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Khumbu Route Set: Everest Season Prioritizes Safety

A dedicated team of Sherpa mountaineers, known as Icefall Doctors, have risked their lives to establish this year's climbing route through the perilous Khumbu Icefall on Mount Everest.
April 21, 2024
Khumbu Route Set: Everest

As the trail opens for this year’s climbing season on Mount Everest, the Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee (SPCC) has implemented stringent safety measures aimed at addressing the mountain’s inherent dangers. These measures take on added significance following the challenges and tragedies encountered during the previous climbing season.

In 2023, the Khumbu Icefall continued to pose a serious threat to climbers. The Icefall’s treacherous terrain was especially difficult, delaying route establishment by the Icefall Doctors, a team of experienced Sherpa mountaineers. Alternate routes were explored, and the ultimately chosen route was one historically marked by tragedy – a 2014 icefall collapse had resulted in a significant loss of life.

Adding to the challenges, 2023 saw a record 478 climbing permits issued, increasing traffic on the mountain and heightening safety concerns. The season was sadly marked by a devastating serac collapse in the Khumbu Icefall, resulting in the disappearance of three Sherpas who were transporting supplies.

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“The safety of every individual on Mount Everest is our utmost priority,” stated one SPCC Official. “These regulations, informed by the challenges and tragedies of the past, are crucial to ensuring a safer climbing season.”

A team of experienced Sherpa mountaineers, known as Icefall Doctors, recently charted the route through the treacherous Khumbu Icefall. Among them were Ang Sarki Sherpa, Dawa Nuru Sherpa, Pemba Chiring Sherpa, Ngima Tenji Sherpa, Ngawang Chimmi Sherpa, Dawa Chiri Sherpa, Dawa Zangbu Sherpa, and Mingma Galzen.

Key safety regulations issued by the SPCC include:

  • Ladder Protocol: To avoid instability and overcrowding, only one climber at a time is permitted on ladders within the Khumbu Icefall.
  • Load Limits: High-altitude workers must limit the weight they carry to minimize strain on ladders and other safety structures.
  • Mandatory Safety Harnesses: Climbers are required to wear safety harnesses securely attached to safety ropes, especially when on ladders, to prevent potentially fatal falls.

The SPCC urges immediate reporting of any issues encountered along the route to Everest Base Camp (EBC) or the SPCC office.

The committee concluded with good wishes for safety and success to all climbers this season, emphasizing the ongoing need for vigilance and respect for the dangers of Everest.

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