed by Norman Dyhrenfurth. It also included two Austrians (cartographer Erwin Schneider and Ernst Senn) and two Swiss (Bruno Spirig and Arthur Spöhel), and was the first expedition in the Everest area to include Americans (Fred Beckey, George Bell, and Richard McGowan). The Nepalese liaison officer was Gaya Nanda Vaidya. They were accompanied by 200 local porters and several climbing Sherpas. After a brief look at the dangerous southern approaches of Lhotse Shar, they turned their attention, during September and October, to the West Cwm and the northwest face of Lhotse, on which they achieved an altitude of about 8,100 metres (26,600 ft). They were beaten back by unexpectedly strong wind and cold temperatures. Under Schneider's direction they completed the first map of the Everest area (1:50,000 photogrammetric). The expedition also made several short films covering local cultural topics, and made a number of first ascents of smaller peaks in the Khumbu region.
The main summit of Lhotse was first climbed on May 18, 1956 by the Swiss team of Ernst Reiss and Fritz Luchsinger from the Swiss Mount Everest/Lhotse Expedition. On May 12, 1979, Sepp Mayerl and Rolf Walter of Austria made the first ascent of Lhotse Shar. Lhotse Middle remained, for a long time, the highest unclimbed named point on Earth; on May 23, 2001, its first ascent was made by Eugeny Vinogradsky, Sergei Timofeev, Alexei Bolotov and Petr Kuznetsov of a Russian expedition.
On May 23, 2010 Tamara Lunger becomes the youngest female climber (aged 23 years, 11 months, and 17 days), to have reached the main summit. On May 20, 2011 at age 17 years, 11 months and 16 days, Arjun Vajpai becomes the youngest climber ever to summit the main peak. On May 2011 the Spanish climber Carlos Soria Fontán became the oldest person ever to summit Lhotse, at the age of 72 years and 105 days.
As of December 2008, 371 climbers have summitted Lhotse and 20 have died.