Nepal | November 14, 2019

Icefall doctors struggle on Mt Everest as sole Japanese climber ready for summit push

Rajan Pokhrel
Nepali national flag and Buddhist prayer flags are seen in the base camp of Mount Everest. Photo: AFP

Nepali national flag and Buddhist prayer flags are seen in the base camp of Mount Everest. Photo: AFP/File

KATHMANDU: As fresh snow continues to blanket Mt Everest region, icefall doctors are struggling to keep the treacherous icefall route intact.

Their efforts aim at facilitating this season’s sole Everest aspirant Japanese mountaineer. Doing so, on the other hand, will help the Sherpa mountaineers who have specialised in fixing icefall routes earn a few thousand US dollars, which they intend to spend in rebuilding their houses flattened by the devastating April earthquake and its aftershocks.
Each of them hopes to earn about US$ 3,5000 after working for about two months in this season, said leading icefall doctor Ang Kami Sherpa.

Ang Kami Sherpa

Leading icefall doctor Ang Kami Sherpa. Photo: SPCC

“I have already hired a local contractor to rebuild my house in Chaurikharka, which was damaged in the April earthquake, at the cost of US$ 3,500,” 62-year-old father of five said, sharing his plan to utilise his hard-earned money.

Same is the situation with his colleagues Gelje, Dawa and Nim Dorjee who lost their houses in the earthquake, according to him.

He informed that four icefall doctors and a kitchen helper have camped at the base camp since August 16.

“We need to construct route up to the Camp 2 from the base camp after the Department of Tourism issued climbing permits to the Everest climbers while the number of expedition doesn’t matter,” he told THT Online over phone from the base camp.

Sherpa expressed his gratitude to the Japanese climber, Nobukazu Kuriki, for the opportunity to earn at the time of urgent need.

The DoT has provided US$ 25,000 to Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee to employ its icefall doctors to fix ropes and ladders in the climbing route in the autumn season while the SPCC charged each climber of US$ 600 in spring season for the same task.

“We have placed 20 ladders in the central section of the icefall route that was hit by multiple avalanches in the last two seasons,” Sherpa said. The central route is quite technical but largely free from risk of big avalanches, he added.

Sole climber ready for Everest summit push

Japanese climber Kuriki

Japanese climber Kuriki

Japanese mountaineer Nobukazu Kuriki, who lost his all fingers to frostbite in 2012, is all set to begin a summit push peak this week, according to an expedition organiser.

Only one expedition team of Japanese climbers led by Kuriki has now reached Camp 2 to attempt the Mt Everest ascent. “A photographer and support staff will join Kuriki up to Camp 2 tomorrow while Kuriki will move upward towards the peak,” Tika Ram Gurung, Managing Director at Bochi Bochi Treks said.

If weather did not play foul, Kuriki would reach the Camp 3 on Tuesday, Gurung added, “He will head to Camp 4 for the first summit push.” According to him, Kuriki, who climbed Lobuche peak to acclimatise, plans head to the Everest summit from Camp 4 on Wednesday.

Mt Everest base camp witnessed fresh snow till Sunday and it’s still snowing, according to Gelje Sherpa, another icefall doctor.

Mountain weather expert Krishna Bhakta Manandhar said snowfall would continue in the Everest region till Tuesday night. “Cloud has been moving towards the east from Bay of Bengal,” he informed.

Mt Everest has recorded only three successful autumn summits Everest in the last 15 years.

According to the Department of Tourism, American climber Eric Larsen and his team made it to the top of the world’s highest peak in autumn of 2010 while American climber Dave Hahn-led team and Slovenian extreme skier Davo Karnicar summitted Mt Everest in 2006 and 2000 respectively.

Birthday girl Junko Tabei treks

Junko tabei

Junko Tabei

Legendary mountaineer Junko Tabei, the first woman to climb Mt Everest, has completed a week-long trek to Mt Everest region as she came here with more than 35 Japanese trekkers to support Nepal’s tourism economy in the aftermath of devastating earthquakes.

“Tabei, who considers Nepal as her second home, came here to support the earthquake-hit country while the year 2015 marked the 40th anniversary of her successful ascent to the world’s highest mountain,” Mahesh Raj Suwal, General Manager at Saiyu Nepal Trek said.

Tabei is all set to mark her birthday appealing world climbers and visitors to come to Nepal as the country needs more tourists now than ever.

As sub-leader of Japanese Women’s Everest Expedition and leader of its climbing party, she successfully climbed Mt Everest in 1975. In 1992, she also became the first woman in the world to reach the highest mountain on each of the seven continents.

Tabei-led 12 member team of climbers trekked to Everest region to interact with local communities as well as to explore a message that Everest trekking route is all safe for hikers. “Other climbers hiked to Chisapani of Sindhuplachok and Kavre,” he said.

Manaslu climbers waiting for fair weather

A cliber in Mt Manaslu. Courtesy: Arnold Coster

A climber in Mt Manaslu. Courtesy: Arnold Coster

Climbing activities in Manaslu region have also been affected due to snow and wind. According to climbers, over 106 mountaineers along with their support staff and guides have camped at the base camp after acclimatising in the world’s eighth highest peak.

“We had a good acclimatisation round on Manaslu but the mountain showed her true face: lots of snow, thunder, hot weather, wind, everything,” noted climber Arnold Coster, “ We suspect a period of really bad weather now and hangout in base camp for a couple of days.”

“We have been resting at base camp waiting for a fair weather. We will go for another rotation and a summit bid in a few days,” Colombian climber cum photographer Claudia Camila Lopez told THT Online.

Department of Tourism under the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation has issued climbing permits for 265 mountaineers representing different 42 expeditions while it has been reviewing 10 more permit files for the autumn season.

Worldwide mountaineers would try to climb different 25 peaks including Mt Aichyn (6,055m), Mt Makalu I (8,463m) and Mt Lhotse (8,516m), Gyanendra Shresha, an official at DoT said.


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