With more climbers traffic jam feared

SOLUKHUMBU: A surging number of mountaineering expedition teams at Mt Everest is posing a risk of ‘traffic jam’ on one of the world’s most treacherous climbing routes.

The expedition teams arrive a month before at the Everest Base Camp to acclimatise before climbing the highest peak in mid-May if the weather permits.

The weather is one of the most significant factors, so climbers jostle to climb upwards from Camp 2, 3 and 4 during favourable weather conditions inevitably leading to risk of crowding.

According to the Tourism Department, there are more climbers this season compared to last year. High Altitude Worker, Pemba Dorje Sherpa, warned of the risk of a traffic jam at Everest this climbing season due to high number of aspiring climbers.

Many climbers, who had taken permission in 2014 when an avalanche struck Everest, are also allowed to join the climb this year, partially resulting in high number of climbers. In 2015, the government introduced a new law allowing climbers a three-year window to climb Mt Everest with a single permit and fare. “This is the final year of the three-year period and the climbers who had taken permission in 2014 have arrived to not miss this chance. This is why there is a high number of climbers this season,” said Durgadatta Dhakal, information officer at Tourism Department.

This year 267 have already started the trek from Namche to EBC. Climbers arrive till mid-May and with more climbers are coming in this year the chances of the number tipping over 400 is high, according to the department.

The number of high altitude workers accompanying the climbers is usually more than the climbers themselves. As there will be more workers accompanying the climbers, it is estimated that around 1,000 individuals will reach the peak this season.

“Everyone will be in a hurry to reach the peak when the weather is clear, there is no management up there to fix turns for the climbers. There is a possibility of a jam this year. As returning climbers have less oxygen and are exhausted, it means life hangs in the balance,” shared Sonam Sherpa of Forche, five-time Everest climber.

(File – Foreign climbers ascend towards the Everest Base Camp in Khumbu region in April 2017. Courtesy: Lakpa Rita Sherpa)

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