Icefall doctors have completed the construction of a new South Col route up the world’s highest peak and they are committed to ensuring that it remains accessible throughout this climbing season.
According to Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee, which has been assigned by the government to mobilise a team of eight icefall doctors led by Ang Kami Sherpa to construct the route in ‘killer’ icefall region, it completed the construction of route starting from Base Camp (5,335m) to Camp 2 (6,400m) yesterday.
Yangji Doma Sherpa, an officer at SPCC, said the climbers who had been acclimatising in the Khumbu region before attempting to scale Mt Everest, Mt Lhotse and Mt Nuptse would use the newly constructed route in the next couple of weeks.
According to icefall doctors, the new route up to Camp 1 (6,000m) is completely new and the climbers have to pass close to Mt Nuptse.
Icefall doctors, who fixed ropes and aluminum ladders in the icefall region, said at least four vertical ladders were tied together at one point. “It avoids the hanging ice on the West Shoulder that killed 16 mountaineering support staff and guides near Camp 1 in April last year,” said SPCC’s base camp manager Tshering Sherpa.
Though the new route appears to be more vertical climb and steeper than the traditional one, the climbers will get a chance to pass through a completely new icy slope after more than two decades of the Everest climbing history.
“It may make journey up through the icefall slower and a bit difficult but the route is comparatively safer than the previous one, as it minimises the risk of serac avalanches,” Sherpa said.
SPCC has recommended that operators, workers and climbers must ensure that there is only one climber on any ladder at any given time.
It has stated that individual high altitude mountain workers should carry limited loads so as not to overload the ladders, adding that they should strictly adhere to safety measures, such as clipping harnesses to safety ropes while on ladders.
According to the Department of Tourism, the government has assigned SPCC to construct a new route for the spring season at a cost of 25,000 USD. Acclaimed mountaineer and filmmaker David Breashears and climbing expert Pete Athans have offered their technical, as well as theoretical, expertise in constructing the new route up to Camp 1, according to SPCC.
“Climbers have been acclimatising in Khumbu to prepare themselves for summit bid but some teams are scrambling to get their gears to the base camp due to shortage of porters,” climber Alan Arnette told this daily from Namche.
According to Gyanendra Shrestha, a DoT official, the department has already issued climbing permits to 36 expedition teams comprising 319 climbers for Mt Everest. “Of them, 109 climbers renewed their 2014 permits while four more new teams will also be applying for the world’s highest peak in a day or two,” he said. Ninety-three climbers, including 23 from the last year’s teams, have obtained permit for Mt Lhotse.