Nepal | September 23, 2020

Icefall doctors leave for Everest as spring climbing season begins

Rajan Pokhrel
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Mt Everest

Climbers on the Mt Everest region are seen ascending the mountain, in this undated photo. Courtesy: Mingma G Sherpa/ Imagine Trek & Expedition

KATHMANDU: As the world climbers are now busy with the final packing of their expedition materials, an eight-member team of icefall doctors along with two kitchen staff left for the Mt Everest base camp from Namche Bazaar to fix a climbing route up to Camp II in the world’s highest peak.

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 the spring climbing season.

The experienced ice doctors will start opening climbing routes by fixing ladders and ropes for the main climbing season, he informed. “The team will begin rope fixing work in the treacherous icefall section after conducting a ground survey by early next week,” he added.

According to him, the team is led by Ang Kami Sherpa of Chaurikharka. The 66-year-old father of five has nearly 20 years experience fixing the climbing routes through the most dangerous icefall section on Mt Everest.

Other team members include Ang Sarki Sherpa, Ngim Dorjee Sherpa, Mingma Chhiri Sherpa, Yangda Sherpa, Mingma Temba Sherpa, Nima Wangchu Sherpa and Dawa Jangbu, according to SPCC official Nishan Shrestha. “Ngawang Thangten Sherpa and Mingma Dorjee Sherpa will work as kitchen staff,” he added.

“We are now at Dingboche,” Ang Sarki Sherpa told THT over phone. “As per the auspicious time given by the head priest at Pangboche monastery this morning, the team will perform pooja at the base camp on Saturday to begin the rope fixing work,” Sherpa, one of the senior ice-doctors, shared. Each of them hopes to earn over US$ 3,000 after working for about two months in this season. SPCC charges each foreign climber attempting to climb Mt Everest, Nuptse and Lhotse a sum of US$ 600 in spring season for the same task.

As the country is all set to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the first successful ascent of Mt Everest this year, officials at the Department of Tourism hoped that there would be over 350 expedition members including at least 50 Nepali climbers on Mt Everest this season.

“Preliminary inquiries from the trekking and expedition agencies indicate that there will be more than 30 teams in the world’s highest peak,” DoT’s spokesperson Laxman Sharma said. According to him, the DoT will start issuing climbing permits as soon as possible.

Expedition Operators Association of Nepal informed that different agencies have already started dropping loads in the Khumbu region. “Base camp and support staff have also left for the region.”

The DoT issues Mt Everest permit to foreign climbers charging US$ 11,000 each as royalty. Last year, the department had issued 375 climbing permits representing 42 teams for Mt Everest in the spring season while 449 climbers including 190 foreigners scaled the world’s highest peak. In 2017, the world’s highest mountain had also recorded sixth deaths in the season.

The world’s highest peak recorded at least 5,328 summits till date after Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa first reached the summit of Mt Everest on May 29, 1953.

The DoT record shows that 109 expeditions comprising 840 members obtained climbing permits for different mountains in the last spring season. Among the expedition members, 113 climbers had obtained permits for Mt Lhotse, the fourth highest mountain in the world.

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