Icefall doctors at base camp to fix Everest route for autumn

Only three summits in 15 years

•    American climber Eric Larsen and his team in 2010

•    American climber Dave Hahn-led team in 2006

•    Slovenian extreme-skier Davo Karnicar in 2000

Kathmandu, August 17

Putting aside a task of rebuilding their own homes destroyed by the devastating April earthquake, icefall doctors are now stationed at an altitude of 5,380m in the Mt Everest region to prepare a climbing route above the base camp for the autumn season that sets to begin on the September equinox.

“With a high hope to restore adventure tourism activities in Mt Everest region in upcoming season, we plan to begin rope fixing work in the treacherous icefall section after conducting a ground survey by next week,” leading icefall doctor Ang Kami Sherpa of Chaurikharka, Solukhumbu, told this daily over phone immediately after arriving at base camp yesterday. The disaster-hit Mt Everest region is all prepared to welcome tourists, Sherpa, who lost his two homes in the earthquake, added.

Chairman Ang Dorjee Sherpa of Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee, which has been assigned to handle icefall doctors and garbage in the Everest region by the government, confirmed that SPCC deployed a team of icefall doctors at the base camp to fix a climbing route after world climbers planned to summit different peaks, including Mt Everest, in autumn.

“Leaving their quake-hit families in makeshift camps, Ang Kami, Ang Dawa, Gelje and Nim Dorjee reached the base camp, along with a kitchen staff, to fix a route up to the Camp I,” he said.

Earlier, icefall doctors had established the central route in March after an avalanche struck the long-used traditional path near Camp I in 2014, killing 16 mountaineering support staff and guides. The last spring season had, however, seen no Mt Everest ascent, as the earthquake-triggered avalanche along the Khumbu glacier the buried base camp, killing at least 18 acclimatising climbers and high altitude workers.

According to Gyanendra Shrestha, an official at the Department of Tourism, more than five teams comprising climbers from Japan, US, Austria, Germany and UK have already applied for permits to climb different peaks, including Mt Everest and Mt Manaslu (8,163m).

Tika Ram Gurung, Managing Director at Bochi-Bochi Treks, said a team of six Japanese mountaineers would embark on a trek to Mt Everest region by the end of this month while two of them - Nobukazu Kuriki and Masaru Kadotani – would attempt a rare autumn summit of the world’’s highest peak.

According to DoT, an eight-member team led by Austrian climber Andreas Neuschmid also applied for a permit to climb Mt Manaslu, while Trekking Camp Nepal informed that it would run a South Korean expedition on Mt Lhotse (8,516m) in autumn. “Along with Mt Everest, climbers attempting Mt Lhotse and Mt Nuptse also need to cross the Icefall route which is being fixed by the icefall doctors,” Shrestha said.

Expedition operators also hoped that there would be more teams on Mt Manaslu and Mt Amadablam, among other peaks, in the autumn, as most of the climbers prepared to continue Nepal expeditions following their recent unsuccessful summer attempts on Mt K2 and Broad peak. Hordes of climbers have also announced to switch to Mt Manaslu for expedition after Chinese authority announced to close usual autumn climbing on Shishapangma and Cho-Oyu peaks fearing protests on the 50th anniversary of controlling Tibet, they added.