Everest expeditions want choppers to ferry gear to Camp 1

KATHMANDU, APR 19: Expedition members today asked the government to allow helicopters to carry climbing gear to Camp 1 on the South Col route to reduce risk by decreasing Sherpa trips through the Khumbu Icefall.

Suspending all climbing activities above Everest Base Camp for a day today to mourn the death of mountaineering support staff and guides, all 36 expeditions jointly signed a request letter to the government seeking immediate permission to airlift 1,300 kg climbing equipment to Camp 1, claiming that this would minimise risk in the killer icefall.

According to climbers, the equipment include climbing rope, ice screw, snow bar and ice hammer, among others, that are necessary to fix the route up to the top of the mountain from Camp 2.

Citing freak weather and more technical icefall route this season, climbing Sherpas want to minimise risk in lugging climbing equipment up the treacherous icefall, Chairman of Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee Ang Dorjee Sherpa said.

“Representatives of 36 expeditions today signed a demand charter to be handed over to the Secretary of Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation tomorrow, ” he added. Helicopter ferries will minimise risk when unusual weather obstructs Sherpas from hauling equipment to the upper camps, Lakpa Sherpa, base camp manager for Himalayan Rescue Association said.

“It will reduce more than 80 trips for Sherpas if chopper ferries are permitted,” he added. Mentioning that only rescue flights are permitted above base camp, Director General at the Department of Tourism Tulsi Gautam said, “I will discuss this with the secretary.”

A joint meeting of expedition members that all operators, workers and climbers would exercise major safety precautions in the icefall route.

There will be only one climber on any ladder at any given time; individual high altitude workers will not carry load exceeding 15 kg while on ladders and they will strictly adhere to safety measures, including clipping harness to safety ropes.

“All sirdars who carry loads to the high camps through dangerous terrain must have life-saving equipment,” the SPCC chair said. SPCC members will strictly monitor garbage. Each climber must bring at least 8 kg back from the top of the mountain, according to Sherpa.

“Sherpas will start carrying equipment to Camp 2 as weathermen predict fair weather from Monday onwards.”

Climbing stats

• 23 climbers evacuated,355 mountaineers treated for altitude sickness

• DoT issued permit to 347 climbers of 39 teams for Everest

• 12 applications from four teams under review

• 11 teams with 108 climbers set to scale Mt Lhotse

• 34 climbers of four teams got permit for Mt Nuptse

• Guided Everest expeditions can cost between $30,000 and $100,000

• A Sherpa earns about $5,000 per season.