The first climbing teams headed for Mt. Everest this spring are now en route through the Khumbu Valley. It will take them the better part of a week to trek to Everest Base Camp, but when they arrive they’ll find that their tent city is set-up and waiting for them. They’ll also find that the route up to Camp 2 has now been established, as the famed Everest Ice Doctors have completed their work over the past few days.
The 2019 Icefall Doctors team is led by Ang Kami Sherpa, and consist of Ang Sarki Sherpa, Mingma Temba Sherpa, Dawa Jangbu Sherpa, Dawa Nuru Sherpa, Pasang Tshering Sherpa, Nima Ongchu Sherpa and Ngawang Paljor Sherpa. Over the past few weeks they have been busy installing ropes and ladders through the Khumbu Icefall itself, opening a path up to Camp 1. Earlier in the week, they also finished the route up to Camp 2 as well, clearing the way for the incoming climbers to begin their acclimatization process soon.
According to The Himalayan Times, the docs installed more than 20 ladders as part of the route through the icefall. This section of the climb sits just above Base Camp and is made up of seracs and ice pillars which the teams must traverse on their way up to C1. In order to cross the open crevasses that permeate the area, they have to use the ladders, which are installed both horizontally and vertically. Most climbers describe this as one of the scariest parts of the entire climb, and many of the injuries and fatalities that have occurred on the South Side of Everest have taken place in this zone.
This year’s route through the icefall follows a traditional path that has been used for a number of years. Reportedly, it is more stable and safe than in past seasons, although only time will tell if that is actually true. As climate change and warming temperatures have hit the mountain, the Khumbu Icefall has gotten more unstable, sometimes leading to collapses of the ice itself. Typically, the docs have to make repairs and slight adjustments to the route throughout the season, which is why they’ll stay in Base Camp until the last teams have left the mountain.
Right now, it looks like the first climbing teams will start to gather in BC next week. After that, they’ll venture into the icefall for the first time, heading up to C1 and eventually C2. Then, the season will be truly underway, but for now it is the calm before the storm.
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